American Reunion [aka American Pie: Reunion] Movie Review

Call this a missed opportunity. While there's plenty of scope to have fun with these characters as they hit 30, this script is simply not up to the job. It's never very funny, has no sense of momentum and only comes to life due to the endearing characters and the likeable actors who play them.

It's the class of 1999's 13th reunion (huh?), so the entire gang returns to East Great Falls. Jim and Michelle (Bigs and Hannigan) now have a 2-year-old son, which has interrupted their sex life; Oz (Klein) is a B-list TV star with a supermodel girlfriend (Bowden); the now-married Kevin is worried about rekindling his high school romance with Vicky (Reid); Finch (Thomas) is a world traveler who clicks with Michelle's band camp pal Selena (Ramirez). And then there's party-boy prankster Stifler (Scott), who hasn't changed at all and leads them into all manner of trouble.

The filmmakers miraculously reassemble the entire cast - including appearances from Natasha Lyonne (now-stereotypical lesbian Jessica), Chris Owen (the Shermanator) and Shannon Elizabeth (exchange-hottie Nadia) - but they never do anything clever with them. Structured in three escalating nights out, the narrative is merely a series of set-pieces featuring gross-out gags and embarrassing moments. But there's no edge: it's relentlessly naïve and sentimental. And each character's plot-strand is a string of cliches.

Fortunately, watching these gifted actors in strained, unfunny situations is still mildly entertaining. Biggs is a solid lead, stumbling headlong into humiliation (as usual, he gets the film's money shot). Aside from Scott, we've barely seen the others in the intervening years, and all of them slip easily back into their roles. But the best moments belong to shameless scene-stealers Levy and Coolidge, even though the filmmakers gave them nothing to work with.

But most surprising is that, despite the continual madcap antics, the film's actually rather dull. The middle section turns strangely mushy, with superficial nods to failed potential, infidelity, grief, marital strain, frustrated dreams, lost love - issues a reunion movie should grapple with.

There's no reason why these things can't be explored with vulgar comedy and riotous, sex-obsessed antics. But that requires much smarter writing and directing.


American Reunion [aka American Pie: Reunion] Rating

" Grim "

Rating: 15, 2012


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