— Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade from The Maltese Falcon, 1941
April 4, 2012
Review: American Reunion
— Posted by Ryan
Synopsis: Continuing the American Pie franchise, Jim, Michelle, and Stifler reunite with their friends for their upcoming high school reunion. When seeing their friends again they reminisce about the past and how things have changed since high school.
The film starts out with the same familiar hijinks that other American Piefilms have started with and you can expect the same crude sexual humor that you have repeatedly seen. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) have fallen into the routine of marriage and family which has taken a toll on their sex life. When they are both caught in the act of “having a sexual moment alone” by their child, it gives reason for the need to work on their sex life. After watching this scene, I immediately remembered the first film of the series and how it opened in a very similar way. The scene is almost exactly what is seen in the trailer and in my opinion sets the tone for the rest of the film.
The other character story that is a primary focus is Stifler’s story. I saw the same Stifler from every other film, immature and living for the party. There is an office scene where it looks like Stifler has started a career but that notion is quickly put to shame. I was reminded of how Stifler was introduced in the first film when he walks through the office making crude and inappropriate remarks towards his co-workers. I thought it looked and felt exactly like the high school scene from the first American Pie with a slight reality check that Stifler is now an adult. There is very little character and plot development overall and the other cast members are almost non-existent. The rest of the cast have very little back story and not much purpose other than bringing a sense of closure to small side stories established from previous films and providing a token quote here and there. You can probably guess their roles if you’ve seen the previous films. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nichols) and Vicky (Tara Reid) reminisce about their high school romance, Oz (Chris Klein) and Heather (Mena Suvari) have their moment as well, and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is a mystery as usual fitting into the well versed traveler motif. It is assumed that the audience is familiar with the characters and story so the film quickly proceeds as a continuation to the franchise with no wasted time.
The reunion comes into play when Kevin calls Jim to organize a gathering with the old group. Jim and Michelle make the trip and decide to stay with Jim’s dad, planning to both attend the reunion and work on their sex life. An interesting side story is established at this point with Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy) that I would have liked to seen explored more. Jim’s mother is now out of the picture and there is a heart-felt moment between Jim and his father when discussing the situation. It is a small sub-plot but Jim’s attempts to help ease his father’s loneliness provides an emotional bond to the film while providing ample laughter. From this point on I think the film began to replay moments and scenes from the previous films with focus primarily on the first film. It was as if the setting was laid out with the purpose of paying homage to the roots of American Pie. It seemed as though the most memorable moments from the previous films were re-imagined to appease the nostalgic and adapt to how the characters have aged. The lake from the second film is now inhabited by a younger generation, the bar where they first made their “vow” now employs former classmates, even Stifler’s parties have a more mature taste.
The reuse of elements of the previous films actually builds towards the nostalgia that is the underlying theme of this film. In my opinion, the best parts of the film were the parts that were recycled from the previous films. For viewers who are new to the film franchise, these elements are proven successes that have worked so there will still be some guaranteed laughs. For the viewers who have followed the franchise, these elements are renewed with fresh laughs from a familiar territory. The worst of the film was the unfamiliar territory. The added subplots and dialogue between minor characters lacked the substance to hold any sort of interest, it seemed to halt the humor and force the audience to temporarily numb their funny bone.
I thought this film was the best of all the sequels. It completed the circle by showing us the characters grow from kids to adults and it was interesting to see how things had both changed and remained the same. The plot and character development were definitely lacking, even for someone who knew the previous films but there were still a lot of laughs to be had. I also felt very connected with the characters and story from my own personal sense of nostalgia. Having graduated around the same time as the first film, it was a great feeling to see closure to the film and being able to personally relate to the film. With that said, it is still a sequel to the original film and I think all of the sequels (including this one) have been films that are not essential to being seen in the theater. American Reunion is definitely a film worth seeing but with how quickly movies are making it to Blu-Ray/DVD and the low cost of rentals, I would save the money and look forward to watching it then.
6.5 out of 10
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This post was written by :
First and foremost, Ryan Brown is a fan. He has been an avid fan of both the theater and cinema since an early age and his passion for both has been continually growing ever since. When dissecting a film, he focuses on all elements of film-making including some fan/cult factors. He believes that character development is the foundation of a good film and usually starts his analysis of a film from there moving forward. His writing style may be influenced by his background of narrative and argumentative studies in the subject, but he tends to enjoy a more conversational style to better interact with the readers, unlike some other pretentious and pompous writers.
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