Directed by Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Screenplay by Jon Hurwitz
Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari
How long is American Reunion? 113 minutes.
What is American Reunion rated? R for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking.
A wonderfully lewd, gross and raunchy tribute to the original.
When American Pie hit theaters in 1999, audiences were shocked by the movie’s excessive foul language and explicit depiction of teenage sexuality. Now, 13 years later, American Pie seems almost quaint in comparison to the endless slew of raunchy comedies that have followed in its footsteps, including two terrible sequels, American Pie 2 and American Wedding. With American Reunion, though, the franchise has redeemed itself with a hilariously vulgar fourth installment, making us almost forget the second and third films ever happened.
When we meet up with the gang from East Great Falls High School, each is looking forward to their 13 year high school for a different reason. (The planning committee missed the ten year reunion by a couple of years, but no big deal.) Jim (Jason Biggs) married his high school girlfriend, Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), but the pressure of being a parent and the lack of sex it brings makes Jim yearn for his high school days of being stupid and irresponsible. Similarly, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has settled down as a house husband for his beautiful, successful wife and spends way too much time watching Gossip Girl and The Bachelor. A weekend with “his boys” is exactly what he needs.
While Oz (Chris Klein) is living the lavish, Hollywood lifestyle (complete with hot girlfriend) the other guys would kill for, his fame as a national sportscaster has left him feeling a little empty, especially after an embarrassing run on Dancing with the Stars. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), though, has traveled the world, amassed a lifetime of memories and experiences and is as cultured and refined as ever. His reasons for returning for the reunion are a little less clear than everyone else’s.
As the weekend unfolds, we learn that Jim’s mom died several years ago and that Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy) is pretty lonely. More unfortunate for Jim in his current predicament is the little girl who lived next door and who he used to babysit is now an incredibly hot 18-year-old. Kara (Ali Corbin) is definitely going to be bad news for Jim. Kevin has his own problems when he sees his high school girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid) and a lot of old feelings come bubbling up. Oz has the same problem when Heather (Mena Suvari) shows up with her handsome boyfriend, Dr. Ron (Jay Harrington).
Watching American Reunion is like watching American Pie again for the first time. It is filled with disgusting conversations and references to genitalia, much of which is too accurately described. Directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) have clearly studied the first movie to see what works and what doesn’t. American Reunion is more concerned with exploring the various uses of the f-word than getting Jim into wacky situations (a pitfall of the second and third movies).
Speaking of the f-word, most of the film’s success is a result of Seann William Scott once again playing Stifler perfectly. When we meet him again, Stifler is working as a beaten down temp in a job he hates for a boss who is almost as cruel as he was in high school. Scott actually gives a more well-rounded performance than he has before, surprisingly making Stifler the heart of the movie. Btu that doesn’t mean he isn’t as disgusting as ever. Scott’s ability to deliver a line of filthy dialogue is unmatched in Hollywood today.
The actors, for the most part, play their roles well. Most have become comfortable enough with their characters that they don’t really need to try too hard, and they don’t. Biggs and Ian Nicholas give perfectly passable performances. Kaye Thomas plays Finch exactly as he was in the first film, which may not necessarily be a good thing. Klein shows some improvement in his acting ability, which was stunted, to say the least, the first time around.
Reid and Suvari, though, are like a tornado of bad acting, sweeping up everything and everyone in their path. While in the first film her looks were able to give her a pass for being a bad actress, now Reid has aged (not well) and her lack of any talent whatsoever is perfectly clear. In one scene, she can’t even pretend to be asleep without having a slight smirk on her face. Suvari, while not a bad actress, is just lifeless. She seems to think that being quiet and reserved makes her mysterious when, in fact, it just makes her line readings that much more terrible.
If you want to have a fun time at the movies and laugh incredibly hard for two hours, go see American Reunion. It’s not going to win any awards for its script or acting, but it is not intended to be highbrow humor. It exists, just like the first film, to make the audience laugh. And in that endeavor, it succeeds.
Matthew Newlin lives in St. Louis, Missouri and has been a film critic for over six years. He has written for numerous online media outlets, including “Playback:STL” and “The Weissman Report.” He holds a Master’s of Education in Higher Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and is an Assistant Director of Financial Aid. A lifelong student of cinema, his passion for film was inherited from his father who never said “No, you can’t watch that.”