If nothing else, "American Reunion" comes firing right out the gates and never looks back. If you can leave your rationale and logic at the door, every drop of it, there are a few funny peaks to go with the expected valleys when trying to cram in too many characters from the good old days. But even though many of the jokes fall flat and Stifler is eye-rolling as ever, Eugene Levy has some good fun as Jim's embarrassing father and our boys get in enough funny mischief to keep "American Reunion" from completely jumping the shark.
After redefining the coming-of-age sex comedy at the end of last century with "American Pie," nothing less than an over-the-top raunchfest would do, and that's exactly what we get here. Our main four characters Jim (Jason Biggs), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), and Oz (Chris Klein) have moved on to new phases of their lives, though they're filled with longing for the more exciting days we saw earlier in the series. Jim is stuck in a surprisingly lackluster marriage with Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), though he still finds time to plunge himself into hopelessly embarrassing situations. The rest of the gang is equally as unsatisfied with their current lives.
Luckily for them, their high school reunion is right around the corner and they have the perfect excuse to hit up the old home town in Michigan for some good old fashion debauchery. "You only get one chance to celebrate your 13th reunion" a character reflects at one point, a little jab from the filmmakers at making the big reunion movie three years too late. Many would have just made it the 10-year high school anniversary and crossed their fingers that the audience wouldn't notice.
Missing at first from the original group is Stifler (Seann William Scott), mainly because he's the type of guy that nobody wants to admit to even knowing, let alone being friends with. But fear not, as Stifler forces his way back into the inner circle and is leading them back into chaos and awkward situations as only he can. He's also needed to throw the inevitable big reunion party, which brings back even more of the familiar faces from before. Stifler's mom (Jennifer Coolidge) is also there for a couple expected punch lines, but the novelty of her character has worn off by this point.
And it's in bringing the old characters back that causes "American Reunion" to stumble, as we often pause for reintroductions before we can proceed with the story. Though John Cho delivers some of the best lines in the entire movie as MILF Guy #2 (and some of the worst), everyone else just seems to be tossed in nearly at random. Jim's old flame Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) and Vicky (Tara Reid) are so loosely drawn that they stand out in a movie that abandoned reality before the credit sequence.
But "American Reunion" often comes down to Stifler, who has mostly become a sad caricature of himself. Stifler does get to some funny antics and a couple one-liners that remind us of "American Pie," but he's mostly too creepy and ridiculous to be taken seriously. He was probably just as much of an extraterrestrial in high school, but he sticks out like a sore thumb now that he has to wear a tie and blend into a business setting. Ten seconds into his screen time in "American Reunion," Stifler has already committed three or four fireable offenses, and it doesn't get much better from there. Stifler's the kind of character who is best left off in the distance so you can laugh at how ridiculous he's being from afar, but he's a train wreck for everyone involved when you have to deal with him up close.
Though a committed effort by Seann William Scott can't save Stifler, Eugene Levy is still entertaining as Jim's good-willed but terrifically embarrassing father, whose deadpanned sexual commentary remains a highlight of the series. Get him going on his sexual past and you never know where it might be headed, and you get a cringe-worthy understanding of why Jim resorts to the tube sock.
Though the situations are no less extreme and ridiculous than earlier in the series, the characters across the board are as clueless as ever. Our main five might combine to sport an IQ that reaches triple-digits, with interest, and much of "American Reunion" feels like everyone is just going through the motions. But even though "American Reunion" is far from a groundbreaking sequel, it's still a nice trip down memory lane for short stretches before coming crashing back to reality. While it doesn't bring back the magic of the original, reunions seldom do.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org