3 May 2012

AMERICAN PIE: REUNION- Review

"It's wonderful, it's magical, oh boy, here it comes, another mouth." So says Homer Simpson, when Marge is giving birth to Maggie, and that's a difficult sentiment to shake, when watching American Pie: Reunion. The difference is that the episode in question, "And Maggie Makes Three", ends with Homer falling completely in love with his third child once it arrives. There's considerably less to love in this belated fourth (sorta) instalment in the pie-fucking saga.

Presumably for reasons of scheduling conflicts with the cast, East Great Falls High holds 13-year school reunions, so the original class of '99 return to their hometown for a weekend of debauchery and catching up. The A-plot of the film is based around the negative effect of parenthood on Jim and Michelle's sex life, but once he meets up with Kevin, Finch, Oz and Stifler once again, this quickly reveals itself as a regression into being desperate for sex and not getting it, wrapped up in a whole ton of subplots about the other characters.

Enough has changed since the 1990s that those of us who grew up in that decade can be nostalgic for the way things used to be. I imagine that's especially true if you were a teenager at that point, which I wasn't, because those are the years where the culture shapes your identity. Hell, the webcam scene from American Pie was pretty much revolutionary. American Pie: Reunion only really deploys one actual joke about how much things have changed, and it raised a chuckle from me. The rest of the time, they're just pointing to things that are supposed to have changed.

There are two moments of exquisite truth in the script, which comes from Jon Hurtwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, the team behind the Harold & Kumar movies. The first moment comes from an interaction between old sweethearts Oz and Heather. She tells him that while some parts of his personality have changed completely, he's stayed exactly the same in other ways, to which he responds "Nothing's changed." A very astute observation there, considering that it's been a mere nine years since we saw these characters, which apparently wasn't long enough for most of them to develop their personalities or become much more mature than they were in the execrable American Pie: The Wedding.

The second moment comes when one character reveals that he's been working as an assistant manager in Staples since we last saw him, rather than gallivanting around the globe having adventures, as expected. After the huge success of the first film, none of the cast have really gone on to any form of stardom, except for Seann William Scott and Alyson Hannigan, and looking at their acting here, it's not hard to see why. Chris Klein is still like an even less charismatic Keanu Reeves and Tara Reid always sounds like she's reading her lines off cue cards. I don't dislike Jason Biggs, but he really only has one act, and it's been wearing thin for a long, long time now.

Despite the pains to bring back most of the named cast in the original film, American Pie: Reunion doesn't even pretend to give a rat's arse about what the female characters are doing, which was part of what made the first film different. Hannigan, Reid and Mena Suvari are present for much of the film, but not much more than present. The subplots all centre around the five male leads, and most of them fizzle out far in advance of any punchline. Dania Ramirez is a new addition who blends right in by having as little to do as the regulars, while teen actor Ali Corbin could well follow in the footsteps of the young would-be stars from the first film, because as cute as her performance may be, her character is all about being objectified by much older men.

On the positive side, the actual high school reunion, which follows in the wake of about 90 minutes of the same old stuff, is inarguably the highlight of the movie. John Cho is one of the few actors who went onto bigger things after American Pie, and reunited with the minds behind Harold & Kumar, he somehow gets more mileage out of the dopey character who popularised MILF in teen culture, the first time around. Lots of other minor characters follow suit. If they hadn't made either of the other sequels, or any of the DTV dreck that has filled shelves since The Wedding, the reunion sequence would be the perfect, short, sweet follow-up to the original.

American Pie: Reunion leans on nostalgia way too heavily- don't they know that we're only just getting done with 80's throwbacks? This film is either ten years too late, or ten years too early, and the highlights are pretty sparse. The more reliable comedy actors amongst the cast, particularly Eugene Levy, put in a pretty good show, but the reunion isn't really worth the effort. I say this as somebody who doesn't even rate the first film all that highly, but I didn't hate this sequel- that probably averages out to where fans of the series might enjoy this instalment. But please, no more. We really don't need another mouth.

American Reunion is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
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If you've seen American Reunion, why not share your comments below? I wish I remember who said this, but someone on Twitter gave the best pithy review of this film that I've seen- "After all these years, it's wonderful to see Eugene Levy's left eyebrow reunited with Eugene Levy's right eyebrow."

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

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