American Reunion: Another serving of pie
This sweet, but unquestionably juvenile series serves us up another helping with the entire original cast. But is this fourth official entry into the American Pie series one penis/pastry gag too far, or can the former sex-starved collective still raise enough vulgar laughs?
After the increasingly unashamed cash-ins left nothing more than a diluted whimper and feverish soil over the series, it is with equal parts of nostalgic curiosity and cautious trepidation, that we revisit the lives of Jim (Jason Biggs) and co. The original foursome, Oz (Chris Klein), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and the aforementioned Jim are all living with grown up responsibilities: children, marriage and careers have replaced the parties, drinking and immaturity. When the opportunity to let loose at their high school reunion arises, the guys, accompanied by the ever uncouth Stifler (Seann William Scott), embark on their own nostalgic trip down memory lane, to forget the contemporary hum-drum and relive that pre-millennium feeling.
To be honest, it’s all fairly straightforward knockabout stuff: some of the comedic set pieces are snappy and build with infectious excitement where others fall flat, appearing as a touch trying. But bizarrely, the original and more disgusting gags are disappointingly absent, which is strange given that the series is clearly so proud of its masturbatory pastry antics which the previous films had been built on. Revisiting and re-energizing the gross out comedy spectrum from the characters matured view could have produced interesting results, yet the culminating ideas seem to only touch upon these possibilities. And when American Reunion does inevitably play its few scatological cards, it ends up feeling weirdly dated and badly thought through, rather than repulsively incredulous.
One successful facet of the original film was the lead characters’ blatant inability to control their bodily functions (along with rationally comprehending other people’s), which was expressed through eye-wateringly embarrassing encounters with context relevant, adolescent circumstance: peer pressure, parents, pies and prophylactics. This is one of the key aspects that made the original characters relatable to teen audiences… Well that and the fact it was astoundingly rude. American Reunion doesn’t sink its teeth into the possibilities of a decade of personal development; the shadow of nostalgia extends merely to cover the film in a fire blanket, ultimately reaching no higher than to emit a base pleasure from seeing the characters on screen together again.
It’s not all disappointing though as the threads of apple-pie sweetness, which ensured the original film didn’t become an overload of hormonal lechery, still lace American Reunion. Acting as a glue, this earnest core which is most successful in Jim’s relationship with his dad (Eugene Levy) and Oz and Heather’s (Mena Suvari) fleeting encounters, once again draws enough pleasantries to balance the film’s other problems out somewhat. Without this, the story line would be nothing more than a series of people flashing their privates accompanied by the ever potty-mouthed Sean William Scott swearing loudly – the glue does just enough to keep it ticking along.
Derivative, nowhere near as crude or as funny as the first film, far too preoccupied with the wheeling out of original cast members and in danger from being wholly tainted by nostalgia, American Reunion does still hold an undeniable charm which is enough to entertain and raise a smile and a chuckle, but nothing more than that.
American Reunion is released nationwide on 2nd May 2012.
Watch the trailer for American Reunion here: