UK Release: Wednesday 2 May 2012
Back in 1999, the very first American Pie outing managed to tick boxes that not every teen comedy could tick. Not only was it hilarious for viewers of all ages (well, most ages), but it also had a real sense of friendship and heart at the centre of it that was actually just a lil’ bit touching.
Miraculously, the quality was more-or-less seamlessly replicated for the 2001 sequel… but then it all went out of the window. By the time American Pie: The Wedding rolled around in 2003, several cast members had bailed out and the mix of cheap gags and genuine gravitas was thrown wildly off-balance. Throw in a countless number of straight-t0-DVD spin-offs and the perfection of the original became harder and harder to recall.
It’s only been three years since the godawful American Pie: The Book Of Love, but a lot has changed in time for American Reunion. All of the original cast is back, but they’re all in very different places to when we last left them. Jim and Michelle (Jason Biggs and Alysson Hannigan) are sexlessly married with a young son, Kev (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has settled down with a reality TV addict, Oz (Chris Klein) is a D-list celebrity and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has all kinds of stories from his global travels. The four of them slip into their old roles with little difficulty, and it’s heartwarming to see. In fact, aside from Nicholas’ added facial hair, they don’t even look that different.
They’re all back in town for their high school reunion, and as well as being reunited with the rest of the awesome foursome, they have a lot of other ex-classmates to catch up with as well – not least Stifler (Sean William Scott), who, as far as the gags are concerned, pretty much steals the show. Introduced with the same kind of shot that bought us to his house party back in 1999 (you know, the one where the camera follows him around the room), he hasn’t grown up one bit. From trying to pull high school-age girls to taking a particularly unpleasant dump, he is the life and soul of the movie and takes credit for the lion’s share of the laughs.
As far as the others go, the film focusses so exclusively on the boys (and, bizarrely, a new and slightly annoying 18-year-old girl) that many familiar faces are pushed majorly to the sidelines. Heather (Mena Suvari) and Vicky (Tara Reid) are particularly under-used considering how important they are to their respective sub-plots, and old favourites Jessica (Natasha Lyonne) and Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) are genuinely only seen for about a minute, tops. But their loss is Eugene Levy’s gain, and in his hands Jim’s Dad is an unexpected highlight of the whole film. With his character now widowed, his scenes prove his unforeseen versatility as an actor – disarmingly strong at the touching stuff, and unsurprisingly hysterical at the awkward father-son gags.
Does Reunion have the same warmth as the original? Not quite. But then these characters aren’t the same naive kids they were back in 1999, and writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have done a decent job of weaving a story that keeps most of their endearing character traits in tact. The humour is in tip-top shape (even if it does do absolutely no favours for feminism), and anyone who grew up with a great fondness for Jim and co. will lap up this bonus slice of Pie.