Reunited and it ain’t so good
Carl J. Bachus | Review Writer
Rating 2 / 5 Stars
It just wasn’t that funny. That is about the worst thing that can be said about “American Reunion,” the latest theatrical installment in the once-hilarious teen comedy franchise. That may be where the film falls short as a comedy: The characters aren’t teenagers anymore and neither is the target audience. It was set up for failure from the beginning.
The film picks up 10 years after the events of the third film, “American Wedding,” and the entire gang has gone their separate ways. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan from “How I Met Your Mother”) are living in a sexless marriage thanks to their 2-year-old; Oz (Chris Klein) is a sportscaster for the NFL; Kevin (Thomas Ian Nichols) is making a living as an architect; Stifler (Seann William Scott) is a temp and Finch (Eddie Kay Thomas) has all but disappeared. The shenanigans kick off when they receive invitations to their 13-year high school reunion, and the group is reunited in East Great Falls. The good times start to unravel when Kevin and Vicky, his old high school girlfriend, find themselves in an awkward situation, an 18-year-old that Jim used to babysit tries to seduce him and Oz and Heather reunite for the first time since their breakup.
To say that this film is a waste of time is not entirely true. Yes, the comedy falls flat often. That can be blamed on the fact that the target demographic, teens who saw the originals in theaters, have matured and fellatio jokes and toilet humor just don’t cut it. However, the film works better as a comedy-drama. The emotionally driven scenes came off as genuine and heartfelt, which is great; but that’s not what was advertised. Those looking for “American Pie 4” will be met with an effective, if extremely uneven, character piece. With Stifler.
There were good aspects to “Reunion.” The performances were on point, which was expected. By the third sequel of any franchise, actors are usually able to get back into their roles like an old outfit. The cast members know who they’re playing, and it projects well on the nostalgic tone of the film. Yes, the script seemed slapped together, like a reunion episode of an old television show, but the plot isn’t what makes you see it: it’s the cast and the familiar situations and the promise of more of the same that bring in the audience. Unfortunately for the fans of the original, more of the same feels like an insult to a generation’s collective intelligence.
“American Reunion” is OK. It’s not good, and it’s not bad. The film would have been much better if the humor had matured alongside the characters. It’s impossible to re-create the original film’s humor for the original film’s audience because they have aged and the characters have, too. If the viewers know that going in, then they can let go of those expectations and view the film for what it is: a well-intentioned, but poorly executed, cash grab that’s heavy on the nostalgia and light on the laughs.