It is rare to meet a college student who hasn’t at least seen bits and pieces of the “American Pie” series.
However, the comedy film market has changed drastically since the movie’s debut in 1999. Unfortunately, “American Reunion” plays it safe, utilizing the same raunchy, juvenile jokes and situations that made the original so popular.
“American Reunion” stars all of the original “American Pie” characters we know and love, returning home for their high school reunion nearly a decade later. Their problems are typical — continually lousy relationships, dull jobs and the thought of approaching middle age.
The answer to their problems is simple and unsurprising: let the partying commence.
The group reunites in their hometown, where shots are taken, clothing is misplaced, identities are mistaken and friendships are jeopardized.
Since high school, couples such as Jim and Michelle, played by Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan, have married, while others have grown apart, but sure enough, Finch, played by Eddie Kaye Thomas, still longs for Stifler’s mom. No matter what has changed, coming home inspires them to reminisce about their past. They each discover what and who has changed and what hasn’t, and learn that no amount of time or distance can break the bonds of friendship.
However, none of these shenanigans make much of an impression. The biggest downfall of “American Reunion” is the lack of character development. In newer comedies like “Wedding Crashers,” “The Hangover” or “Bridesmaids,” the characters are more complex, creating an appealing plot line.
Here, the characters are all based on partying and being juvenile.
Perhaps one of the most nostalgic-yet-annoying aspects of “American Reunion” is that the film brings back so many characters from the first film. It is fun to see the gang back in action, and it is reassuring that each character does exactly what you expect.
More importantly, the film lacks a central character. The directors tried cramming in all of the original characters without focusing on one or two principals.
But this strategy backfires, leaving too many actors with too little to do, resulting in constant appearances and one-liners that distract from the action, negatively affecting the flow of the film.
While the script suffers from a severe lack of emotional scenes or poignant memories, there are some surprisingly heartfelt moments, including one between Jim and his father, played by Eugene Levy.
“American Reunion” has the unmistakable air of childish jokes and situations that comprise the entire plot. From jokes about fecal matter to the all too unfortunate situation regarding the pie, there is a severe lack of substance to carry the story.
Perhaps the biggest draw of “American Reunion” is the chance to revisit these characters for the first time since the last film, “American Wedding.” But it doesn’t offer much beyond that.
If a viewer’s primary purpose is to see how the characters’ lives have come together — or, more accurately, have fallen apart — the answer is here. If you’re looking to rediscover the experience of the original film, the time machine back to 1999 is broken.
On a positive note, the movie seems to intentionally feed into some of the gloominess. By nature, reunions tend to be bittersweet. It’s fun and exciting to meet up with old friends, catching up and discussing new lifestyles. However, it also becomes evident how quickly time can slip away.
While the moral has potential to get a strong point across, it’s tough to see it through all the hysteria and pubescent antics.
As the saying goes, some things should be left in the past, and, unfortunately, the “American Pie” ensemble is one of them.