No one likes getting old. What sucks almost as much as aging though, is doing things which make you feel old, like watching “American Reunion.” Despite its emphasis on sentimental nostalgia, the fourth film in the “American Pie” franchise simply reminds us that we can't live in the past forever.
The premise for reuniting the characters from East Great Falls is surprisingly sound. Their high school missed the group’s 10 year reunion, so they’ve decided to reconvene 13 years later instead. It’s an odd number and an unlucky one, but whatever. This should be a prime opportunity to catch up with everyone, and to introduce a whole new level of comedy now that they’re real adults. If only we could be so lucky.
Sadly the characters are almost exactly where we left them, despite their enormous changes in lifestyle: Jim is a bumbling mess, Kevin is insecure, Finch is trying desperately hard to be interesting, Oz is uptight, Stifler is a giant a-hole, and Jim’s dad still likes to over share. The most frustrating lack of growth comes from Stifler, who started to turn over a new leaf at the end of the previous film, and apparently has regressed to his former self.
One thing that is different about our friends is that their problems are much more depressing. Jim fights marital troubles, Jim’s dad struggles to get over his wife’s death, Kevin and Oz are confused about old flames, and neither Stifler nor Finch are really as cool as they think. While these morose issues are more adult in nature, they really bring down the mood of the movie.
To offset the gloomy portions in “American Reunion” there are plenty of comedic moments which bear the imprint of this franchise. You have gratuitous female nudity as expected, and at least one unnecessary penis shot which is outside the norm for the series. As usual, Jim finds himself in a number of awkward situations so embarrassing you’ll cringe between laughs.
Seann William Scott steals the show however, as the over-the-top arrogant pervert Stifler, spouting almost all of the best lines. He also plays one of the most twisted, disgusting pranks ever recorded in a movie. To provide you a gauge, the overall level of hilarity of this film is relatively on par with “American Wedding.”
“American Reunion” features a rather strange side-story about a high school senior named Kara (Ali Cobrin). Kara, who was Jim’s neighbor growing up, is on a quest to lose her virginity to an older guy. Jim and his friends end up partying with her and sparring with some of her male peers. In these moments, the gang makes cracks about the youngsters and even engages in fisticuffs with them, but the filmmakers don’t really make a stand on which generation cooler.
At times this “American Reunion” is pleasantly nostalgic with its 90s music, and its reuse of familiar locations from the other movies. The familiarity quickly gives way to sadness as you realize 13 years have passed since the first time we met these kids. It’s especially depressing when you see the actors that didn’t age gracefully and when the characters say things that make them seem old like “The last time I tried this cellphones didn’t exist.”
At the end, as they all sit at their favorite hot dog establishment, they contemplate reuniting every year. In the audience, you secretly hope this is their last cinematic outing, because when you reach a certain age immaturity stops being funny. The high school and college days were hilarious, but everyone has to grow up sometime, including the guys from “American Pie.”