by Peter Paras | Thu., Apr. 5, 2012 3:30 PM
Review in a Hurry: Jim, Michelle, and the rest of the Class of 1999 return to their hometown for their 13-year high school reunion. As evidenced by Stifler's receding hairline, they've all gotten a little older, but the humor in American Reunion is still late-'90s raunch. Which, for the American Pie series, is exactly what it should be, right?
Still, some of this pie feels stale.
The Bigger Picture: Though the original American Pie hasn't aged as well as other teen comedies (The Breakfast Club, Clueless), our affection for Pie's characters makes the latest work. Jason Biggs' Jim is still a very good everyman. Alyson Hannigan and series favorite Sean Williams Scott fall back into their roles nicely. Even the fictional town of East Great Falls (supposedly in Michigan) feels familiar in the best sense.
Seeing Tara Reid's Vicky reconnect with Thomas Ian Nicholas' Kevin onscreen puts us in a happy place.
Stuck in the '90s, however, are the sexual hijinks and gross-out gags which used to the be the only reason to see these films. With the characters now in their early 30s, seeing Jim, Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Oz (Chris Klein) try to sneak a topless 18-year-old (Maxim girl Ali Corbin) into her bedroom feels a little skeezy. And does Stifler really need to use an ice chest to relieve himself? These dudes are now adults!
Moments like these are meant to be Reunion's highlights, but they end up stopping the film dead while we wait for things to pick up by just hanging with the boys. Sadly, although Suvari and the rest of the gals have come back, they're mostly regulated to bit roles.
Then again, we've never been able to turn down more time with alpha-male the Stifmeister, the only character who's ever seemed comfortable in his own skin. He's also the most sympathetic. When Jim and the gang shun Stifler for not growing up (for like the umpteenth time), Stifler becomes relatable. Scott's taken a character that should be tired by now but still engages.
The script by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (they also directed) moves well from one reunion to another including the big finale at the high school gym. It's a great chance to see more Pie originals like Natasha Lyonne, John Cho and Shannon Elizabeth.
By the end, you almost want to see where these used-to-be-teens will go next.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Hard to believe, but this is the eighth film in the series. Four went straight to DVD and featured the still only named "Jim's Dad" played by the always-reliable Eugene Levy. Here, Jim's Dad finally meets the mother of all MILFs, Stifler's mom (Jennifer Coolidge). Rather telling that some of the best jokes are theirs.
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