Watching “American Reunion” is sort of like going to your own high school reunion: It’s not nearly as much fun as it should be.
As nice as it is to see some of the old gang again, the tang of unrealized dreams and squandered potential hangs over the scene like a vapor. The good ol’ days are just that and continuing to chase them feels increasingly pathetic. Rebelling against authority is harder when you’re starting to resemble your parents.
The first movie was way back in 1999, which feels like a different era now. Over the closing credits we see photographs of the cast from “American Pie,” looking so young and achingly fresh. They’re still pretty young; the youngest of the main cast is 31, the oldest 38. But let’s face it: Their film careers are pretty much kaput.
(What, you didn’t see Chris Klein in “Hank and Mike,” a movie about two guys in pink bunny suits in which he wasn’t even one of the bunnies? Or Jason Biggs in “Lower Learning”?)
“Pie” was actually quite funny with some unexpected sentimentalism mixed in with the scatological humor. The sequel was reasonably entertaining and the third one, where horny geekboy Jim (Biggs) marries high school sweetheart-slash-dominatrix Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) was … sufficient.
But the last feature film was way back in 2003, and since then there have been four more movies that went straight to video, dubbed “American Pie Presents…” featuring Stifler’s cousin going to college or something. The brand hasn’t been so much devalued as pimped out and strung out.
So it’s hard to see “American Reunion” as anything other than a cynical chance to cash in on fading popularity.
Original directors Paul and Chris Weitz are long gone, and directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, who previously helmed one of the “Harold & Kumar” flicks, also co-wrote the script.
The story plays out with predictable character arcs. The gang is back in town for its 13-ish-year high school reunion — somebody spaced on the 10th, so this is the makeup — and it’s an opportunity for old romances to be reunited.
For Jim and Michelle, that means getting the heat back in the bedroom. After a few years of marriage and a 2-year-old, they’re no longer getting their freak on — at least not when they’re both in the same room.
Oz (Klein) is now the famous host of a sports blather show and TV dancing star. He’s got a super-hot girlfriend but still pines for Heather (Mena Suvari). Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), having conquered the challenge of bedding Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge), has moved on to a life of international mystery.
Stifler (Seann William Scott), meanwhile, is still the same party-hearty dude who manages to rub everyone the wrong way. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), the vanilla-ish nice guy, lives in marital bliss until he sees old flame Vicky (Tara Reid) again.
There are a few genuinely funny bits, mostly involving sexual humor, such as when Jim gets caught pantless in the kitchen and resorts to some transparent attempts at hiding his manhood. There’s also a gag involving Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy) and a bucket of popcorn worth a few hoots.
But mostly, “American Reunion” just feels tired. It’s the act of getting back together just for the sake of being back together for awhile.