Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Jason Biggs, Alyson
Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Seann William Scott, Tara Reid, Mena
Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, John Cho, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge
Director: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 114 Minutes
Release Date: July 10, 2012
“I'm Stifler's mom.”
“I'm Jim's dad!”
What is it about the American Pie series? We keep thinking it's over and done, but at the same time, we never feel it's worn out its welcome with us. When a new entry is announced and released, we're always there.
Maybe it's because, despite of the gleeful overreach in the raunch department, these movies gave us characters we've come to know, love, and enjoy. Seeing them again in a new misadventure is always akin to catching up with some old friends.
American Reunion, the latest installment, brings us back 13 years after the kids have graduated. Once sex-obsessed, young, and awkward, they are now adults making their way in the world of work, family, and fitting in...still as awkward as ever, and sex? Well, it never was as easy as it seemed, was it?
Jim (Biggs) and Michelle (Hannigan) are married with child, and both still trying to hold on to that passion that erupted so hilariously in the first movie. Oz (Klein) has become a psuedo-celebrity, hosting a sports program that's not quite ESPN and enjoying a slice of embarrassing fame from appearing in a dance reality program. His wife is lovely, driven, but he finds he still pines for the sweet romance he once had with Heather (Suvari).
Kevin (Nicholas) is also living the suburban family life, and not sure if he's ready for his encounter with his old school flame Vicky (Reid). And Finch (Thomas) seems to be living the life of world class adventure, but all is not what it seems.
Have I left anybody out? OH yes...Stifler (Scott in his most iconic role). How does a guy in perpetual arrested development cut it in the real world? Not well, but if we know Stifler, he won't convert to respectable adulthood easily.
The reunion brings the old friends together and issues both new and old. They have to look at the new crop of kids all around and realize that now, suddenly, THEY are the old guys on the block. It doesn't help that a kid Jim once babysat is now grown up, gorgeous, and always had a crush on him.
Thanks to Stifler, you know that boundaries of decency and good taste will be crossed (hence the thankfully unrated version available on this Blu-ray), but thanks to the others, you know that despite the crassness, there will be a genuine sweetness as well. None personifies this so well as Jim's dad (Levy), hapless but loveable, and dealing with the loss of his beloved wife. When Jim decides Dad needs a good party, the results are everything you'd expect.
I howled at this movie...in fact, I would go so far as to say this is a funnier film than either The Hangover or Bridesmaids. How is it possible that after so many installments in the franchise and the fact that I know and get exactly what I expect from each movie that I still find them so funny, so charming, so damned entertaining?
Maybe it's just the improbable mix of dirty, boundary crossing sex comedy with genuine characters having genuine problems and finding that love can indeed conquer all. You get plenty of one and plenty of the other when you go to the movies these days, but few movies pull off the balancing act so deftly.
Does it need to stop there? Well, I'll be heading to my own 25th reunion next month, so as far as I can see, there is plenty more for this loveable bunch to pull off over the years. I'd certainly rather go to one of their events than my own, but our class seriously lacked one Steve Stifler.
BONUS TRIVIA: Natasha Lyonne and Shannon Elizabeth make small appearances.
The new 100th anniversary logo for Universal looks stunning in HD. The rest of the film? Pretty good, but in keeping with the series' aesthetics, there is a slightly muted tone to the colors throughout. Images are fairly sharp, and the print is pristine, but there's not a lot in the visuals to make demands on your system.
There was not a lot of use of the rear channels apart from a couple of big party scenes, but the music sounds good, and the dialogue is well-rendered throughout. Dynamic range is fairly strong considering there are no big action sequences to show off. This is a movie driven by the spoken word, and you won't miss a gag.
You expect a lot from a Pie release, and you get that here. There is a commentary track, deleted scenes, extended scenes, alternate takes, an “out of control” track, as well as several amusing featurettes on the cast reunion, a yearbook, Jason Biggs, and an extended look at Oz's hilarious dance.
I have to admit, I never want to say bye-bye and miss American Pie. American Reunion proves that teen sex comedies can grow up and still lose none of their daring edge. This is a hilariously good time.