The opening scene of “American Reunion” is a typical one for the “American Pie” series. It’s a bedroom setting, clothes scattered on the floor and suggestive music rolling in the background. But once the camera stops panning around the room, it settles on a quite different scene: Main character Jim (Jason Biggs, “American Wedding”) is typing away on a laptop, seated next to his wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan, “American Wedding”), who is busy rocking their baby son to sleep.
Of course, with the “American Pie” series, an outrageous sex scene is always around the corner. However, this opener marks a new phase for “American Pie,” where the characters are older, not-so-much wiser, and longing to relive their high school days.
The premise of “American Reunion” is that a close-knit group of friends from high school reconnects after years apart; unfortunately, none of them are living out the lives they once envisioned for themselves. Some characters find themselves unhappily successful, while others are just trying to keep a job. Jim, for his part, comes to the disheartening realization that even as a married adult, his sex life is once again at a standstill.
Once reunited, the group vows to make its high school reunion live up to adolescent glory days. Right away, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas, “American Wedding”) and Oz (Chris Klein, “American Pie 2”) find themselves tempted by girls from their past while Jim is hounded by his attractive and barely legal neighbor, a girl whom he used to babysit. As the weekend progresses, the boys find themselves increasingly entangled in complications involving former girlfriends and identity crises as Jim struggles to cheer up his grieving father and to appease the lonely Michelle.
For the most part, it seems as though the crew has replaced the shot glasses on kitchen counters with baby bottles and briefcases. Unlike the carefree dilemmas they faced as teens, the problems that arise in “American Reunion” are actual issues with which adults in their 30s grapple. Most college students can’t relate to this life phase just yet, but that doesn’t mean they can’t share in Stifler’s (Seann William Scott, “American Wedding”) anguish when the “rager” at his house becomes a sophisticated soiree, complete with married couples and appetizers.
However, “American Reunion” does not disappoint audiences when it comes to outrageous parties, even if the cast is heading toward middle-age; Stifler’s event ends in a brawl between a group of pretentious high school kids and an alarmed Jim, who happens to be clad in a black leather dominatrix outfit provided by his wife.
With the exception of a few jaw-dropping scenes, the movie is largely predictable. There are some questions as to who will get back together with their exes, but nobody actually believes that Jim’s sweet father will end up unhappily alone or that Jim will cheat on his beloved Michelle. Although “American Reunion” has a few of its own funny moments, the greatest appeal is laughing back on the jokes that first made “American Pie” legendary.
The characters in “American Reunion” have been well-preserved — acting realistically older, yet still as much of a good time as when they were all eager-eyed high school virgins, allowing audiences to feel both the group’s pains and triumphs on almost a personal level. Seeing old characters reappear (the Shermanator!) a little older but still lovably the same is a large part of the comedy in “American Reunion.”
Overall, the movie itself is not too innovative. It’s a fair conclusion to a beloved series, but only truly enjoyable for loyal fans of the other “American Pie” movies who essentially grew up with the cast and can relate to the problems the working-age characters are facing. Sentimentality is what makes “American Reunion” special, and most viewers will find that there are a fair number of moments that leave the audience laughing, if not simply for old times’ sake.
3 stars out of 5