Sunday, April 8, 2012

American Reunion (2012) - Movie Review

Having just had my high school reunion last summer, I can attest to how fun it can be to reunite with everyone and catch up.  I think that made me look forward to American Reunion to see the gang back together.  Unfortunately, I had more fun at my own reunion than watching this movie.

The title pretty much tells you the entire premise.  It's time for their reunion, their 13-year reunion.  Why 13?  I have no idea.  They make reference early in the movie that there was a recent reunion they didn't attend, like their 10-year reunion perhaps?  Why not just fib a little and make it the 15 year reunion?  Sure, it's been 13 years since the first American Pie, but is accuracy really the most important thing here?

They do manage to get the entire cast back together, but that seems like more of a reflection of the fact that none of these guys had much else going on.  It's kind of ironic that the biggest current star from the original cast, John Cho ("MILF!"), was only a bit part in the first movie.  Throughout the film they will randomly throw in a character from the series.  Towards the end, when certain characters show up, it felt more like they were just trying to fill a quota.  Like a teacher doing roll call and making sure everyone is in attendance.

There's not much to the plot either; they reunite, drink and party, and move from one awkward situation to the next.  Here's the biggest problem: when American Pie came out in 1999, it was a fresh and fun take on raunchy teen comedies.  The material, and sadly many of the actors, hasn't aged well.  Also, you have many more people out there that are doing much better versions this genre to compare it against.  You really have to have good material and unfortunately, this doesn't deliver.  There some some mildly amusing things here and there, but the movie barely got more than a chuckle out of me or seemingly anyone else in the theater.  There's nothing new here and you've seen it all before.  As with the previous films, the highlights are when Stifler (Seann William Scott) or Jim's Dad (Eugene Levy) are on screen.

When the movie is nearly two hours long, the lack of comedy really starts to wear on you.  It tries to be a little more poignant and thoughtful towards the end, but it didn't seemed earned.  This is due in large part to a pet peeve I have about movies where a misunderstanding occurs and it's something that could be cleared up with just a line of dialog or simple conversation.  Instead, someone storms off without listening to what the other person has to say.  It's a lazy way to have conflict in your movies.

It doesn't help that writer Adam Herz, from the first three films, is not back this time. Reunion was written and directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, who already haven't impressed me with their work on the Harold and Kumar series.  In the hands of a better writing team, this could have been so much more.  Hurwitz and Schlossberg are capable of writing funny things, but it seems like they miss more than they hit.  Perhaps these guys would work better writing shorter sketches.

While you don't watch an American Pie movie expecting great acting, seeing all these guys back together really makes you aware at how bad some of them are, and why you haven't seen them much outside of this series.  Chris Klein really is a terrible actor.  This isn't a surprise to anyone that's seen his recent movies, but when you stand out as the worst actor even among this group (Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Alyson Hannigan), then it's really bad.  These guys make Jason Biggs look like a capable actor.

It felt like the real star here is Ali Cobrin, who plays the girl next door that Jim used to babysit.  Without spoiling too much, she shows off her assets in a part of the film that will be sure to please most every guy watching the movie.

American Reunion is like going for that last piece of Pie when you're already full.  It's a little cold and tough to get down, but still tastes okay.  It was nice seeing the gang back together, but it would have been better to see them in a funnier movie.  I always say stuff like this, Reunion is not awful, but it could have been so much more.  I'm just disappointed.  If you're a fan of the series, you'll get some entertainment out of this latest installment, but even then I still think it's better suited as a rental.

2.5 (out of 5) Death Stars


  1. I had a fine amount of fun to this whole film because I love all of the characters from this series and know what to expect from any of these movies. It isn't hilarious the whole time throughout and definitely doesn't do anything new or original with its premise or jokes, but when the jokes hit, they hit hard and work. Nice review Erik.

  2. Like we've both observed, I think the thing that makes this movie suffer the most is it's bloated runtime. It's the longest of the series and this could have afforded to lose 10-15 minutes.

    I watched the original trilogy over the weekend after seeing Reunion and another thing that struck me as odd was that Michelle's quirkiness is all but gone. You really get the feeling that Alyson Hannigan didn't really want to be in this.