'American Reunion': pathetic for cast, viewers

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceApril 5, 2012 


    'American Reunion'

    1 star out of 5

    R for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking. Universal. 113 min. Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Movie Tavern, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester, Woodhill.

So why, why more American Pie? It's a lame one, just the same one, now with much older guys. And starlets wearing mileage from all their whiskey and rye. Singing "Why did my career go 'bye'?"

American Reunion is a slow and sad, crude and cruel, tame and timid return to the scene of the crime against pastry. No, they don't joke about how this all takes place an unlucky 13 years later than the first movie, which came out in 1999. But life hasn't run according to plan for the lads — Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) or Stifler (Seann William Scott).

Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), on the other hand, roars up to their pre-13th reunion party on a motorcycle, full of tales of adventure and derring-do.

Jim is married to band-camp tart Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), and they have a toddler. Oz is a cable TV sportscaster who never made it to ESPN. He has a hot young model girlfriend (Katrina Bowden) who is entirely too wild for his mild-mannered ways. Kevin is an architect and stay-at-home dad. And Stifler suffers the fate of many an ex-jock bully boy: living in the past because the present, when he has to work for guys like the ones he beat up in school, is agony.

They decide to make this reunion their Hangover weekend: heavy drinking, drugs, chasing old flames or high school girls, hiding their transgressions from their significant others.

Harold and Kumar vets Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg wrote and directed this trip down Full Frontal Nudity Lane. They're lost trying to update this exhausted franchise (this is the fourth installment, after American Pie 2 and American Wedding), failing to find any funny new lines, relying on shock laughs involving oral sex, using an ice chest as a toilet and whatever dated dose of crudity Stifler blurts out.

There's an interesting but obvious contrast scene between the "wild boys" of yesteryear and the drugs, sex and Party Rock teens of today. That nails American Reunion in just a few moments of screen time.

How can a bunch of sad, sentimental 30-somethings be edgy in the age of Project X and Superbad? They can't.

And the struggle shows when undertaken by a cast of (mostly) desperate actors (Tara Reid, John Cho, Mena Suvari and Natasha Lyonne make token appearances) whose careers peaked with these movies.

But there's still "one time, at band camp ... ." There's still a hint of whimsy in the father-son scenes between Eugene Levy and Biggs, still a little brassy-broad humor in the return of "Stifler's Mom" (Jennifer Coolidge). But mostly, watching folks in this age range get tanked and make bad decisions isn't nostalgic. It's just sad.

Just like a real reunion, in other words.

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