American Reunion is a great finale to a funny and heartfelt franchise. For a certain generation this cast and characters have meant so much and to find them back together is a great accomplishment by the producers and filmmakers. The movie itself has some memorable moments and thankfully doesn’t restrain itself to the timeline of the direct-to-video sequels.
Universal | Unrated/R – 114 min. – $29.98 | July 10, 2012
Directed by: Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg
Writer(s): Adam Herz (characters); Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg (written by)
Cast: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jennifer Coolidge, Eugene Levy, Autumn Dial
Theatrical Release Date: April 6, 2012
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 4.25/5
“I say we make this weekend our bitch.”
The fourth, and presumably final, slice of pie entitled American Reunion is a blast from the past especially for those who grew up watching the American Pie films. The comedy is raunchy to say the least but in each one, there’s a heart at the core that takes it beyond just another forgettable sex comedy (see the numerous direct-to-video Pie spin-offs). It’s especially impressive that the filmmakers were able to cram every single person from the original even if it’s merely credited cameo appearances.
The movie follows our favorite characters now all grown up, mostly with careers, planning to meet for their 10th anniversary high school reunion… 3 years too late (and yes, they acknowledge this in the film). Jim (JASON BIGGS) and Michelle Levenstein (ALYSON HANNIGAN) are still married and have a 2-year-old son, however their sex life is lacking since his birth; Kevin (THOMAS IAN NICHOLAS) is also married and now an architect and avid watcher of “Real Housewives”; Chris “Oz” Ostreicher (CHRIS KLEIN) is a minor celebrity hosting a sports talk show and was once on a “Dancing with the Stars”-like show, he now has a bubbly and, let’s say, adventurous girlfriend; Paul Finch (EDDIE KAYE THOMAS) is apparently a world traveler seeing many countries and different cultures; and then there’s Steve “The Stiffmeister” Stifler (SEANN WILLIAM SCOTT), slightly toned down from his obnoxiousness in American Wedding working as a temp for a jackass boss.
The boys, and girls, all come back together for the reunion in East Falls, Michigan recounting stories of past, including Jim’s sex-capades with Nadia that’s gone viral, and slowly realizing that they are no longer young teens from unbearable antics on the beach to hearing a Spice Girls pop song on a classic rock radio station. Of course, some things never change as Stifler still a bit of juvenile and Jim gets into embarrassing sexual situations including trying to take home a drunken girl named Kara (ALI COBRIN) who he had babysat many years ago and who now has a crush on him. I only bring her up as her big scene is one of the most memorable…
The rest of the film finds the 5 guys realizing how much has changed… and how much hasn’t. You have Jim still finding himself in embarrassing situations; Kevin finds old emotions with former flame Vicky (TARA REID) stirring to the top; Oz realizing he misses Heather (MENA SUVARI) and might want to rekindle the relationship; Finch has his own secret, though he’s found new romance with old classmate, Selena (DANIA RAMIREZ); and Stifler… is still Stifler despite being a “bitch” in his workplace.
Like Scream 4 before it, American Reunion heavily relies on nostalgia but the material is so funny and getting the entire cast back together, even if it’s only for mere cameos by a few (see Shannon Elizabeth and Natassia Lyonne), is quite the feat for the filmmakers. The highlight for the movie, as really with the others, is Seann William Scott but thankfully he’s toned down from his obnoxiousness in American Wedding. Jason Biggs is, as usual, very funny and Alyson Hannigan is alright, albeit her role is fairly minimal especially considering the main focus is more on the guys.
Also coming back for the reunion is series regulars Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge, with the former having the distinguish honor of appearing in every American Pie movie including those (mostly) terrible direct-to-video sequels, which was completely ignored or even contradicting. Heck, the filmmakers make minimal reference to American Wedding with only one comment from Oz apologizing for missing Jim’s wedding.
The movie was written and directed by franchise newcomers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg who previously wrote Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and also directed the sequel, Harold & Kumar Go to Amsterdam. They bring a breath of fresh air to the franchise and even though they didn’t have any part of the previous movies, they seem to be right at home writing these characters and putting them in awkward situations.
American Reunion is hardly a perfect movie but like the first movie, and American Pie 2 for the most part as well, it combines gross-out humor, classic slapstick comedy with some heart to make for a great time. Compare that with other sexy comedies, even the Pie DTV sequels, which go for the cheap laughs. But the strength of the fourth movie in the franchise is, of course, the cast. After over a decade since they were last all together (2001), they all fit right back into their characters while still showed growth, for the most part anyway.
This is a generational film so I can only speak as somebody who grew up with this franchise; in fact, I’m a graduate of the class of ’99, so I don’t know how it plays with those in high school and college now, but for myself I immensely enjoyed this slice of pie (this review needed at least one pun) and if you enjoyed the previous movies, this one will be right up your alley. American Reunion is a fitting end to a nice franchise, something that, despite a few good scenes, American Wedding failed to do.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
Feature Commentary – Co-Writers/Co-Directors Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg sit down for a fun yet still informative commentary track talking about the story, getting the cast back together and filming at various locations.
Deleted Scenes (7:51) – Seven scenes that failed to make the cut are presented here and probably for good reason as they’re not very funny or didn’t further the story along. Of course, it’s nice to see them here at least. There is a scene with Jess (Natasha Lyonne) and Finch (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and a sex scene between Finch and Selena as well.
Gag Reel (3:43) – Always a classic feature, here we get to see the on-set tomfoolery between the cast members.
The “Reunion” Reunion: Re-Launching the Series (10:32) – This is a relatively short featurette chronicling bringing the entire cast back together with some behind-the-scenes footage and introducing us to the new cast members.
Jim’s Dad (2:47) – Yep, Eugene Levy, the only actor to appear in every American Pie movie (including the DTV ones) gets his due on this release.
Ouch! My Balls! (1:47) is a short featurette with ball punches the cast do to one another throughout the shoot.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Universal releases American Reunion onto DVD with a nice looking anamorphic widescreen transfer. As with most standard definition releases, it does have a certain amount of artifacting but it’s not overabundant. The colors looks about on par with what I remember seeing in the theater so, on that front, it looks just as it did upon the initial theatrical release.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
Given this is a comedy and not a whole lot of action happens, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is suitable if not a bit low key. A sizeable amount of the audio comes out of the center speaker while the front and rear channels provide some depth but it’s not very immersive.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, American Reunion is a great finale to a funny and heartfelt franchise. For a certain generation this cast and characters have meant so much and to find them back together is a great accomplishment by the producers and filmmakers. The movie itself has some memorable moments and thankfully doesn’t restrain itself to the timeline of the direct-to-video sequels.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman