Back in 1999, I was invited to attend the press screening of a new movie called "American Pie" and to also interview the cast. Frankly, my anticipation level for the film was on the low side. It looked like cheap, raunchy sex comedy with not a lot going for it. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it WAS a raunchy sex comedy, but the movie also had a lot of heart and some wonderful performances. And of course, it featured that memorable catch-phrase, "One time, at band camp ..." The film was very funny and proved to be an unexpected major hit at the box office.
Not surprisingly, a number of sequels followed, with varying degrees of quality and increasingly dwindling returnees from the original cast. The last few releases bypassed theaters completely and went straight to video. It looked like it was game-over for the franchise.
But now here comes, "American Reunion," which not only is getting a big theatrical release, but also reunites pretty much everyone from the original movie.
The main focus is on the guys: There's Jim (Jason Biggs) who is now an exhausted new dad with a sexually-frustrated wife. (Alyson Hannigan returning as Michelle.) Oz (Chris Klein) who has become a successful sportscaster with a high-maintenance girlfriend. There's the always-cosmopolitan Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) who brags about his globe-trotting adventures, while Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) seems happily married and eager to get everyone to attend their high school reunion. Rounding this group out is the ever obnoxious Stifler (Seann William Scott) who now works in a big office as a temp for a belittling boss.
They descend on their hometown of East Great Falls and naturally chaos follows. Jim runs into the next-door neighbor girl (Ali Corbin) that he used to babysit. She's about to turn 18 and confesses she's always had a crush on him. Could this possibly lead to compromising positions? You bet. Corbin, by the way, didn't seem to have any problem with the "frontal nudity required" clause in the casting notice for the part. The guys must also deal with punk teenagers, old flames and consuming too much alcohol.
"American Reunion" was written and directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg who did all the "Harold and Kumar" movies. They are big fans of "American Pie" and although a few of the bits feel like we've seen them before, they do a nice job with this film. There's a good mix of the expected gross out humor, as well as some more touching moments.
Most notable is the always hilarious Eugene Levy who returns as Jim's dad. He's now a widower and he and Biggs have some nice scenes together. Chris Klein and Mena Suvari provided some of the more romantic moments in the original film, and they do the same here. Klein is hilarious in a sequence dealing with his past appearance on a "Dancing With the Stars"-like TV show.
Seann William Scott is once again entertaining as Stifler, whose character has a momentous last few minutes in the movie.
Although this film is being billed as a reunion, some of the characters do have a lot more to do than others. Stifler's mom (Jennifer Coolidge) is more front and center this time out, while the appearances of Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) and Jessica (Natasha Lyonne) are just cameos. Tara Reid does pop up in a few scenes as Kevin's old girlfriend but has little to do and little impact on the story.
"American Reunion" is much like attending your own high school reunion: Some of the stories are a little old and the people have changed a bit, but there's also some new memories to be made, and it's fun to see old friends.