Film Review: American Reunion

The newest installment of the American Pie franchise reunites some of the original players and adopts a more mature view of the situations in which the characters find themselves.  American Reunion runs a risk by avoiding some of what could turn into the raunchiest of scenes, yet still including plenty of penis and poop jokes and a good amount of topless teens.

As those familiar might have guessed, the film opens with a scene driven by someone walking in on someone else in a compromising position, but plays slightly on this theme.  Interestingly, this motif operates as a fulcrum for many of the interactions henceforth.  Whether compromising or not, characters happening upon each other by chance functions as the dominant force in advancing the story, which actually reflects the idea of a reunion nicely, though the question of intent lingers.  This opening scene sets up the film’s central problem: Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle’s (Alyson Hannigan) struggling sex life – not the most teenage of problems.

In fact, Oz (Chris Klein) and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) are also coping with domestic strife, and Stiffler (Sean William Scott) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) can’t adjust to the standard adult workday.  These conflicts are a far cry from worrying about getting laid or being embarrassed by incriminating YouTube videos.  As Jim’s neighbor Kara relentlessly attempts to seduce him, he staunchly rejects her advances, unwavering in his devotion to his wife, despite their difficulties.

In a similar, but converse situation, Oz spends his time realizing his dissatisfaction for his promiscuous and racy girlfriend Mia (Katrina Bowden) and discovering his lingering love for first love Heather? (Mena Suvari).  Despite his desire to reunite with her, he frowns and dismisses an offer from her doctor boyfriend to swap partners.  Hey, maybe the movie isn’t as predictable as everyone expected.  Jim’s dad must confront his own life stage dilemma as he reels from the death of Jim’s mother.  Many will likely dismiss these adult (literally, not euphemistically) situations as stale or boring, but in reality, our high school selves must eventually face the dreaded, proverbial “real world.”

In its humor, American Reunion exploits the structures and jokes of previous films, constantly referencing dynamics set up in earlier installments, but not to the extent that it alienates newcomers.  Some of the laughs are cheap, and yes, the audience gets a shot of full frontal male nudity, but more so than ever before, laughs materialize in scenes more innocent and sincere.  Too, these scenes possess the ability, though somewhat superficially, to engage the audience’s heart.

American Reunion may not please those seeking illicit sexuality and can’t reach those who will avoid the film regardless.  It may leave both our sexual and emotional selves wanting, but at least it’s not stuck in high school.  And the maturity, however shallow, comes across as refreshing.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.
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