American Reunion [movie review]

In the summer of 1999 I had graduated from high school and was sleeping on my best friend’s mom’s pull out sofa. I spent my days working at my Dad’s store and my evenings with my friends. The original American Pie was about four friends who wanted to lose their virginity before the end of their senior year because that’s what high school boys think about. Some of them, anyway. But despite the shallowness of their goal, what we got to see was four boys learn about themselves, find love, and learn a bit about themselves. I think this is why the American Pie series has done so well. In spite of the repetitious sex jokes and masturbation interruptions (buy a door lock!), it is a film series with heart.

American Reunion is no different.

This story picks up a few years after American Wedding – Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) have a 2-year old, Oz (Chris Klein) is a sports broadcaster, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a stay at home husband and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is…somewhere. Coming back home means two thing: running into Stifler (Sean William Scott) and Jim’s Dad, played by the always underused Eugene Levy. Stifler, the man-child who never left high school, is working as a temp in a financial firm; while Jim’s Dad is a little unsure of what to do with himself since his wife died. (I’m not sure if this was done purely for story, if the actress couldn’t return, or if this was the best way to create an excuse for Levy to have scenes with Stifler’s Mom.)

The story finds them each preparing for their 13th High School Reunion, as they all missed the 10th, and taking stock of their lives. Since the first sequel, American Pie 2, the film’s main narrative rests on Jim and Michelle – a couple who can’t seem to make time for themselves in the way they used to. I love Alyson Hannigan’s work and have often thought that “Lily” on HIMYM could be Michelle’s relative considering their sexual proclivities, but I found her role here too small for what it should have been. Sadly, Michelle was mostly a mom trying to figure out a way to connect with her husband. In contrast, Jim spent most of the film hanging with his friends, when he wasn’t avoiding the girl next door who just turned 18. I get miscommunication comedy and find it funny when executed well, but the majority of the trouble for Jim could have been stopped if he’d just said “I’m married” at ANY POINT to the girl. Not doing so gave license to have the same hijinx they always have in these movies, but I digress.

Ultimately, this picture, like reunions, was an opportunity to see where everyone is in their lives. It’s not meant to be highly intellectual or start up new franchises, but provide closure on the past.  What’s the Sherminator been up to? Has anyone seen Jessica since AP1? Did Nadia ever find happiness after her two missed opportunities with Jim? American Reunion gives the audience to catch-up with the characters from their past, tie up some storylines, and say a proper goodbye to the characters that they’ve watched grow up.

For me, this picture inspired me to take stock of my life as they did with theirs. The boys are happy, lucky in love, and have each other. Me – I’m no longer sleeping on my best friend’s mom’s pull out sofa and married the most amazing woman. What more do you really need to know?

Three out of Five
Worth seeing in the theater, but aim for the discount screenings. Be sure to take someone with you that saw the original in ’99. It’ll take you back.

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