In order to breathe new life into the American Pie franchise, the studio asked Harold & Kumar creators Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg if they wanted to take a crack at writing and directing a feature about the circle of friends going to a class reunion. It turned out that the duo had grown up with the series and reveled in the opportunity to revive Jim, Stifler, Finch, Kevin, and the rest of the gang. The phrase “rest of the gang” isn’t used lightly. For their American Reunion, the pair bring back seemingly every single character from the first movie -- even Nadia and Sherman get a scene -- and make sure that each of them gets at least one bit of business or laugh. All of these callbacks make American Reunion a joy for those who really have lived with that first film in their hearts for over a decade.
Thirteen years after graduating, Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are married with a child, and the toll of everyday domestic life has sapped away the erotic elements of their relationship -- a point driven home in the very funny opening scene, a comedic set piece about sexual frustration that promises more than the movie eventually delivers.
Jim and Michelle soon head back home for a high-school reunion, where they meet up with Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), a devoted househusband who finds himself succumbing to feelings for his old girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid); Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), who has spent the last decade traveling the globe like the twentysomething version of the Dos Equis pitchman; Oz (Chris Klein), a successful television sports reporter who is married to a shallow hottie; and Stifler (Seann William Scott), who works as an office temp and has to take a voluminous amount of crap from a boss just as sarcastic, obnoxious, and offensive as he is. Over the next few days, a lot of people see Jim naked, Oz realizes he’s still in love with Heather (Mena Suvari), Stifler gets revenge on some sarcastic high schoolers by dropping a deuce in their beer-filled cooler, and Jim’s widower dad finds a surprising but age-appropriate partner for his first time back out on the dating scene.
Nothing unexpected or surprising happens in the movie, but there are some good laughs, especially when Jim’s dad crashes an epic house party thrown by Stifler. The comfortable familiarity of the characters will be welcomed by those who just want to spend more time with these people, but the problem with American Reunion is that while American Pie balanced heart and raunch in unexpected ways in 1999, comedy has evolved since then. Judd Apatow and his many collaborators have come close to perfecting how to draw characters that we emotionally identify with while still reveling in a barrage of vulgar dialogue and outrageous situations. This 31-year-old married guy not getting any just doesn’t have the complexity or the richness of The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
American Reunion ends up capturing what it feels like to go to an actual high-school reunion. If you loved those days, odds are good you’ll have a fine time, but you will quickly realize things aren’t the way they used to be.