Magazine article Variety

American Reunion

Magazine article Variety

American Reunion

Article excerpt

American Reunion

Nearly every ecene in "American Reunion" is slathered in something warm and gooey - namely, nostalgia. Thirteen years out of high school, the "Pie" guys are hitting their 30s in a mellower, more reflective mood, with plenty of downtime between horny hijinks to remember the good ?G days. But while it's poignant seeing the whole gang again, the tired gross-out antics and limp romantic reprisals keep this hapless if heartfelt effort from qualifying as a decent comedy, let alone a generational classic. Sans big laughs or even mild outrage, the pic has sentimental value but won't score as aggressively as its predecessors.

Having tied the knot in 2003's "American Wedding," Jim and Michelle Levenstein (Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan) now have a toddler son and a reasonably stable life together. But their sex life has fallen into a rut, as seen in a prologue that begins with one of the franchise's signature self-gratification gags and unexpectedly morphs into a ruefully honest look at marital frustration. It's a promising start for a movie that, as written and directed by series newcomers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, means to examine its characters' various stages of discontent as they head home for their high-school reunion.

Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), sporting a hipster goatee, is happily wed, but finds his thoughts drifting on occasion to his ex, Vicky (Tara Reid). Chris Ostreicher, aka Oz (Chris Klein), is a TV personality with a wildly sexy g.f. (Katrina Bowden), but he's starting to realize the downsides of fame and fortune. Cultured, adventurous Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) shows up on a badass motorcycle with tales of crazy bohemian travels abroad. Last and never least, Stifler (Seann William Scott) is stuck in a lowly temp job, though a suit and tie haven't curbed his juvenile horndog tendencies one bit.

And so old friends are reunited, familiar stomping grounds and past relationships promisingly rekindled, particularly in the case of Oz and high-school sweetheart Heather (Mena Suvari). Along the way, the guys keep running into teenagers who seem far more immature and sexually voracious than they did at that age, or so they'd like to think. At times, the pic evokes the sense of social disorientation that arises when tail-end Gen Xers realize Gen Y has passed them by: In an era when kids think nothing of swapping nude selfportraits online, that naughty video encounter between Jim and Czech exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) in "American Pie," mentioned several times here, seems almost quaint by comparison.

Given that the 1999 original worked as a crude-but-endearing corrective to the likes of "Porky 's," the gently bittersweet tone suffusing this labor-of-love project (Biggs and Scott exec produced) is neither inappropriate nor unwelcome. There are modest delights to be had in "American Reunion," not least the sight of these still-winning but no longer fresh-faced actors, many of whom have been absent from the bigscreen for lengthy stretches, gamely returning for duty. From moment to moment, it's easy enough to tune out the forgettable plot turns and simply groove on the soundtrack's numerous '90s soft-rock touchstones, like the Verve Pipe's "The Freshmen" and Supersonica "Closing Time," which prove immediately transporting.

But these are glancing, incidental pleasures, and they're almost completely divorced from a repetitive, overworked screenplay that proves rather less mature and evolved than its characters. …

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