In many ways, American Reunion mirrors an actual high school reunion: You go in with high hopes that everyone’s lives will be awesome, but ultimately either you don’t actually care about these people, or thanks to Facebook you already know the important details and have nothing to talk about. And even though I’ll always have a fondness for Jim and the gang, by the fourth (official) film in the American Pie franchise, their sexual and scatalogical antics just seem tired and lame.
Believe it or not, I kind of looked up to the characters in American Pie when I was in high school. Well, I didn’t start high school until 2004, which is probably when I started looking up clips of the movie that had been deemed far too racy for me when it came out in 1999 and I was 11. I’ve actually never seen the entire movie, though I know enough from Wikipedia and YouTube to conclude that it was racy and daring for a teen movie at the end of the 20th century. Dare I say, my high school self even thought it was sexy.
But now that I’ve seen American Reunion (out tomorrow), I feel strangely unfulfilled. The characters that seemed so sexually precocious have outgrown their youthful invincibility and now come across as strained and old. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are happily married but have a nonexistent sex life after the birth of their adorable two-year-old. Oz (Chris Klein) is a news anchor on an ESPN-like channel but is living out a fake Hollywood life complete with a model girlfriend (30 Rock‘s Katrina Bowden) and a stint on a Dancing with the Stars-esque reality show.
Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a house husband with an adoring wife, but he’s tempted when he spots his old flame Vicky (Tara Reid). Only Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) seems to have done anything of note, but that’s at the cost of not seeing his former best buds. At least Stifler (Sean William Scott) got his comeuppance: Instead of making something of himself, he’s a temp at a large firm, the office bitch despite his bravado.
The guys reunite in East Great Falls for a much-needed male bonding weekend, but of course it’s complicated by Jim’s nubile young neighbor Kara, several “it’s not what it looks like!” misunderstandings, and Stifler’s sabotage. Even though the characters are psyched to relive their glory years at their 13th reunion — because their class couldn’t even get its act together to meet up again within a decade — the audience will feel more alienated than anything else.
Jim humping an apple pie to approximate the feeling of sex induced gasps and shocked laughter from its first audiences in 1999, not to mention establishing an enduring symbol of lost innocence for the following movies. But thirteen years later, his antics — sexual and slapstick — feel so tired. Biggs thought we’d get some sort of dramatic catharsis from finally seeing Jim’s penis, after all the abuse it’s suffered over the years, but when that full-frontal moment finally comes it’s not funny-awkward, it’s “how is it you’re a 30-year-old guy naked in your kitchen?” awkward.