Movie Review: American Reunion- A Dull Delivery of Expected Humor That is Lacking in Intriguing Story and Underutilizes Key Characters

No matter how much a guilty pleasure the original American Pie might be there is still an uncomfortable and undeniable reality linked to the change in comedy for a generation after its inception. There is a pre-American Pie world and a post-American Pie world and the unfortunate outcome of the latter was seeing the sophistication of comedy take a downward spiral and what was left behind was obnoxious, immature, and gross out comedy that could be written by a high school dropout. So there is no need to celebrate an oddly timed reunion of the original cast (at least self-referenced as a 13 year reunion) when all we should have for them is scorn. The American Pie franchise does not just include the 4 part installment of Jim’s (Jason Biggs) sexual awkwardness but it also includes a straight to DVD cornucopia of ridiculously formulaic movies about odd siblings and their loosely linked plotlines. Granted the main four films, including the newest yet boring and unfunny fourth installment, are better than their straight to DVD counterparts but not by much. This desperate comedy that tries to grasp onto that last remaining bit of 90s nostalgia is too recycled to be interesting, too expected to be shocking (unlike the original two), and above all too slow paced to be funny. American Reunion is an unpleasant reminder of how unnecessary a third movie was and also shows us scene by scene why most of these actors haven’t found regular work since their heyday. With very few instances of laughs in addition to not utilizing the best of their cast (Alyson Hannigan, Eugene Levy), American Reunion is one that is best skipped.

As American Reunion opens up it sets the tone for the rest of the film, which is recycled bits trying to appear original. The whole film with its Chumbawumba references and tiresome soundtrack is an attempt to live back in the 90s just as each and every one of the characters in the film. While that will strike people as an appropriate measure the failure is all in the delivery rather than the concept. The constantly awkward situations of Jim, the obnoxious antics of Stifler (Seann William Scott), and the contrite love stories on the sideline involving the rest of the characters all seem forced and repetitive. It’s not like the writers or directors (yes, there are two of each) should have been expected to write or deliver original material considering these are the same two who wrote Harold and Kumar Go to Guantanamo Bay (they didn’t even write the guiltily hilarious original). Instead of American Reunion being a breath of fresh air that the first was for its time it just comes off as every other comedy released in the last 10 years. Everyone makes mistakes or has those mornings where you wake up in regret but subjecting yourself to American Reunion after you had seen American Wedding is simply an act of desperate neglect. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on you again.

If you were wondering where most of these actors have been these last few years it becomes clear how limited their talent and on screen personas actually are. Did anyone think that Chris Klein was still alive? Considering that he turned down an appearance in American Wedding and that he clearly gets no work he simply couldn’t afford not to whore himself out this time round. After the success of the three American Pie movies Jason Biggs had the luxury of starring in one of Woody Allen’s more unfortunate pieces of cinematic garbage entitled Anything Else and ever since then he hasn’t had much star power on the big screen and for good reason. The only place you see Tara Reid anymore is in tabloids and practically everyone else in the unmentionables hasn’t soiled a screen unless it was in a straight to DVD snore fest. The three big names, including Alyson Hannigan, Eugene Levy, and Seann William Scott, are the real talents involved in the latest installment and yet two thirds of them are underutilized. Seann William Scott isn’t necessarily an A-list comedian, but when directed in the right way he can certainly be entertaining such as in David Wain’s Role Models. He is the one the guides the humor in American Reunion but in a very limited capacity. Perhaps it was Alyson Hannigan’s regular schedule for “How I Met Your Mother,” but her personality was barely written in the script and as a result the film falters.  And while Eugene Levy gets some good screen time there is little doubt that his talents as a comedic, improvisational master weren’t put to the best of use except to awkwardly give sex advice.

What more can really be said on the lack of entertainment filling the latest and unnecessary installment of the American Pie series? If you go in expecting exactly what you had seen in the first three in the series than you won’t really be too disappointed but the noticeable difference is how strained the comedic delivery comes off. All of the actors, the good ones and the bad ones, all phone it in for an easy paycheck because there is nothing challenging about the writing or the direction of the film. The first American Pie started us off on a path for comedy that sought out very little intellectual grounding and the movies that followed also sought out not to even include involving characters. The result is the latest, and hopefully last, American Pie film that plays off assumed feelings, cliché marital scenarios, and even more expected gross out humor that actually becomes quite tame due to the fact that you can guess the scenarios before they even happen. Will this signify the end to such comedy writing? It’s highly doubtful but there is only so much drivel movie audiences can take before they start demanding more highbrow humor from their comedies.

Grade: C-

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