What I appreciate about the American Pie films is that, beneath the raunchiness and juvenile slapstick humour, there rests a kernel of truth. American Reunion continues in that tradition. Although it utilizes the kind of crude sexual humour that I don’t find particularly funny, there is evident a compelling examination of friendship, love, and the general ups and downs of relationships at an adult life stage. In this case, that would be thirteen years after graduating high school; this is the point in time at which we find Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs), Kevin Myers (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Chris “Oz” Ostreicher (Chris Klein), Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott). Now around thirty, they each have their own lives and have had their fair share of success and failure.
Jim and his wife, Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), now have a two-year-old son named Evan, which is in large part why they have fallen into a sexual rut. Kevin is now a work-from-home architect and is happily married to a woman named Ellie (Charlene Amoia). After moving to Los Angeles and competing in a celebrity dance show (which he’s now deeply embarrassed by), Oz has become an NFL sports announcer. He lives with his girlfriend, a supermodel and wild party girl named Mia (Katrina Bowden). Stifler, still an obnoxious and vulgar sex maniac, now works as a temp at an investment firm, where he undergoes daily abuse from his boss (Vik Sahay). Finch, after a period in which he went missing, suddenly returns on a motorcycle. He has not yet found the love of his life, but according to what he tells his friends, he has extensively travelled the world.
The entire gang comes back together when it’s announced that a thirteen-year high school reunion would take place in their home town. Jim reunites with his father (Eugene Levy), who’s eager to get back into the dating scene following the death of his wife three years earlier. Oz reunites with his former high school sweetheart, Heather (Mena Suvari), who’s now dating a cardiologist named Ron (Jay Harrington). It immediately becomes apparent that Oz has more in common with Heather – and likewise, Ron with Mia. Kevin reunites with his old flame, Vicky (Tara Reid), and it seems that old feelings begin to resurface. Finch finds himself attracted to Michelle’s former band mate, a bartender named Selena (Dania Ramirez), who since her homely high school days has blossomed into a beautiful woman. For obvious reasons, the guys decide not to invite Stifler. But you know how it is with twists of fate; he just happens to see them hanging out at a bar, everyone has a few shots, and the next thing you know, he’s tagging along.
Jim, who still has an eye for hot teenage girls, is unwittingly reintroduced to Kara (Ali Corbin), the girl he used to babysit. Now on the verge of turning eighteen, she’s certainly easy on the eyes. Initially, she flirts with him coyly. But on the night of her birthday, she gets drunk out of her mind; this paves the way for a series of comedic misadventures that make Jim look a lot guiltier than he actually is. Kara’s jealous and immature boyfriend, A.J. (Chuck Hittinger), will have a few well-placed antagonistic run-ins with Jim and his friends. It culminates with a party at the home of Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge), where just about everything goes wrong. Surprisingly, it goes well for Jim’s dad, who reluctantly joins in. After getting certifiably drunk, he meets Stifler’s mom and has … well, let’s just say that he has a lot of fun. The two have a lot in common, not the least of which is having walked in on their children during a sexual encounter.
While I generally don’t laugh at something as juvenile as defecating into a cooler filled with beer bottles, or hurriedly slamming down a laptop onto an erection, causing it to bleed, it’s obvious to me that underneath is a story that has something to say about people. There’s a moment, for example, when the guys observe the adolescent antics of the high schoolers partying at a lake; Kevin wonders aloud if they were ever as annoying back when they were in high school, and Finch responds that their generation was more mature. Naturally, Stifler is the exception. Indeed, there was a time when we would look at him and think he wouldn’t grow up. Now that he has entered his thirties, it’s looking more and more like he truly can’t grow up. You know what the difference is.
Everything ends pretty much as we expect it to end, which in this case isn’t a criticism so much as a simple observation. Sometimes, it’s nice when a screenplay is formatted like a sitcom, even if it happens to be a really, really raunchy one. For me, the appeal of American Reunion has less to do with vulgar lines and sight gags and more to do with character development and theme. The first three films were fairly narrow in scope, their plots built on foundations as solid yet limited as losing your virginity, finding that special someone, and making a commitment to marriage. This new film is much broader, addressing the very relatable notion of settling down and living the rest of your life. The message, it seems, is that you can get through anything so long as you have friends at your side.
Written by Chris Pandolfi