What can you do with a strained franchise, one that’s seen not only two theatrical sequels but also a slew of straight-to-DVD features? You do the only thing you can: drag it back one more time.
Being the fourth outing for the insanely successful and quotable movie phenomenon that kick-started in the ’90s,American Pie: Reunion sees the ol’ group coalesce for a high school reunion. Their lives have changed a depressingly great deal since those care-free days; kids, careers, and fame seem to have got in the way of most of Jim’s gang having fun – which is exactly why they plan to escape their lives briefly and get together once more.
American Pie: Reunion (known simply as American Reunion in other territories) is, firstly, not a feat of screenwriting. Nor is it a feat of camerawork, or acting – it’s exactly what all the other ones are, which is superfluous entertainment with the right amount of heart and a near one-per-minute laugh rate (which is a pretty healthy dose of laughter, if you were wondering). In that respect, it succeeds – for the most part. At times, the expositionary dialogue the characters spew is cheesy and really offputting, but the charm of these guys – Jim / Jism, Oz, Kevin, Finch, and of course, Stifler, all exude the same chemistry they always did, if it does feel a bit forced thanks, again, to the script. An example would be Oz’s almost exclamatory line, ‘I missed your wedding, I wasn’t gonna miss this!’ Yes, we know you weren’t in the last movie. The audience are not dumb, and do not take kindly to such spoonfeeding.
Nonetheless, the gags do indeed keep coming – some actually near classic American Pie standard (think naked Jim on his roof with his hand and nether regions glued together), but other set pieces fall slightly flat. And it doesn’t help when your actors are as tired as your franchise – only Jason Biggs, Sean William Scott and Eugene Levy don’t feel out of place, nine years on from the last proper installment in the series, American Wedding (2003). The others feel like they’re cashing in paychecks, of which are certain to be rather hefty given the movies’ box office. Thankfully, Sean William Scott doesn’t seem to have changed much since he first played the role he became famous for, and steals the scene at every given opportunity. In fact, every minute without the Stiffmeister on-screen feels plain wrong. We also get to say our final (‘final’ as in wait a few more years for another sequel) goodbyes to other smaller characters from the series, but just who makes an appearance won’t be disclosed here – the fun is in being surprised.
American Wedding tightly wrapped things up in 2003, giving an even balance to everything in four short years since the 1999 original; almost like peeling a plaster off quickly so it doesn’t hurt, the rapid succession of the original two sequels ended up working well to not prolong the immediacy of the series. After all, the cast wasn’t going to be young forever. And now they’re old(er), it kind of makes sense to revisit some beloved memories, especially as this is the mother of all teen movies. In three words: Unnecessary, but hilarious.