What happens at every reunion? We reminisce, we remember good times, but inevitably everyone in attendance realizes that all have moved on with their lives. American Reunion, while it passes as an okay send-off to the now evidently thirty-somethings-playing-twenty-somethings that we first met as horny teenagers, proves that sometimes getting the band back together does not produce the same results fourth time around.
Jim (Jason Bates) is now married and has a two-year-old son. Oz (Kevin Kline) returns to the series having sat out American Wedding and is now a sportscaster. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is now an at-home architect. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has gone missing so it seems, and everyone’s favorite douchebag Stifler (Seann William Scott) brings the male half of the main cast full circle as he is now a temp at an investment firm. The High School reunion is announced and they are all invited. Everyone returns for this film, much like a real reunion, even John Cho.
Now older, but no more wiser, the gang returns to East Great Falls, and begins to deal with what they left behind. Oz meets up with Heather (Mena Suvari) and we get to finally see what happens between the two, with Mena Survari’s other commitments – briefly flirting with the big-time, post-American Beauty – having cut their storyline off at the knees.
Other characters go through their typical arcs, but nothing seems to be different and the overall sense is one of treading water without any real intent. The producers could get this cast back together ten years after the fact under the guise of ‘reunion’ so they did. But that’s about as imaginative as it gets. Jim deals with a reverse-babysitter fantasy when the child he used to watch after is now grown up and wants him. Even that seems a bit far-fetched as the original film made no reference to the fact that he did anything of the sort.
No-one has really changed; even the “nicer” Stifler seems predictable, though still funny. There are times when Stifler just does what he is expected to do. Sure we laugh but aren't those actions getting a little boring after four films? A lot of the returning cast really does not add much to the story either. Can we say contractual obligation? The only real shock was that Jim’s Dad, played by Eugene Levy, was dealing with what seemed like actual tragedy.
It’s hard to blame the cast though, by this time their characters are so established that they have little room to innovate. Like any sequel, you live or die based on the strength of your script and the writing is a big reason as to why this film just did not hit its mark. Though written by the same bunch that did the well-received Harold & Kumar series (Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg), the film just felt like things were being played a little too safe.
When you make a sequel you expect something to happen that makes it stand out; it needs to be bigger, bolder, more expansive, or else why bother? Both American Pie and American Pie 2 dealt with themes of coming-of-age, and then yearning once more for innocence, respectively. In this film, there is nothing that profound to catch the group, or even our generation, off-guard and force them to ponder. The zeitgeist is sorely lacking.
Yes, it was raunchy. Yes, it had some of the things that made it so great ten years ago, but there was nothing that the gross-but-sweetly-sincere comedies that came in Pie’s wake haven’t since, and done better. For a writing/directing tandem like this, it really misses a little outside the box thinking, doing something with the characters that we, as fans, would be interested in seeing.
It is a funny film but there is nothing that makes it particularly memorable. It just looks and is played like a film made by a studio trying to skate simply by evoking memories of the original. To be honest, there are fanfiction.net scripts that do more interesting things with this cast. After this film, like a real reunion, everyone in attendance will go on to find something better to do, having shown up with the vague expectation of sex, and then left tipsy and ever so slightly disillusioned.