For some people, American Reunion will be the 8th in the American Pie series, but for most of us it’s only the fourth.
I must admit I’ve never seen the straight-to-DVD efforts like Beta House, Band Camp and The Book of Love, and I also struggle to see how Eugene Levy manages to find his way into all of them in anything other than an incongruous manner. I guess though that unless I watch almost everything else there is to watch in the world and just want a bit of variety, the chances are I’ll never know. They all have a reputation for being crap (hence the straight-to-DVD aspect), include none of the ‘regular’ characters other than Levy and have imdb ratings of between 4.6 and 5.1. So it’s a no from me.
But I am a fan of the cinematic releases – well, the first two anyway – and so I was looking forward to seeing this one.
What’s This Film About?
The kids from the first three American Pie films are now all in their early 30s (although some – like Tara Reid and Chris Klein – manage to look far older) and have returned to their town for their class’s 13th Anniversary High School
The first scene of this film – where Jim tries to have a wank while his wife is in the bath and ends up shutting his penis inside a laptop because his young son catches him – had me worried. It was unfunny, crude humour of the lowest rent variety. Yes, American Pie as a series is barely sophisticated, but having gone back and watched the first one there was a little bit more setup work for the crude stuff rather than it just being so blunt.
So as I say, I was worried I’d made a terrible mistake in coming to this film and that it was maybe something that should have been consigned to history. We’ve all grown up since it came out so maybe they should too, right?
Well in fairness to it, it improved from there. Yes, there are a few more crude bits – almost exclusively involving Stiffler – but it was more about the relationships between the characters who had all moved on with their lives since their last meeting, and how despite that, the relationships they formed at school were important.
And that’s OK, but I think that by doing so it’s a film that can only work from a nostalgic point of view. I think if you took someone who had never seen any of the first three films to it they’d think it was terrible. For viewers like me, it works because I know the characters, and having left school at roughly the same time, can identify with the stage of life they find themselves at.
And nostalgia can be a good thing in small doses. Certainly the best two parts of the film – by a distance – were the cameos from The Sherminator and The MILF Guys, the latter of which had me literally in tears of laughter.
As an aside, isn’t it incredible that the term MILF – something used so widely today – originates from a throwaway scene in the original film?
But getting back to it, even with the nostalgia there were still bits that made you groan. I can understand Jim finding himself in embarrassing situations as a 17/18-year-old boy; but to find himself in equally embarrassing situations at the each of 32 is stupid. Why would he dress up in that latex outfit at someone else’s house? Why would he not just firmly tell the 18-year-old girl who has an inexplicable crush on him that he’s married and is not interested? And why did they think it necessary for us to see his genitalia?
On a related note, why would Jim and Michelle be looking to spend ‘quality time together’ at an event specifically designed to meet up with old friends? Could they not spend quality time together at home?
I could sit here and pick flaws in American Reunion all day, but I won’t. It is what it is – a nostalgia fuelled nod to a film that people my age find iconic.
Some say that at 113 minutes in length it’s too long, but I didn’t really think so. It managed to flow well and maintain my interest throughout, and that’s a good thing.
There were some unfunny moments, some ridiculous ones and the occasional bit of brilliance. If you liked the first two or three films, then get yourself a ticket and go along to see it.
But if you’ve never seen any of them, don’t bother.