You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

American Reunion

While it's poignant seeing the whole gang again, the tired gross-out antics and limp romantic reprisals keep this hapless if heartfelt effort from qualifying as a decent comedy, let alone a generational classic.

Jim Levenstein Jason Biggs Michelle - Alyson Hannigan Oz - Chris Klein Kevin - Thomas Ian Nicholas Vicky - Tara Reid Steve Stifler - Seann William Scott Heather - Mena Suvari Finch - Eddie Kaye Thomas Stifler's Mom - Jennifer Coolidge Jim's Dad - Eugene Levy

Nearly every scene in “American Reunion” is slathered in something warm and gooey — namely, nostalgia. Thirteen years out of high school, the “Pie” guys are hitting their 30s in a mellower, more reflective mood, with plenty of downtime between horny hijinks to remember the good ol’ days. But while it’s poignant seeing the whole gang again, the tired gross-out antics and limp romantic reprisals keep this hapless if heartfelt effort from qualifying as a decent comedy, let alone a generational classic. Sans big laughs or even mild outrage, the pic has sentimental value but won’t score as aggressively as its predecessors.

Having tied the knot in 2003’s “American Wedding,” Jim and Michelle Levenstein (Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan) now have a toddler son and a reasonably stable life together. But their sex life has fallen into a rut, as seen in a prologue that begins with one of the franchise’s signature self-gratification gags and unexpectedly morphs into a ruefully honest look at marital frustration. It’s a promising start for a movie that, as written and directed by series newcomers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, means to examine its characters’ various stages of discontent as they head home for their high-school reunion.

Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), sporting a hipster goatee, is happily wed, but finds his thoughts drifting on occasion to his ex, Vicky (Tara Reid). Chris Ostreicher, aka Oz (Chris Klein), is a TV personality with a wildly sexy g.f. (Katrina Bowden), but he’s starting to realize the downsides of fame and fortune. Cultured, adventurous Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) shows up on a badass motorcycle with tales of crazy bohemian travels abroad. Last and never least, Stifler (Seann William Scott) is stuck in a lowly temp job, though a suit and tie haven’t curbed his juvenile horndog tendencies one bit.

And so old friends are reunited, familiar stomping grounds revisited and past relationships promisingly rekindled, particularly in the case of Oz and high-school sweetheart Heather (Mena Suvari). Along the way, the guys keep running into teenagers who seem far more immature and sexually voracious than they did at that age, or so they’d like to think. At times, the pic evokes the sense of social disorientation that arises when tail-end Gen Xers realize Gen Y has passed them by: In an era when kids think nothing of swapping nude self-portraits online, that naughty video encounter between Jim and Czech exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) in “American Pie,” mentioned several times here, seems almost quaint by comparison.

Given that the 1999 original worked as a crude-but-endearing corrective to the likes of “Porky’s,” the gently bittersweet tone suffusing this labor-of-love project (Biggs and Scott exec produced) is neither inappropriate nor unwelcome. There are modest delights to be had in “American Reunion,” not least the sight of these still-winning but no longer fresh-faced actors, many of whom have been absent from the bigscreen for lengthy stretches, gamely returning for duty. From moment to moment, it’s easy enough to tune out the forgettable plot turns and simply groove on the soundtrack’s numerous ’90s soft-rock touchstones, like the Verve Pipe’s “The Freshmen” and Supersonic’s “Closing Time,” which prove immediately transporting.

But these are glancing, incidental pleasures, and they’re almost completely divorced from a repetitive, overworked screenplay that proves rather less mature and evolved than its characters. With the singular exception of Stifler, these blandly likable guys are thinking adults who have long since realized life isn’t a teen sex comedy, something the pic itself sometimes acknowledges when it’s not piling on gags involving public defecation and fetish gear.

As always, the perpetually horny but dependably virtuous Jim must be subjected to all manner of strained humiliations, this time involving a nubile girl-next-door (Ali Cobrin) he used to babysit. In accordance with recent lowbrow-comedy trends, Biggs, after years of consistently dropping his drawers, goes fearlessly full-frontal in a scene that will likely provide a major selling point. On a duller note, the relational complications between Kevin and Vicky, Oz and Heather, and Finch and band-nerd-turned-hottie Selena (Dania Ramirez) play out at snooze-inducing length during the reunion-night climax.

Indeed, at 112 minutes, “Reunion” is easily the series’ longest entry, largely because it feels the need to cross-reference and embellish anything even remotely memorable from the prior three films. Scenes with Eugene Levy as Jim’s lovably squirm-inducing dad or Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler’s randy mom represent time well spent; a shot of some guys repeatedly screaming “MILF!” on a football field, not so much.

Helmers Hurwitz and Schlossberg don’t impose much personal stamp on the proceedings apart from making a few “Harold & Kumar” in-jokes, mainly by giving John Cho a few more lines and reaction shots this time around. Despite the pic’s “Save the best piece for last” tagline, the ending does not dismiss the possibility of future sequels.

Popular on Variety

American Reunion

Production: A Universal release presented in association with Relativity Media of a Practical Pictures/Zide Pictures production. Produced by Craig Perry, Warren Zide, Chris Moore, Adam Herz. Executive producers, Louis G. Friedman, Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz, Seann William Scott, Jason Biggs. Directed, written by Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, based on characters created by Adam Herz.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Daryn Okada; editor, Jeff Betancourt; music, Lyle Workman; music supervisor, Jojo Villanueva; production designer, William Arnold; art director, Elliott Glick; set designer, Danny Brown; set decorator, David Smith; costume designer, Mona May; sound (Datasat/SDDS/Dolby Digital), Whit Norris; supervising sound editor, Dave McMoyler; re-recording mixers, Kevin O'Connell, Beau Borders; special effects coordinator, Bob Shelley; visual effects supervisor, Dottie Starling; visual effects, Wildfire Visual Effects; stunt coordinator, Tom McComas; assistant director, Stephen X. Apicella; casting, Jay Scully. Reviewed at Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, April 2, 2012. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 112 MIN.

With: Jim Levenstein Jason Biggs Michelle - Alyson Hannigan Oz - Chris Klein Kevin - Thomas Ian Nicholas Vicky - Tara Reid Steve Stifler - Seann William Scott Heather - Mena Suvari Finch - Eddie Kaye Thomas Stifler's Mom - Jennifer Coolidge Jim's Dad - Eugene LevyWith: John Cho, Natasha Lyonne, Dania Ramirez, Katrina Bowden, Jay Harrington, Ali Cobrin, Chuck Hittinger, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Owen.

More Film

  • David Goodman

    WGA West's David Goodman on Agency Strategy: 'We'll Start Meeting as Soon as Possible'

    David Goodman, who was resoundingly re-elected president of the Writers Guild of America West on Monday, said the guild plans to meet with several talent agencies soon in an effort to ease the impasse over packaging fees and affiliated production. “Many agencies had indicated that they wanted to wait to see the results of the [...]

  • Australian Outback

    Legend Media Seeks Trio of West Australia-China Co-Productions (EXCLUSIVE)

    Perth, Australia-based production company Legend Media is preparing a slate of three feature films to be produced with partners in China. The company styles itself as one that recognizes the opportunities for Asian engagement that have fallen to Australia, through geography, trade and culture. The company aims to make use of the bilateral film co-production [...]

  • David Goodman

    David Goodman Re-Elected President of Writers Guild of America West

    David Goodman has been convincingly re-elected to a two-year term as president of the Writers Guild of America West, beating Phyllis Nagy in a bitter contest that became a referendum on the guild’s ongoing battle with talent agents. Goodman received 4,395 votes to Nagy’s 1,282 in an election that yielded record turnout among the WGA [...]

  • Issa Rae Portrait

    Issa Rae Developing Re-Imagining of Crime Thriller 'Set It Off'

    “Insecure” star and co-creator Issa Rae is in early development on a re-imagining of New Line’s crime thriller “Set If Off,” which starred Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica Fox and Kimberly Elise. Rae will produce with plans to star in the project. Syreeta Singleton and Nina Gloster have been hired to pen the script. [...]

  • Thomas Golubic8th Annual Guild of Music

    Guild of Music Supervisors President: 'The Economics of the Job Don't Work Anymore'

    The Guild of Music Supervisors (GMS) hosted its 5th annual “State of Music in Media” conference on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Los Angeles Film School. Featuring a wide array of panel discussions on all manner of issues related to music in film, television and advertising, the confab drew top composers, music supervisors, licensing and [...]

  • Gay Chorus Deep South

    Film News Roundup: Documentary 'Gay Chorus Deep South' Bought for Awards Season Release

    In today’s film news roundup, the documentaries “Gay Chorus Deep South” and “Tread” find homes, Tobin Bell’s latest horror film completes production and Emilio Insolera joins “355.” ACQUISITIONS MTV Documentary Films has acquired “Gay Chorus Deep South” for release during the fall for awards season consideration. Directed by David Charles Rodrigues, the film world premiered [...]

  • Bad Education

    What 'Bad Education' Taught Us About the Slow Toronto Film Festival Market

    “Bad Education,” a dramedy starring Hugh Jackman as the embezzling superintendent of district of schools in Long Island, N.Y., was set to be this year’s “I, Tonya.” The movie has the same biting tone, shifting between comedy and tragedy. It received strong reviews out of the Toronto Film Festival. And like “I, Tonya,” it even [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content