‘American Reunion’

by Ryan Hill

(From left) Eugene Levy, Alyson Hannigan and Jason Biggs

Released in 1999, the original “American Pie,” about teenagers who make a pact to lose their virginity by prom, helped usher in the return of R-rated comedies to cinemas. The film was an amusing, honest look at teenagers, and showed the world the wonders of getting intimate with an apple pie. Now the gang is back for “American Reunion,” the fourth film, excluding the direct-to-DVD movies, in the series.

It’s been 13 years since the “American Pie” gang graduated from high school, and they’re all reconvening in East Great Falls for their 13-year reunion, because they couldn’t get their act together for a 10-year reunion. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are parents, Stifler (Sean William Scott) is a temp with a large company, Oz (Chris Klein) is a sportscaster and alum on a “Dancing with the Stars”-type show, Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has become a world traveler, Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy) is grieving the death of his wife and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) works from home, where he’s forced to watch shows like “Gossip Girl” with his wife.

After a bumpy start in which the film feels the need to catch up the audience on all the characters and make numerous callbacks to the previous three films, “Reunion” hits its stride once the latest generation of sex-obsessed teenagers arrive, giving the gang a chance to relive their glory days. Stifler, unsurprisingly, fits right in with the teens, from pooping in a cooler to espousing the greatness of Stephanie Meyer’s novel “New Moon” while hitting on a group of young girls. Immature as Stifler is, even he isn’t immune to the pitfalls of adulthood in “Reunion.” None of the characters are, which is the driving force behind the film.

Scott remains the liveliest and most entertaining character of the ensemble. He slips into the role so effortlessly at this point it’s a wonder he doesn’t get his own spin-off movie or television show featuring Stifler.

The biggest surprise in “Reunion” is the expanded role Jim’s dad is given. Relegated to the “wise sage” character in the first three films, Levy is finally allowed to put his comedic talents to proper use, especially when he’s around Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge). The pair, who have appeared together in Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind,” are finally given a chance to work their magic together in the “Pie” films, and the result is nothing short of hilarious.

With all of the “American Pie” entries released so far, a fourth cinematic entry may sound like a terrible idea. However, co-writers and directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, creators of the “Harold and Kumar” films, wisely go back to the original “Pie” for inspiration. Yes, there’s plenty of gross-out humor, but all the characters are trying to adjust to the adult phase of their life, much like in the original where they were coming to grips with the end of high school.

Anyone who was a fan of the original “Pie” will love “Reunion.” Hurwitz and Schlossberg have recaptured everything that was great (and terrible) about the first film, making “Reunion” the most faithful, and enjoyable, sequel in the entire series.

Grade: 3/4 stars

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