American Reunion (2012)
Way to go, guys. Way to ruin a good thing.
American Reunion picks up a good few years after we last caught up with the gang from East Great Falls. Jim and Michelle are parents and their sex life is non-existent; Oz is a big-time sportscaster with a party animal girlfriend; Kevin is happily married, albeit totally whipped; Finch has been traveling the globe; and Stifler’s still Stifler. They’ve all gone their separate ways, that is until they head back to where it all began for their ten-year reunion. What starts out as a weekend for the ages turns into a weekend they’d rather forget as relationships are put to the test and old feelings rise to the surface.
Up until now, my American Pie memories have been pretty fond. I was in seventh grade when the first movie came out and brought my already-awkward fear of girls to a height of near-paralysis. Didn’t even see it until I reached high school, but the chatter at the lunch time from those who had was more than enough to induce flop sweats. Everyone’s got an embarrassing American Pie story, and, more importantly, it’s a quality coming-of-ager that works just as well now as it did then. It changed the game, simple as that. While the sequels never quite captured that same magic, their hearts were in right place and they were enjoyable enough to keep us invested.
Which brings us to American Reunion, a movie that I was really hoping would keep the streak alive. Right off the trailer, the ingredients were there: the original cast was back together, I was humming that damn James song again, and before I knew it, nostalgia had taken over. My hopes had been lifted, but in my heart of hearts, I knew it was a long shot. After all, it was now a quadrilogy. Never a good thing.
At any rate, I don’t know how things went so wrong.
I guess if I can point the finger at any one thing, it’s the writing/directing team of Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. Now, this is the first time in the series that an entry’s had zero writing assistance from the guy who wrote the original American Pie, Adam Herz. Never thought much of his writing chops before, but now I’m convinced he’s a fucking savant. I wish I had known this beforehand so I wouldn’t have kept my hopes at a bare minimum, but still, the absence of Adam Herz should not be so apparent. This is not a complex formula.
On that note, I can’t help this nagging feeling that Hurwitz and Schlossberg have never even seen an American Pie movie. If anything, I can only assmue they watched all those direct-to-DVD spin-offs, got hammered while doing so, and wrote up a script before blacking out on top of it. It looks like an American Pie movie, and it smells like an American Pie movie to boot, but she’s a clever girl, this one, and such is the brilliance of her trap.
Take Stifler for instance. Stifler’s always been a dick, but the last time we saw him, he was actually pretty endearing. He grew up, had himself a steady job coaching lacrosse, and even won the heart of January Jones. Not too shabby, and some might say he carried that movie. That’s the Stifler I remember, that’s the Stifler I was hoping to see more of. But here he is almost ten years later, unrecognizable save physical appearance. That’s because Hurwitz and Schlossberg decided to forget that whole maturation period ever happened. Instead, they present us with a Bizarro World Stifler who hasn’t changed a goddamn inch since the day we first met him, is a way bigger asshole than he’s ever been, and has accomplished nothing in life since graduation. This new Stifler is a caricature of himself, void of redemptive qualities, and much like every other aspect of this movie, he is flat-out awful to be around.
I truly do not understand why they did this, but it’s a running theme throughout and a great example of why this movie sucks as a whole. The most heinous crime that American Reunion commits is that it ignores everything that made its predecessors more than just gross-out teen sex comedies. They had souls and a moral compass to balance out how crude they were. This, on the other hand, is heartless, its plot is shamelessly recycled from past entries, and even for the American Pie movies, it’s insanely hypersexualized to the point of passing as a Girls Gone Wild joint. It’d be one thing if it were at least funny, but that ain’t happening either. Not at all. I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea: this is not an American Pie movie and there is nothing to be gained that couldn’t be found in a centerfold.
The only reason it got such a generous Verdict in the first place is due entirely to John Cho and Eugene Levy: the two people here who actually seem to be trying. Nothing against Eugene Levy, but for a guy who’ll take absolutely any role thrown his way, Eugene Levy should not be any movie’s biggest strength. Yet somehow, some way, Jim’s Dad has become a saving grace. Think that kinda sums it all up.
As someone who had to sit through this shit, it’s already bad enough. But the worst part is knowing that everyone got back together for this of all things. It’s great seeing them all together again at first, but it isn’t long before you just start to feel bad for ’em. I mean, some of these guys have done pretty well for themselves since ’99. Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, and Seann William Scott – those guys don’t need the check, they’re getting by just fine. Wish I could say the same for the rest of the crew, but Mena Suvari, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Tara Reid, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Shannon Elizabeth – this is not how you stage a comeback. You’re better than this. Have some self-respect.
Man, I wish I had better news to report, but the only purpose of American Reunion is to bastardize a franchise that a lot of impressionable young boys and girls have grown to love over the years. And that, boys and girls, is unforgivable. I understand the temptation, it was one I gave into, but do not be fooled. This is a cash cow of the highest order, one that’s shallower than a dish bowl and embarrassing to watch for reasons entirely different from what we’ve come to expect. It should never have happened, but there’s still time to save yourself.
So cherish those memories, never let go, and pray to your god that American Retirement never happens.