Aptly titled American Reunion, the original cast from the 1999 blockbuster comedy - American Pie, returns to East Great Falls with lewd shenanigans galore. The seventh film in the series; the filmmakers make a decent effort of recapturing the casting magic that made the first a success. We pick up with Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) married with a two year old. Their sex life has become nonexistent. Oz (Chris Klein) is a famous sports personality, with a girlfriend that's a little too adventurous for his taste. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has become a house husband, suffering through reality tv with his wife. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) supposedly is a world class adventurer. Leaving the one, the only, Stifler (Sean William Scott), working as a temp; but still the perverse horn dog.
The guys decide to attend their thirteen year high school reunion. This puts them squarely back in awkward situations with the girls of their youths - Heather (Mena Suvari) and Vicky (Tara Reid). Jim married his high school sweetheart, but wouldn't you know it, the little girl next door he used to baby sit - Mia (Katrina Bowden), has grown up into a smoldering babe; dying to lose her virginity to the right guy. Insert complications here. Rounding out the cast is Jim's dad (Eugene Levy), struggling to get back into the dating world after the death of his wife years before.
The film is funny. There's no denying that. But it's extremely formulaic, with very few surprises in the plot. I think if you liked the first film, then seeing these characters over a decade later, involved in the same silly set-ups will be pretty entertaining. If scatological humor and gratuitous nudity are a turn off, then save your money for the opera because this isn't for you. I thought a particular accomplishment of the film was ably inserting the numerous secondary characters into their own funny scenes. John Cho, Natasha Lyonne, Shannon Elizabeth, and Jennifer Coolidge aka Stifler's Mom, have their own hilarious cameos.
Another key to American Reunion is the runtime. I expected the film to be short, a series of gags over ninety minutes. It actually is about twenty minutes longer, because the filmmakers are going for a good story. Most critics will argue that the film is essentially a template with filler. That point can be made, as they're certainly not doing anything new, but if you like these characters, then it is interesting to see the old relationships develop anew. Jason Biggs is key to making this work. His masturbation incidents; followed by the awkward conversations with his father is like a comedic Old Faithful. You know it's coming, but you're still laughing when it does. Sean William Scott gets a lot of the glory because of Stifler's outlandish antics, but he is really the punchline. Jason Biggs and his every-dork persona of Jim is the apple in this pie.
American Reunion is a good time at the movies this weekend. Universal is hoping the 18-35 set will connect this film to the original and draw in audience nostalgia. I think it works on a base level, which is better than expected in the seventh film of a franchise. I'm not sure I want to see what happens next, but it was funny catching up this time.