Growing up is hard, even for a teen-sex-comedy franchise.
When “American Pie” was released and became a box office smash in 1999 it helped revive the raunchy genre by slyly sneaking in a sweetness amongst all the big, outrageous jokes about sex, body fluids, nudity, and general humiliation.
Two theatrical sequels followed along with a slew of direct-to-video entries; however, the last film to feature the majority of the original cast was 2003’s “American Wedding.”
Taking advantage of the time-honored comedic backdrop of the high school reunion, the entire original cast has reassembled for “American Reunion,” which has successfully retraced the blueprint of the first film’s success by building the heart around all the other bodily functions.
The crux of the story still centers on Jim (Jason Biggs), our long-suffering everyman. In this case, he and his wife, Michelle (the adorable Alyson Hannigan), finds themselves in a romantic rut after becoming parents.
Biggs is more willing than ever to sacrifice his body and his dignity for the sake of a good joke as his ludicrously compromising predicaments pile up like plastic cups at a high school kegger.
The rest of the ensemble returns in classic form as well, with Oz (Chris Klein) now a nationally known sports anchor, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) now a work-from-home househusband, Finch (Eddie Kay Thomas) now a savvy international traveler and Stiffler (Seann William Scott) still the same obnoxious tool you were never sure why you hung out within the first place.
And no “American Pie” movie would be complete without Eugene Levy as Jim’s Dad. Levy’s performance really encapsulates the entire movie as the well-intentioned father whose desire to be open and accepting of his son is matched only by his discomfort with such intimate subject matter.
The scenes between Levy and Biggs is really a master’s class on improv as Levy’s nervous ramblings continue to offer up way more information than should ever be shared between a father and son.
All of our main characters are stuck in some way or another and the main point of the movie, aside from scoring big, gross-out laughs, is that our hang-ups from high school (especially those involving sex and relationships) often continue to haunt us into middle age.
But most of the fun from “American Reunion” is seeing the return of all these characters, including memorable supporting ones like Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler’s mom, Mena Suvari as Heather, and Tara Reid (whom I can only assume the producers scraped up off the floor of a Montreal discotheque) as Vicky.
“American Reunion” was directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg who are best known for their work on the “Harold and Kumar” movies, so the guys know their way around a bawdy, broad comedy.
To their credit, they also kept things simple, so this movie never strives to be anything more than what it is, making it the perfect franchise bookend.
Because things have ended on a high note, let’s hope these characters get all of their issues sorted out and Hollywood can leave well enough alone because I’m not sure I could handle “American Retirement Home.”
“American Reunion” is rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use, and teen drinking.