TAG | American Reunion
American Reunion lands on Blu-Ray July 10 and star Thomas Ian Nicholas talks exclusively about how making this American Pie film was a much more enjoyable experience than any other. Don’t get us wrong, he adores every second appearing with the cast he first joined 12 years ago. But, since this film was shot on location, it truly felt like an environment to further enhance the casts’ already strong bond.
“It was the most fun we’ve had making one of these films. Instead of doing our own thing on the weekends, we were hanging out with each other. It was more a reunion for us as people than it was for the characters,” Nicholas said and laughed.
“I really dig the idea of shooting on location. It gets you out of your own routine and responsibilities at home and puts you in a bubble with everyone. That’s one of the things I like most about film versus television is that you have this project that has a beginning, middle and end and it’s an entity that exists on its own. You delve into it and emerge on the other side and wonder what just happened.”
Nicholas cannot put a finger on why audiences have responded for years to the hijinx of this cast shown prominently on the American Reunion poster -- a group that also includes Chris Klein, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott and, of course, Jason Biggs.
“Part of it is a lightning in a bottle thing to be a part of that. It’s always easy to look at something that is or has some success and dissect what it was. The only thing I’ve ever noticed from the beginning -- and I noticed it the first time I read the script for American Pie -- was that the script had heart,” he said.
“To me it seems it’s the one thing that was maintained throughout the films that sets it apart from other teen gross-out sex comedies and why we get away with so much. We have that juxtaposition with crazy things happening and heartfelt characters.”
Working with the Weitz brothers on the first film mirrored their experience working with two directors -- Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg -- on the latest film, one that has given us so many cherished American Reunion quotes.
“Each director has had their own style. The first one was directed by Paul and Chris Weitz. Granted they were brothers but the way that they worked together was in a very similar nature to the way that Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg worked together,” Nicholas said. “Having two directors again was also a bit nostalgic.”
What he enjoys most about portraying Kevin all these years is that it allows the actor to be the straight man, something cherished in comedy.
“There’s a lot of things I appreciate about him. I also appreciate the fact that he really doesn’t have to do a lot of the embarrassing stuff in the films,” he said and laughed.
“I guess also that he’s the straight guy of the comedy group, which in my mind is one of the most important aspects of a comedy group, but often one of the least appreciated. But I really value that about Kevin. It’s kind of like the straighter I play it and the more serious that I am, the more outlandish characters like Jim (Biggs) or Stifler (Scott) can be.”
“American Reunion” is written and directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg who were more than up for the challenges. In fact, they were adamant about getting the job. The writers of all three films in the Harold & Kumar series (and directors of the second one), Hurwitz and Schlossberg were chomping at the bit to re-create the world of “American Pie” while bringing their trademark stamp to it. Both have been die-hard fans of the series since their first viewings and they’ve lost count of how many times they saw the first film when it came out in 1999.
At the film’s press day, MoviesOnline talked to Hurwitz and Schlossberg about the challenges of getting the original cast back together and trying to stay true to the characters created by Adam Herz. They told us about their collaborative process writing the script and directing the movie, how much R rated comedies have changed since “American Pie” first came out, and what it was like dealing with the pressure to go all out. They also discussed the importance of balancing the raunch of the film with the heartfelt, poignant themes like first love and the father-son relationship.
Q: Was it difficult getting all these actors back together again while at the same time staying true to the characters and expanding the concept? Did you talk to Adam Herz, the creator of the first “American Pie”?
JH: We were enormous fans of that first “American Pie.” We were in college when it came out. We watched it over and over and over again. We knew the characters and the franchise really, really well. We didn’t actually work with Adam on the project. We’ve known Adam for a very long time, and he knew that we were huge fans. When we took over on this one, he gave us his blessing and support. It is definitely a challenge, but it’s one of those things where we connected with these characters so much, especially in that first film, that the opportunity to bring them all back together and figure out where they are, in a high school reunion [was irresistible]. We all fell in love with them when they were in high school, so the reunion concept was just so perfect for us to take everybody in this large ensemble and give each person a storyline that’s hopefully really fun and has moments where they can shine.
Q: Was Adam Herz involved at all with the script?
HS: No, we wrote the script and directed the movie. We had the opportunity to decide what happens to the characters in their lives. Adam has seen the movie and he really likes it.
Q: Did you look to the Weitz Brothers, the directors of the original film, as inspiration when you were making this?
HS: We’ve actually had the chance to meet them over the course of the years. Once we signed on, they talked to us, but really their biggest suggestion was to make our own movie. They were out making their own movies, so they weren’t able to be there the whole way through. But, I think they understood that we were huge fans and we loved their first movie and what made it work. We got to know them a little bit more through the process, and I think they really like the movie.
Q: Finch has a great throwaway line about how lots of people have a 13-year reunion. Why did you decide to make this a 13-year reunion?
HS: That was definitely a frustrating thing on our part. We wished that we were approached in 2008 about doing a movie that comes out in 2009. It was just the scenario that we were in. We found out about it in 2010 and it was already 11 years. We did the math in our heads and were like, well, what are we going to do? But, the truth is that Jon and I didn’t have our 10-year reunion. After our school dropped the ball on it, they decided the next year to make it up by getting some people together. So, for us, it wasn’t the craziest idea in the world to get together at a time that isn’t a perfect round number.
Q: What was it like to get all of these actors back together? Was it kind of like coming back to school for them?
JH: For them, it absolutely was. It was cool because a lot of these actors got their careers launched off of this film. They did three movies. A lot of them haven’t seen each other in awhile, so for them it was totally like a reunion. We were like the new kids who were welcomed in there and we were right in the mix. I think they all really appreciated what fans we were of the franchise and of their characters, so it was fun to collaborate with all of them.
Q: In the 13 years since “American Pie,” there has been a lot of change and many more R-rated comedies. Did you feel the pressure to go balls out?
HS: One of the things that we love most about R comedy is that it goes all-out. Jon and I have always liked that type of comedy. I mean, we like all types of comedy. We’ve written a bunch of scripts now, and we’ve created the Harold & Kumar movies, which have definitely contributed to movies pushing the envelope. It’s a fun challenge to figure out what the new shit joke is going to be, or how you’re going to have nudity in a way that’s going to make people uncomfortable. It’s something that every single comedy director right now faces that question of “Are you going to push it?” The bad movies are trying to push it. You feel like they’re just trying to find something outrageous in them. For us, we just start with the character. We think of Stifler, and that usually just leads to something that’s outrageous.
Q: How do you balance the raunch of the film with the heart?
JH: It’s what we connected with, with that first film. What we loved about the original “American Pie” was that, yes, Jim has sex with a pie, but we also loved how it dealt with first love and father-son relationships, and things like that. When we approached the project, the very first thing we did was take each character and say, okay, where would this character be? We didn’t want them to be caricatures of themselves. We wanted them to live and breathe and grow with the audience and with us. When you start from that place and you’re taking the character seriously, it’s going to lead down a variety of paths, especially with an ensemble like this. There’s a core friendship with the guys, which has a lot of heart, and there’s the father-son relationship and all the love stories that bring that too. But, with the characters that have already been created and the areas that we were taking them to, it naturally led to the comedy as well. It just all started from a place of character.
Q: For each of you, who was a character that you were just dying to expand upon or maybe you identified with from the first movie?
HS: MILF Guy #2. For us, we’ve been talking to John Cho about the MILF guys for almost a decade now, since we’ve been working with him on the Harold & Kumar movies. He had this small, tiny part in “American Pie,” and yet it’s so memorable. A friend of ours is Asian American, and when we would go to bars, everybody would shout, “MILF!,” at him. We always joked to him about the other MILF Guy that’s there with him, and how John Cho was not MILF Guy #1 but MILF Guy #2. So, when we took on the franchise, we got to write not only Stifler and Jim but MILF Guy #2. We were actually writing this character.
JH: Yeah, we got to figure it out and expand upon that. I would say that Stifler was a really fun one for us because he was the king of high school and the jerk amongst the group of guys, but we really wanted to make it where you’re rooting for Stifler. At the beginning of this film, you end up seeing Stifler as a little bit of an underdog and you feel bad for him. We wanted Stifler to be Stifler, and this weekend is when he gets to turn back the clock and be the guy that he loved being and had fun being. But, at the same time, we loved the idea of making a movie where you’re actually rooting for Stifler to succeed.
Q: Was it difficult reuniting the original cast?
JH: Luckily, that’s not our job to negotiate the deals. What we told the studio is we wanted everybody back, not just the same five guys. We want MILF Guy #2 back. But we also wanted MILF Guy #1 back. We wanted Jessica. We wanted “The Shermanator.” We wanted all the characters. This is one of the reasons why “American Pie” was so successful. You suddenly got to know 15 or 16 people and you identified and related to the characters. For us, that’s what’s going to make this feel like an event. That’s going to make the movie more successful and more people will like it.
HS: I think what we brought to the table was the fact that we loved all the characters and we made sure we gave everybody something to do. We didn’t want to just bring everybody back, each character just randomly showing up or sitting around in scenes. We wanted everybody to have a moment to shine in the movie and a lot of the major characters to all have storylines that they could dig into.
JH: This is MILF Guy #1’s best part I think.
HS: Yes, absolutely. There’s no doubt about that.
Q: Were there any unusual changes or adjustments to the storyline that weren’t originally planned or that evolved during the course of the production?
JH: Most of the storylines that you see are very similar to what we had originally pitched. For example, there are certain things when you are dealing with actors’ schedules. Alyson Hannigan is on a TV show and had a limited amount of time that she was able to be there, so you’re like, okay, I have 11 days with her. You realize she can’t be in every single one of these locations, so then you end up changing it. We used to have her at the bonfire party, and there were things at the beach with Jim and Michelle, but we ended up having to make some adjustments there. In the end, you always try to find a way with whatever challenge you have to enhance the movie.
HS: There is one scene in the movie where Stifler gets back at the young guys. In our original script, it involved Stifler on a boat, ruining their boat, and it ended up costing too much money. We figured that out already a week into the shoot, so there became this blank space in the movie. We know Stifler needs to get back at these young guys in some way at a beach. We spit-balled and it ended up being him shitting in a cooler.
Q: How do you guys work together as writers and directors, especially when you’re on set?
JH: Hayden and I were friends from high school. We always talked about doing these kinds of movies, and when we started writing together, it was really just us in a room figuring everything out. We’d put together the whole outline, and then we would split up different things. We’d each write separate things. We’d read each other’s stuff. But, by the time you had the finished script, it was a joint vision that we both really had. That leads to a really good situation on set because we already know the movie that we’re trying to make there. In terms of making decisions, we do a lot of the stuff together. We’re usually both sitting at the monitor, we both talk to actors, we both talk to all the members of the crew. But, there’s a lot of work to be done when you’re directing a film, so we’re able to split up. Sometimes one person is talking to an actor and another person is talking to the D.P. We’ll switch on and off.
HS: We take turns saying, “Action!” and “Cut!” After we shoot something, we look at each other, we talk about it. Occasionally we’ll disagree, but that’s always a good thing because sometimes that leads to new ideas.
Q: What extras or unrated additions will be on the DVD?
JH: There are a lot of deleted scenes and a lot of extra material. When you have this many storylines, the challenge is packing them all into one movie. We didn’t want this to be a movie that’s two and a half hours long. We shot a lot of stuff. Pretty much every character in there, you’re going to find something new on the DVD. There’s some added raunch on the DVD. It wasn’t about censoring it from the movie, but just things that didn’t fit, maybe some toe sucking.
HS: There’s Stifler offending different people, and maybe a little bit more nudity.
Q: Could the extended version be two and a half hours?
JH: It could be.
Q: Why not?
HS: I think because we want people to watch the movie and enjoy it. It’s not that the scenes themselves aren’t good. In the past, when you have a special DVD like that, you’ll put all these different things that you would have liked to have put in there. But then, when you watch it, you’re like, okay, now it’s slow, and how many millions of people are watching this version? There is going to be an unrated DVD and we are going to put some things in there, but we were careful not to throw in so much that it actually hurts the movie because there’s a reason why we didn’t keep it in there.
Q: What inspired you to get Jim’s dad and Stifler’s mom together?
JH: That was one of the very first ideas we had. We love Eugene Levy and we love Jennifer Coolidge. They’re two major assets that you have in this franchise. The thing that we discussed right away was that they’ve never shared a scene together in this franchise, even though they’ve worked together on other films. So, one of the first days, we were like, should we kill off Jim’s mom? We were like that doesn’t sound very funny, but maybe it will add certain layers of heart and put Jim in a position where there’s some role reversal in how he’s dealing with his father.
HS: It’s also just so perfect because Eugene Levy plays a character named “Jim’s dad” and Jennifer Coolidge plays a character named “Stifler’s mom.” It just felt like they were fated to be together.
Q: Is that really Jason Biggs’ penis in the film?
JH: Yes, that’s actually Jason.
HS: You can tell because the first shot looks like it could have been a stunt person, but then we had the wider shot to show that it is him. He was actually very adamant about it being him.
“American Reunion” opens in theaters on April 6th.
It was summer 1999 when four small-town Michigan boys began a quest to lose their virginity in “American Pie.” In the years that have passed, Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) married while Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Vicky (Tara Reid) said goodbye. Oz (Chris Klein) and Heather (Mena Suvari) grew apart, but Finch (Eddie Kay Thomas) still longs for Stifler’s Mom (Jennifer Coolidge). And Stifler (Seann William Scott) remains the same as he ever was. Now, in “American Reunion,” the outrageously funny fourth entry in the American Pie franchise, these lifelong friends have come home as adults to reminisce about – and get inspired by – the hormonal teens they once were.
MoviesOnline sat down with Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan to talk about what it was like reuniting with the original cast and resuming their roles now as a married couple fighting to keep their sex life alive. They told us why the writer/directors decided it was time for Jason’s junk to finally be revealed after having been such a major player in the American Pie franchise. They also discussed how much fun they had doing the dominatrix scene, which themes in the storyline resonated with them the most, and why they felt Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg did justice to Adam Herz’s original screenplay and the characters he created.
Q: Jason, what was the conversation like about how you would show your junk? And Alyson, now that two of your onscreen husbands, Jason Segal and Jason Biggs, have both shown their goods, do we have you to blame for that?
AH: I guess.
JB: She brings it out in guys. I don’t know what it is.
AH: Obviously, I think with this Jason, Jason Biggs, it was about time because we’ve spent three movies listening to and talking about it and the pie got to see it. So it was about time we all got to see it.
JB: The penis has been a major player in the American Pie franchise.
Q: Its own character?
JB: It has been its own character.
AH: It’s like the Rosebud.
JB: Yeah. Nailed it. So it was about time.
AH: We needed the reveal.
JB: Yeah, the conversation went something like I kept pushing the guys, Jon and Hayden, our writer/directors, for that pie scene. What’s going to be the pie scene this time, guys? Some earlier drafts felt like it was missing. I gave them a carte blanche, just a blank canvas. I was like “Guys, I will literally do anything as long as it makes sense in the context of the film and for the character and as long as I think it’s funny. Jon wrote me one day and said “Would you be willing to show your…?” I was like “Yes, absolutely, if it’s funny!” I laughed out loud and they pitched me the idea and I was like “That sounds great.”
AH: And as far as the technicalities of doing the scene, which was my first day of shooting by the way, …
JB: Yeah! Welcome back to the franchise, Alyson! Here’s my penis.
AH: Yay! It was quite technically difficult because I had to sort of become his eyes because he couldn’t lean down and see because then he wasn’t squishing it enough.
JB: It was not easy.
AH: And there are so many positions and we had to decide which one was the funniest.
JB: Yeah. Two o’clock, or the Eiffel Tour, or the Sydney Harbor Bridge, or the straight-up hot dog bun.
AH: The dead insect on the windshield.
JB: Exactly. Yup. The drugged astronaut. The purple nerple. The options were endless. I should also tell you that I used to star in Puppetry of the Penis in Sydney, Australia when it first came out, so that’s why we had so many options. I was very skilled.
AH: It was good you took out all the piercings for the scene.
JB: Yeah, two of the holes closed. Bummer!
AH: Not the hole he wanted to close either.
JB: Yeah, that’s right. I pee through my mouth now. It’s very strange.
AH: We’re a little punchy. Sorry!
Q: Can you talk about the horny aspect of your character’s personality? Also, do you think that men are naturally attracted to barely legal girls?
JB: Well let me answer the first part of that question first while I think of a politically correct answer for the second part. I love that Jim has grown up, and Jim and Michelle are married now, and he’s got a kid and he means well. But, in his mind, he has grown up. The problem is he finds himself, much like in the first film, and frankly all of the American Pie films, he finds himself in a situation where he’s once again sexually frustrated. When Jim is sexually frustrated, he ends up making some poor decisions. When he makes some poor decisions…
AH: We make a movie.
JB: We make a film. When we make a film, we get rich. When we get rich, …. No, I’m kidding. The thing that I love now is that Jim is 31. How old would he be? 30, 31? We’ve been trying to figure out the age of our characters. We’re not exactly sure.
AH: We didn’t do much research.
JB: 1899, so carry the one…old! And so, the truth is, after you’re 30 years old, men still masturbate. There are still sexual problems that happen, that arise for guys.
AH: Jason, do you want to tell us something?
JB: I’m masturbating right now as we speak, right under the table. Is that what you meant?
JB: I don’t even know what your question was.
Q: What about men who go after barely legal young girls?
JB: Young girls. That’s what you want to get to. You sick, sick man.
AH: It’s a true/false answer.
AH: I think it’s more that this beautiful woman almost…
JB: Used to be …
AH: It’s like she’s aggressively coming onto him.
JB: There’s that. I also think the fact that she used to maybe be [attracted to Jim]…but I don’t know. Is that an element? Or is it the fact that she’s also just turned 18 in high school so there’s something about the just legal aspect of it. I don’t know. I’m married. I’m not attracted to any other woman ever.
AH: Good answer.
JB: I heard she showed her boobs in this movie. Is that true? Did that happen? I had to turn my eyes.
AH: He was just looking straight into her eyes.
JB: Into her heart and soul.
Q: Jason, when you read the dominatrix scene, were you like “Is that all you got, guys? I’m Jason Biggs!”?
JB: Yeah, I’m like “C’mon guys, step up to the plate. Don’t be a pussy. Let’s do this. Alright?” Sorry about my language. It’s that time of day. I’m also that type of person always so… Actually it’s funny because the dominatrix scene was in the earlier drafts and I was like “This is great. This is funny. I think that’ll be really funny. But what’s the next step? There’s more to do here.” And so, if there was any sort of concern I had with the very, very early drafts, and I mean a minor concern, because when I tell you that this script was in the shape it was, it blew my mind. Jon and Hayden came in and I read the script and I was like “Did these guys write the first ‘American Pie’?” They did such justice I felt to Adam Herz’s original screenplay and the characters that he had originally created and I think it comes across on screen. I feel like this movie is more like the first one than any of the other ones.
AH: They were like the perfect combination of the Weitz Brothers and Adam.
JB: Actually they were. The Weitz Brothers directed the first film and Adam wrote it. I’d say that’s pretty accurate. So, if there was anything, I was just okay, let’s keep [going]. How much further can we go? That’s one of the biggest challenges because now that you have these characters who are in their thirties, it’s tougher to credibly find these situations where you can push these boundaries and put them in these ridiculous scenarios that are believable, aren’t gratuitous, that aren’t awkward or just illegal in some way. I mean, they’re older. Some of the things they did in the previous films would be not acceptable for a 30-year-old. They had to update it, if you will, so that’s why the penis scene, I think, works organically, organ being the appropriate root word there.
Q: Alyson, in that scene, was it natural to you that Michelle would become the dominatrix?
AH: Yeah. I mean, she was in the first film. (to Jason) Right? I mean she pretty much…
JB: She was. You made me your bitch.
AH: Absolutely. Still are.
JB: I always will be.
AH: So yeah, I definitely am, and especially if she is feeling responsible for letting the sparks fade a little on their sexual life because she’s been so focused on being a mom. So she sees this weekend as a way to reinvigorate their lives and remind themselves of where they started. So yeah, definitely.
Q: There are a lot of themes in the movie that are very relatable, real life problems. What did you gravitate towards the most?
AH: Definitely balancing the married relationship now with parenthood I could relate to. My situation wasn’t as extreme as Jim and Michelle’s, of course, but when my daughter was first born, we were definitely all consumed with just her. It was probably like quite a few months where we realized ok wait, we do need to actually set aside a date night instead of trying to fit it in between diaper changes or whatever. But you just get so wrapped up and it was brilliant and there was no problem there, but it was like okay, we can’t do this for 18 years. We need to still have our couple times so we try to have a date night every week, even if it’s just going to dinner and having a dinner that’s not interrupted by a 3-year-old. That’s just nice.
Q: What about you, Jason? Was there anything that you related to such as the dad/son relationship or somebody still trying to find themselves as an adult?
JB: That’s certainly a good one. For me, the biggest change in my life personally since the last film has been getting married. Getting married for me has kind of shifted my focus in such a profound way. You just realize you can’t be so selfish anymore. There’s someone else. And it’s not just about the other person, but it’s about the relationship as well. Your priorities are realigned. Now the next step will be kids and I can’t imagine what that’s going to do, but that’ll be a game changer. It’s just interesting to see Jim wrestle with those same sort of big ideas where it’s not just about him anymore. You think about the first movie, the whole movie rests upon how all these guys just want to get laid. It’s very me, me, me. Get me laid. You mentioned Jim and his dad too. That’s really interesting. That’s a great part of the film for me. I’ve actually found this as I’ve gotten older too that my dynamic with my parents has changed quite a bit. There’s a beautiful moment in the film. It’s funny because a lot of my favorite moments in this movie are not really the funny ones but the more poignant, sweeter moments. Actually, that’s always been the case with the whole franchise. I love when Jim offers his dad advice in this movie and it’s kind of flipped. I think that’s really, really cool. That’s another genius thing, I think, that our writer-director guys came up with. I found that my relationship with my old man has changed considerably. As an adult, it’s a different thing. It’s like he’s a new person to me and it’s great. We have a totally different relationship than when I was growing up as you’re supposed to. But that resonates with me quite a bit. That’s cool.
Q: You guys are so close to this franchise. You’ve been there since the beginning. Are there any characters that you wanted closure for and when you saw the script you said “Oh yes, I’ve been waiting for that to happen”?
AH: I love the MILF guys’ storyline. I love that we really don’t know why they broke up but they’re back together.
JB: And when we say ‘broke up’… Listen, Johnny Cho plays the role in a way that maybe is a little…I don’t know what you guys thought…but we’re not saying they were gay. We’re not saying that they broke up.
AH: No, just their friendship.
JB: We never intended that. I mean, they’re buddies.
AH: We weren’t saying that they were in a relationship.
JB: Right. But people have been questioning. I’ve heard that people have been like “Is he gay or…?” And then, when you just said broken up, I was like I wonder if people are going to think that’s what we’re trying to imply.
Q: Maybe they had a girl come between them? Or a MILF?
JB: Yeah! Maybe they had a MILF come between them!
“American Reunion” opens in theaters on April 6th.
American Reunion could not be a more perfect title for the closing chapter in the American Pie series. We first met the gang of sex-crazy teens in 1999 and what set that sex farce apart was its attention to developing characters that people truly cared about. It spawned two official sequels, a slew of direct-to-DVD related films and now returns for what is a reunion on multiple levels.
The gang is gathering in their hometown for their high school reunion and although many of them have completely changed in the years since graduation, once they are all together, with all the insane hijinx, it appears that this circle of friends produces the same hormonally driven madness we adored in American Pie.
Jim and Michelle (Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan) are married with a child. They are a tad sexually frustrated as the spark has extinguished since the birth of their baby. When Jim gets horny, hilarity ensues. The iconic pie scene of the first film has had the ante raised as Jim finds himself naked from the waist down in the kitchen after a night with his high school buds. Michelle and a friend enter the room and all he can find to shield his manhood from full view is a clear saucepan cover.
It is that type of humor that still permeates the Pie franchise. And, it is also the same reason that people adored the first one and will treasure the experience of the Reunion.
Everyone’s favorite character, Stifler (Seann William Scott), has not left their hometown and is working as a temp, simply to keep busy. He doesn’t need the money -- Stifler’s mom is loaded. But when his pals come to town for the get-together, he sees it as his chance to relive the guys’ glory days and get out of his life rut.
How American Reunion filmmakers Adam Herz and Jon Hurwitz (A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas) have triumphed is they, first, could not have been a more perfect selection to close out the series. Lifelong fans of the first film, their love letter to it is present on every frame of the latest. There are moments of reality that they do not shy away from, such as showing that although Stifler is up for more raucous fun, perhaps his bros have grown up and perhaps it is time for him as well. That moment, thankfully, does not come until the third act. And there is no right or wrong when it comes to the realization. But, the funny, laugh-out-loud moments abound that make audiences thrilled that although the gang has changed ever so slightly, they are still prone to the type of situational comedy that endeared us to the first film.
Sure, there are drawbacks. For one, Tara Reid’s acting is simply unwatchable. Not that she was ever the best thespian in the world, but her performance is painful. Also, some may see the high school party scene as a bit creepy. But, true fans of the series will merely see it as another extension of the libido-driven mayhem that this group of friends always seem to find themselves in.
There are other moments that hats have to go off to the filmmakers. One such moment is the pairing of Stifler’s mom and Jim’s dad (Jennifer Coolidge and Eugene Levy). It is a refreshing turn to a film series that could have easily gone stale before the final credits rolled.
From high school to college to a wedding and now to the inevitable reunion- the AMERICAN PIE movies always had a style of humor that spoke to the time period they were conceived. Immature jokes that I feel blended well with the pretty simple moral of friends and relationships that all equaled harmless comedy and ones I really liked. The biggest question I had for AMERICAN REUNION was rather or not that style of comedy had a place so many years later after all the direct to DVD sequels watered down its brand. The good news is it’s a major step up from AMERICAN WEDDING and is consistently funny even if it is a bit stuck in its late 90′s brand of humor- although that’s mostly what endeared me series to begin with.
Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Stifler (Sean William Scott) all return to East Great Falls for their high school reunion with all the baggage that comes with their adult lives. Jim is still married to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan); they have a kid together and are dealing with a rut in their sex life while Jim’s dad is still struggling with the passing of his wife. Kevin is married and works from home but may still have feelings for Vicky (Tara Reid), Oz is a semi celebrity that hosts a sports show and appeared on a celebrity dance off reality show, Finch is continuing his international adventures and Stifler is a temp at a large company run by a young guy that walks all over him. Once together they try to relive the fun from high school but also struggle with the drama that follows them home the days leading up to the reunion.
The first problem right off the bat is all the ham fisted cameos by just about every minor character from the previous films. Vicky’s friend from high school, the Sherminator and Nadia being the worst of the bunch as each of them show up for a total of maybe 3 minutes if you added their screen time together. I always liked Kevin’s character and he has some decent moments in the film but his entire plotline with Vicky in this one felt tacked on and if not for some decent moments provided by Kevin it would have been much worse.
The film always had a goofy sense of humor with all of Jim’s predicaments and other over-the-top gross out gags and AMERICAN REUNION provides all of that but turns them up significantly with penis shots, lots of nudity, masturbation, poop gags and more. There was always the TERMINATOR jokes for Sherman’s character highlighted by the theme from Cameron’s film but this time it even cuts to the Terminator’s infra red vision and targets a character for Shermination which if am remembering correctly takes that joke further than in either of the first two films.
The strength of the film for me has always been the friendship between the main group and the way they joke with each other but are also there to bail each other out. That is also very prevalent here but as with the previous films when it all wraps itself up at the end it’s all a bit too neat and tidy and even a little rushed. The trouble the characters get into never really seems to go as far logically as it would given the things they are caught doing, so you never get a sense that any character will fail at digging themselves out of their predicament.
Biggs, Nicholas, Thomas all play their characters the same as they ever did although Biggs has always been my favorite and I still liked him quite a bit here as he transitions from bumbling sex obsessed geek to a bumbling sex obsessed geek who is also a family man. I like Biggs because he’s always trying to do the right thing and he’s got morals that are unwavering which make him as likeable and respectable as he is even with the scandalous situations he finds himself in. Klein, whose absence from the wedding is waived off in one line but never explained is also a nice addition in this film as his character has some very over-the-top character moments but is a lot like Jim in terms of his morals and likability. Scott’s character of Stifler, just like in AMERICAN WEDDING, has become one of the weaker aspects- not because he’s a bad character, but because he’s not written that well and Scott just seems to be forcing the offensive dialogue he’s getting and trying too hard to make him exactly as he was in the first two but missing the mark. Stifler has always been the more cartoonish of the bunch but in the last two films he is even more so and the tone of his voice just sounds higher and not as natural when compared to the first two films.
I did find the film very funny overall though due almost entirely to each individual set piece set up for the longer gags and jokes. Jim finds himself in a variety of tough situations as usual and each of them are very funny, one of which transpires at one of Stifler’s famous parties that consequently has also changed with the years. The main cast are put into the middle of the uncomfortable spots and have to work themselves out not unlike the extended scene in AMERICAN PIE 2 when Stifler, Jim and Finch find themselves in a kinky back and forth with two girls Stifler assumes are lesbians. One of the central gags here involve the group working together to sneak a drunk and topless young teen back into her parents house and get back out without being caught.
AMERICAN REUNION may not be as well rounded as most R rated comedies in a post Apatow world but it is still a welcome return to the series- more so than AMERICAN WEDDING was in its day. The comedy is definitely a bit dated but if you are like me and still look back fondly at those days then you will still get a kick out it. The film suffers a bit from the half hearted wrap up at the end that feels a bit too much like an after school special. The gross out gags and chaotic nature of the comedic set pieces are all laugh out loud hilarious and constant enough to make the film a fun night out and a charming bit of nostalgia for those that flocked out to the theaters back when the first AMERICAN PIE movies were in their heyday.