Onward State Goes to American Reunion
A couple weeks ago, the State Theatre held an advanced screening of American Reunion, the fourth installment in the original American Pie series. Several Onward State writers attended the free screening, which was filled to capacity nearly 30 minutes before the movie started. Below are some of our thoughts.
Reviewing American Reunion is like reviewing Taco Bell (or, for that matter, Olive Garden). I knew exactly what I was getting in to when I walked into the State Theatre Tuesday night, and you know pretty much what I’m going to say here. If you were worried that the time that’s passed since the high school days of American Pie would have mellowed the characters–now into their 30s–out, you’d only be fooling yourself. Expecting anything less than the crude, sophomoric potty humor aimed at the lowest-common denominator that this franchise has become known for would be asinine. So is American Reunion a good movie? Well, is a Cheesy Gordita Crunch a good meal? Reunion made me laugh, sometimes uproariously, and at other times it made me shake my head that it was digging that deep into the bag of comedy tropes. But I liked pointing out the new cast members–Ted, from Better Off Ted, 30 Rock‘s Cerie Xerox, and that chick from Heroes who killed people when her mascara ran were among the additions–and I genuinely enjoyed the nostalgia of seeing characters like John Cho’s “MILF guy” and the Shermanator one more time. And the soundtrack was a worthy successor to the original’s. Reunion was worth what I paid, at least.
American Reunion is a very funny movie. Having watched the first three movies in the series in a row for the first time before this one, I’d have to say one of the strongest parts of the series is its characters. When Stifler shows up with a crazy-looking grin, you know shit’s about to go down, and Eugene Levy is clearly having a blast making Jason Biggs uncomfortable. And who can forget John Cho as “the MILF guy.” However, there’s a disconnect between the ridiculous slapstick and sex jokes and the more romantic comedy-esque relationship drama. Kevin and Oz’s plotlines with Heather and are almost like watching a soap opera, and in general, you know who’s going to end up with whom in the end. The writers definitely had fun making fun of today’s pop culture and technology– for example, Jim’s embarrassing webcam video from the first movie is all over YouTube. If you don’t mind a bit of clichéd drama, American Reunion is definitely worth seeing, with a great cast, hilarious and awkward situations, and just enough feel-good romcom moments to provide a worthy addition to the series.
As someone who has been waiting for this movie to come out for two years, I probably had unreasonable expectations going in. I have no qualms admitting that the sophomoric and raunchy humor of the American Pie series appeals to my simple mind, and I have watched the first three movies dozens of times each. With that being said, American Reunion was great, but certainly my least favorite of the four. The thing that captivated me about the first three movies was the reflection and nostalgia felt by all the characters, on top of the masturbation jokes and sex scenes. American Reunion had arguably the most outlandish humor of all of the American Pie movies, which is fine, but I didn’t feel like I connected emotionally with the characters like I did in the first three. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up some since I watched them initially. Regardless, American Reunion seemed almost like a chick-flick love story with all the expletives we’ve come to love from American Pie thrown in. Don’t get me wrong — Eugene Levy had his best performance yet, and I still laughed constantly throughout — but any movie that shows Jason Biggs’ dick can’t be immune to some criticism. I will watch this movie again, but the high-school versions Jim, Kev, Finch, Oz, and Stifler will always have my heart.
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen all three American Pie movies, but that didn’t stop me from catching onto most of the jokes and references to them in American Reunion. In fact, this is a good thing, since I’m more on the slow side of things and don’t realize something’s funny until much later. Overall, I thought it was really, really, really hilarious. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten a good laugh out of a movie. I laughed so hard that my bladder almost burst and I had to become “that asshole who gets up in the middle of a movie to go to the bathroom.” I’m sorry. That was a first for me, but if I kept laughing, I feared something embarrassing would happen. However, that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying the movie. It was my first time in the State Theater, and I have to say, I liked it! The atmosphere reminded me of the Allen Theater located by my old hometown, but I don’t think American Reunion is a film that I can see them playing…not even for the Lebanon Valley College kids that frequent the place. But ultimately, this film gave me a lot of closure in the American Pie series. I think if they do any more (and the spin-offs don’t count. Those sucked.) films, it might get a bit redundant and nobody’ll want to see them. I honestly don’t think I’ve laughed this much in a long time, and I really needed that. Plus it was really cool that Penn State students got to see an advanced screening of the film. It was the perfect way to end a freebie-filled day. Free Rita’s AND a free advanced screening? Fantastic.
As has already been established, my skills in critiquing movies are not usually the best, but I saw the free screening courtesy of Universal (thanks for the Onward State shoutout at the beginning), and I enjoyed it. I like to think that most things in life are about expectations. If you’re expecting Caesar’s Palace when sleeping at a roadside motor inn, you’re not going to enjoy yourself. But if you know you’re going to a watch another installment of the American Pie series and expect a raunchy (teen?) comedy, you’re golden. I wasn’t expecting to see subtleties a la Community or historical and cultural references Monty Python would usually employ, but I was expecting to have a good time. And I did. While the storyline was very transparent, and the plot followed most, if not all, of the basic and somewhat cliche rules of writing a broad comedy, it felt like a fun sequel. The characters grew up, and so did the actors; some of them put on weight, others had extra wrinkles, a couple look like they had plastic surgery – looking at you Shannon Elizabeth. The shenanigans are as nasty as they ever were, with a few scenes making the entire audience of college students audibly whinge with a collective “Eeeewwww” (let’s just say bathroom humor is abundant, in more ways than one). Eugene Levy makes his 8th appearance in the series as Jim’s dad, Mr. Levenstein, and doesn’t seem to have lost his touch at all, even though a comedy snob might scoff at Levy’s departure from his Second City roots. On that note, if you’re going to see the movie, stay for the extra part at the end, you can’t get more slapstick sexual humor than that. Since I wasn’t able to sit with the rest of the Onward State crew, I can only speak for myself, (and, I guess everybody else’s review will speak for them) but I would definitely recommend it to anybody that wants to unwind with some crude humor, easy-to-follow romances and a desire to be reminded of that time you watched the first American Pie, back in 1999.
I really don’t go to the movies very often (I think the last movie I went to see was Avatar) and I’ve only been to the State Theater twice, but they had an advanced screening of American Reunion for free — I’m not about to miss that. I’ve seen all the original American Pie movies and this one was no different. It was fantastic start to finish; definitely worth seeing in theaters if you didn’t make it last night. Just about all of the characters from the original movies (not the spin-offs which were mediocre at best) are back with the addition of a few new ones. The character progression is awesome and it’s hysterical to see where they all are years down the road. Stifler is still the man and his one-liners are frequent and completely outrageous. His performance alone is worth the price of admission. They could end the series here because it’s the perfect ending, but they did leave some loose ends – something tells me this won’t be the last American Pie.
American Pie is one of the only film series I’ve ever seen do a sequel years later with the exact same cast. It was really because of that that I was even interested in seeing it. Im not normally one to enjoy a sequel, but I thought that this one was extremely impressive. (by the way, I know that this is way past a sequel, but you catch my drift). The jokes didn’t seem desperate or overdone, and for the kind of humor that an American Pie movie is supposed to have, it was hilarious. And like Shawn said, if there’s a naked guy at the beginning of a movie, you know it’s gonna be quite the ride.
Nostalgia. That’s the one word I’d use to describe American Reunion. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical going in to see the film, since most times when a sequel comes so late to a series it usually sucks really bad (ever seen The Godfather Part III?) But American Reunion holds fast to its roots, and you can know exactly what to expect when you walk into the theater. It’s not just good because it reminds you of the others, it’s good because it’s still hilarious, often garnering huge laughs from the audience, like Jim’s dad’s line, “Shit! The Fuzz!” during a party at Stifler’s house. The other great thing is that they got literally every major iconic character to at least make an appearance, including the unforgettable Nadia. And just when you think they couldn’t get one favorite peripheral character back, they bring him back in, too, though I won’t say which for fear of ruining the surprise near the end. From the Stifler moments to the awkward Mr. Levenstein conversations to the general raunchy flavor of the humor, this final part to the American Pie series is just as funny as the rest of the series.