*** Originally published on Beyond the Marquee, 07/27/12 ***
The older I get, the more my immaturity seems to stand out. I still make prank phone calls, possess a knack for turning anything into sexual innuendo, and even have a friend who goes by the nickname “Mr. Belch”. But in all of my stunted psychology, I just couldn’t find a way to enjoy the fart fest that is American Reunion, available now from Universal Home Entertainment. It’s 1 hr and 53 mins (1 hr 54 mins for the “UNRATED version you couldn’t see in theaters!”) of a franchise trying way too hard to live up to its irrelevant and painful predecessors. Granted, the first American Pie was a nice return to the teen comedies of the 1980′s and managed to launch the careers of John Cho (Star Trek, Harold and Kumar) and Seann William Scott (Role Models, Ice Age). However, any series that struggles to get out from beneath the shadow of a kid screwing a pie is destined to suck no matter how many ways you try to up the ante.
It’s now THIRTEEN years after the pastry porn of American Pie and the gang is getting back together for their TEN year reunion. Makes sense since they’re all a bunch of screw-ups and probably either repeated Senior year 3 times or were just too lazy to organize the event. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), married with a child, come back to East Great Falls and obviously stay with Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy). Oz (Chris Klein) is a sports show host with a model girlfriend. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is married with a beard and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is a worldly man of mystery. Stiffler (Seann William Scott), now a beat-down office assistant, hates his boss but doesn’t quite have the cajones to stand up to him. Reunited, the gang deals with all kinds of issues like the potential for infidelity with old flames, a seductive 18 year old (that Jim once babysat) and her jealous “bro” boyfriend, Jim’s Dad re-entering the dating world, MILF sex (again) and self-mutilating masturbation (again). In the end, they all grow as people… or something like that.
None of the jokes are fresh (now trying to date, Jim helps his father trim his trademark eyebrows… only to reveal that despite piles of hair on the ground they’re EXACTLY the same!) and at a certain point the movie becomes “The Stiffler and Jim’s Dad Show”. It’s kind of like the last few seasons of Family Matters when the only way they could squeeze a laugh from the audience was to put Carl and Urkel in Odd Couple-like circumstances. Oz and Kevin practically share the same story line (will they or won’t they cheat with their old high school girlfriends?) and contribute few attempts at humor. Finch, who worked well in the first film as the focus of Stiffler’s ire, is largely pushed to the backburner with a lackluster romance involving a former-band-camper-turned-hottie. In a bizarre twist, he’s also nailed by the fuzz for being a thieving con-man of sorts. Where the hell did that come from?!? On the other hand, the film embraces the reunion aspect and provides a few fun nods to the first film, though they wear thin pretty fast. The two MILF guys come back for an unnecessary storyline of their own that’s slightly more than an overplayed cameo and Stiffler’s Mom is still ready to jump on anything with a pulse. Even the end credits roll to the song Laid by James, which is every bit as nostalgic as hearing Smash Mouth’s All Star at the end of every Shrek film.
But the fun doesn’t start there.
The Blu-Ray allows you to spice up your movie-viewing experience with the “Out of Control” track. If the film itself doesn’t make you groan, you can choose to have the cast of American Reunion pop up on your screen and say things like “I am a cum robot.” or make “insightful” comments about certain scenes such as, “This is my favorite scene.”
While the humor isn’t my cup of tea, Universal has done OK (but only OK) by this disc. Like almost all new movies, the 1080p looks sharp, but on two different displays, the picture was heavy on the red. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is clean, bringing every penis joke to your ears with clarity. The extras are piled on, with a whopping 7 deleted scenes, 13 extended scenes, alternative takes and a gag reel. Seriously, who wouldn’t be interested in seeing 35+ different takes of John Cho saying “Jim, don’t be a pussy.” while holding a glass of wine? The featurettes Hangin’ With Jason B and The “Reunion” Reunion: Relaunching the Series are mostly self-congratulatory shorts that try to sell you on the “passion” Writers/Directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have for the American Pie series and tell you how great Jason Biggs is. And how much he likes to fart.
I wish I was making this up.
The Lake Bake featurette seems like it should be some sort of drinking or pot smoking game, but it’s just people talking about ***Spoiler Alert*** taking a shit in a cooler (a pivotal plot point in the film) ***End Spoiler*** Dancing With Oz is 3 minutes of talking about a 20 second gag where Chris Klein’s character gets voted off of Dancing with the Stars. Whoops, that was a spoiler too. Sorry. If you’ve ever wondered how a production organizes a massive fight scene with an actor in bondage gear, check out American Gonad-iators: The Fight Scene. Jim’s Dad is all about how overused Eugene Levy is in the series and Ouch My Balls! is perfect for the cinephile who’s always wanted to glimpse behind the scenes and see how actors punch each other in the nuts on set. A commentary track with Hurwitz and Schlossberg is provided and it’s everything you’d expect: two guys talking about the movie they made for 13 year old males. I suppose it’s a credit to the filmmakers that they actually give a real commentary here instead of cracking jokes for two hours. It doesn’t redeem the disc, but it’s a step in the right direction. With all the junk to sift through, there is one bonus feature that’s actually pretty awesome (though in some ways it feels like an ad for the other Pie films): An Interactive American Reunion Yearbook. You can choose any of the characters from the first movie and watch a video clip on where they are now. Scroll over to watch a clip of their most embarrassing moment from the series or a snippet of their favorite activities. Photos, senior quotes and “Most likely to:” predictions are also included… which are a little strange when you choose Jim’s Dad or Stiffler’s Mom. Never too old to get that diploma, I guess.
I’m sure this movie has an audience somewhere, but it’s not me. If you’re in college and drunk/high or are simply amused by foul mouthed biggots running around in “Orgasm Donor” T-shirts, rent it as I can’t tell you it’s worth the purchase. For everyone else, steer clear of American Reunion. It’s not the worst movie I’ve seen this year, but it’s probably the second worst. Juvenile humor really can be enjoyable, so long as the funny is there – but in this case, the Pie‘s long gone stale.