By Michael Phillips 2014-07-04

By Michael Phillips

Tribune Newspapers Critic

2 stars

Sweeping aside the film's weirdest unasked question -- who goes to their 13th high school reunion? -- the characters created by Adam Herz for the 1999 hit "American Pie" return for a rather tired sequel called "American Reunion," in which poor, desperate Jim Levenstein's genitals once again get their ears boxed (metaphorically speaking), and Stifler's way with nubile 17-year-olds doesn't seem quite as obnoxiously sprightly as it once did, given that Stifler is now supposed to be in his early 30s and the actor, Seann William Scott, is 35.

The movie acknowledges this queasy disconnect, though acknowledging it doesn't make it much funnier. Everyone in the ensemble keeps pushing the woebegone nostalgia angle, pining for lost youth, eager to reactivate now-dormant sex lives. Every other line, it seems, refers to "back in the day" or "wasn't this more fun when we were younger?" or how "old" they're feeling. You'd think this was a remake of "Cocoon."

"American Pie," and the better parts of the second one, proved that the right combination of hard-R-rated raunch and occasional sincerity was golden. Those films were followed by "American Wedding" and four direct-to-DVD spinoffs.

The through-line linking all eight, including "American Reunion," has been Eugene Levy as Noah Levenstein, now a widower, still dispensing awkward advice to his son, played by Jason Biggs.

The plot you know, even if you don't. The East Great Falls, Mich., reunion weekend brings together Jim, Stifler, haute poseur Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas, adroitly treading the line between "deadpan" and "bored"), sportscaster Oz (Chris Klein) and the other guy, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), now bearded and married. Jim and his band-camp-derived wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) have fallen into a nonsexual rut since the birth of their son. The opening scene in the sequel from writers-directors and "Harold & Kumar" alums Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg presents dueling-masturbation scenarios under the same exhausted-spouse roof.

Now and then the movie rouses itself to deliver. If you go to "American Reunion" -- and many will, if they harbor fond memories of the first one, and if they can find a sitter -- you should stay through the end credits. Levy and Jennifer Coolidge (Stifler's mom) are on a date at a movie theater, and while the ensuing joke is as old as time, the way Levy finesses it you wonder if the "American Pie" franchise would've gotten half as far as it has without him.

For the record, the movie's cinematography and editing are pure hack work, drab and jumpy and jammed with full-face close-ups. Not good for comedy. Next stop: "American Time-Share."

MPAA rating: R (for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking).

Running time: 1:53.

Cast: Jason Biggs (Jim); Seann William Scott (Stifler); Alyson Hannigan (Michelle); Chris Klein (Oz); Tara Reid (Vicky); Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin).

Credits: Directed by Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz; written by Schlossberg, Hurwitz and Adam Hertz, produced by Chris Moore, Chris Weitz, Craig Perry and Warren Zide. A Relativity Universal Pictures release.

Back to Movie Details

Movie News

Laverne Cox, a cast member in "Grandma," poses at the premiere of the film at the Eccles Theatre during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Sundance closing-night film, 'Grandma' showcases Lily TomlinSundance Fest's closing-night film, 'Grandma,' a heartfelt comic showcase for Lily Tomlin
The Associated Press13 hours ago
Actor Bradley Cooper speaks on a panel during the launch event for "Got Your 6," a multifaceted program that includes encouraging film and television to include characters who are veterans, Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, at the National Geographic Society in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
First lady defends 'American Sniper' at veterans eventMichelle Obama, Bradley Cooper urge better portrayal of vets; Obama defends 'American Sniper'
The Associated Press16 hours ago
In this Jan. 26, 2015 photo, Tig Notaro poses for a portrait to promote the film, "Tig", at the Eddie Bauer Adventure House during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)
Comedian Tig Notaro is star of Sundance doc, host of awardsComedian Tig Notaro is the star of a Sundance documentary premiere, host of its awards program
The Associated Press21 hours ago
'Ida' takes an unlikely road to the Academy AwardsThe twice-nominated 'Ida' takes an unlikely road to the Academy Awards
The Associated Press1 day ago
James Franco, a cast member in "I Am Michael," works the press line at the premiere of the film at the Eccles Theatre during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
James Franco tries to move beyond "The Interview"James Franco tries to move beyond "The Interview" at Sundance
The Associated Press1 day ago
Movie News