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

Hollywood golden age actress Sally Forrest dies at 86Sally Forrest, actress and dancer of Hollywood's golden age, dies of cancer at 86
The Associated Press31 minutes ago
Mexico City businesses cite losses during Bond filmingMexico City businesses complain of losses during 007 filming in historic downtown district
The Associated Press39 minutes ago
Schwarzenegger's back for high-octane 'Terminator: Genisys'Arnold Schwarzenegger's back for high-octane, blockbuster hopeful 'Terminator: Genisys"
The Associated Press13 minutes ago
FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2015 file photo, director Sam Taylor-Johnson, left, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson attend a special fan screening of "Fifty Shades of Grey" hosted by The Today Show at the Ziegfeld Theatre, in New York. Sam Taylor-Johnson will not be returning to direct the sequels to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” she announced Wednesday night, March 25, 2015. “Directing 'Fifty Shades of Grey' has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful,” she said in a statement to industry site Deadline in which she thanked Universal Pictures. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
'Fifty Shades' director Taylor-Johnson bows out of franchise'Fifty Shades of Grey' director Sam Taylor-Johnson bows out of franchise
The Associated Press4 hours ago
Tunisians assure Star Wars sets safe from Islamic StateTunisia maintains Star Wars sets under no threat from Islamic State after spate of reports
The Associated Press8 hours ago
Movie News