Film Review : American Reunion
● By Justin Buettner
American Reunion reunites the original cast for a 13 year high school class reunion. The previous two sequels to American Pie series went directly to video, so this also marks a return to the big screen for the long running franchise. The film centers around Jim and his group of high school friends as they try to relive the glory days of their youth while examining how their adult lives took much different paths than they thought when they were younger.
American Reunion had its moments that were funny and effective, however overall I found the whole experience as kind of sad and awkward. Much of what happens in the movie is a perfect illustration of why I never intend to go to my own high school reunion. The characters bemoan the fact life didn't turn out the way they had envisioned. All of them relive the what ifs or even act out moments of their past glories. In an ironic twist it feels as though all of the actors within the movie are reflections of the characters they are playing as their careers did not take off away from the franchise that launched them to stardom either.
Honestly I am not a fan of this series. I saw the first movie upon its release in 1999 but skipped the sequels. It would be fair to say that people that have followed this series will get more out of it than someone like me. There are a number of character and event references to the past films that people that know the series chuckled and clapped for that were just lost on me.
American Reunion had several parts that made me chuckle, and yes most of those were of the gross out/sex involved variety of comedy. However the movies best moments in my opinion were when it wasn't trying to be over the top with its comedy and dealt with issues that most people can relate to. There was a great scene between Jim and his father near the end of the film where Jim’s father gave him some sage advice on marriage that really hit the right note. I thought the scene between Jim and Michelle when they reunited at the reunion was actually very touching. It is too bad the movie didn't take itself a bit more seriously throughout.
There were some surprising decisions made by the filmmakers. The most glaring was their decision to have Alyson Hannigan go without make up. They went out of their way to show her age. As a major TV star on one of the most popular TV Shows How I Met Your Mother, Hannigan is perhaps the most successful acting alum from the American Pie series. That is why I found the decision to single her out as the actress they intentionally made to look older as curious. The heavy handed 90's soundtrack was not my favorite either. It matched the movie, but I didn't like many of those songs when they were new and time has not made them any better.
The story itself spread itself out to include too many characters and subplots of which half of them were rather boring. The movie would have served its audience better to focus on one character. The obvious choice would be Jim and his plight which was the strongest plot of the movie. However I think the writers could have made an interesting film centered around the Stiffler character and his rough transition from teenager to adult (which at age 30 something he has still not figured out). As it stands his character has the most obvious development at the end of the movie.
Overall I think fans of the series will appreciate this latest installment. It maintains the gross out humor the series is known for and half heatedly deals with issues that people face as adults. I actually enjoyed this movie much more than the original, but I have a feeling I may be in the minority on that opinion. I would be curious to see what the film what have looked like if had taken itself more seriously and didn't feel so beholden to its gross out humor roots or the obligation to flood the movie with countless cameos of past characters. Never the less the movie delivers enough laughs to be entertaining and adds a little heart for good measure.
Films like American Reunion : American Pie, The Hangover, and Porkey’s
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.