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American Reunion

May 21, 2012

American Reunion (2012)
Directors: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Actors: Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Eugene Levy

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Synopsis: The old gang from East Great Falls High School head back to town for the 13 year reunion. The usual relationship dramas and gross-out moments ensue…

Review: The ultimate Frat Boys franchise returns, this time finding the guys heading back to high school for their thirteen year reunion, and it essentially recycles the same jokes and narrative arc from the previous three features – except with (supposedly) thirty-something character dilemmas.

Ironically, what this latest instalment to the American Pie series reveals is just how deceptively sentimental and conservative the franchise actually is, beneath its facade of sexual bawdiness. The film is meant to be a celebration of the guys getting together and dabbling in the nostalgia of their misspent youth, before realising that it’s a halcyonic experience best left to the past and that they must reconcile themselves to being responsible adult citizens – even if that means dealing with difficult (borderline mediocre) adult relationships and slogging on in their careers. A couple of times I wanted to scream out to the characters that they’re only just past thirty and hardly the middle-aged bores the movie makes them out to be, and it’s interesting that the couple of times the narrative veers into that probing territory where perhaps these guys’ lives haven’t quite turned out the way they might have hoped, it manufactures neat, trivial resolutions to fudge these dilemmas. So when Jim is tempted from his sexless marriage by the stunning teen next-door, a simple cutesy sequence of dialogue (stolen from Before Sunrise) where Jim and Michelle roll-play ‘meeting cute’ again is supposed to paper over all those cracks. Then there’s the actually quite clever twist that Finch has lied about all the great bohemian travelling tales he’s been regaling his friends with. Never mind, because he still gets the girl and is reassured that having those aspirations is the most important thing! And most frustratingly of all, the great Stifler – easily American Pie’s most captivating and amusing character – is interestingly revealed to be a bit of a drop-out, barely holding down a temp job and still living at home, before the narrative resolves that potentially weighty obstacle by have Stifler resort to boorish type and simply resign from his position by mocking the size of his boss’s dick and threatening to beat him up. While to some extent it’s an understandable resolution in valorising Stifler’s jock bravado, it would be fascinating to go back to Stifler’s life after the story closes to see how this confidence-trickster would actually try to build a life.

Away from the more serious elements, American Reunion is a predictable box-of-tricks with its gross-out moments. The filmmakers do however make the wise decision to get the franchise’s two best characters – Stifler and Jim’s dad – together for an amusing binge-drinking session, and Seann William Scott’s portrayal of Stifler is still a comic tour de force, especially when trying to slime up to teenage girls at a midnight lake party. (May 2012)

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