It’s been 13 years since the first American Pie was released. In the interim some planes have flown into the World Trade Centre, America has gained its first black president and all of the money has gone. All of it.
In the sleepy community of East Great Falls, however, things remain distinctly untouched by global events. The class of ’99 is back in town for one weekend to celebrate its reunion, which seems a suitably contrived plot device on which to base the first ‘canon’ film in the American Pie franchise since 2003.
American Pie: Reunion pulls the original cast back together for one last hurrah, attempting to show the ways in which the characters we first encountered as pastry-romancing teens have grown up and moved on. Or rather haven’t.
Jim (Jason Biggs) is married and going through a sexual dry patch; his friend Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is similarly hitched, although he lives a neutered life which largely involves watching reality shows with his wife. Stifler (Seann William Scott) has stagnated, working as a temp while madly clinging to his high school persona. It seems odd that no one points out that he is clearly a man in the middle of a mental breakdown. Although perhaps they’ve all been briefed. They must humour him, or he will disintegrate. It’s like The Truman Show meets Good Bye, Lenin!
The main male quintet is completed by Oz (Chris Klein) who has become a sort of rubbish TV presenter, and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) who remains as mysteriously pretentious as ever. Or does he? Yes, he does.
Part of the fun of the film is derived from considering the career trajectories of each actor after they were first ejaculated into the spotlight as teenagers. Alyson Hannigan and Seann William Scott have enjoyed arguably the best post-Pie careers. Meanwhile the other players have, perhaps deservedly, sat in pop-culture limbo for more than a decade; notorious for certain extra-curricular activities (Chris Klein’s Mama Mia audition tape, Tara Reid’s excesses) but with little actual work to show for it.
As a broad comedy the film is perfectly adequate for the genre. There are some nice moments of farce, although several scenes feel recycled from earlier movies. This could all be part of the fan service, but it is difficult to discount the possibility that there are only so many ways you can get a man to hurt his genitals on screen.
The biggest problems are the Apatowian length and the oddly melancholic tone, which in itself is another symptom of making a comedy movie in a post-40 Year Old Virgin/Knocked Up world. If it was knocked down to a tight 90 minutes and avoided some of the more self-reflective elements, the spectre of the original wouldn’t feel quite so distant.
American Pie: Reunion skirts around poignancy thanks to some surprisingly tender acting from Eugene Levy, and anyone who watched the original will doubtlessly be happy to spend another two hours with this imperfect group. But in reality this slice of nostalgia has been left to cool on your mum’s windowsill for too long. You could say it was pie time that it was re-pie-ered.