Monday, 7 May 2012

Review: American Pie: Reunion

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

American Pie: Reunion poster

American Pie: Reunion
110 mins / Dir. Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg

Back in '99, while American Pie wasn't what I'd call a 'game-changer', it was at the forefront of ushering in a new wave of teen-comedies. Louder, brasher and cooler than those before it. But all these years later, has the franchise still got the heft to entertain? More importantly, does it still have anything to say?

The Plot: It's been thirteen years, and the East Great Falls Class of '99 are planning to get back together to compare notes and party. Along the way they discover that many things are different now, and that some things never change…

The Good: Seann William Scott and Eugene Levy, to be honest. Stifler is pretty much his old self, a swearing charmless oaf with a heart of gold, trying to fit in whilst trying not to look like he's trying. Although there are plenty of gags in the film, I found Stifler's to be the most engaging. Also on good form is Eugene Levy as Jim's Dad, now trying to come to terms with being a widower as well as a grandfather. His scenes are funny and often touching, and it's a shame that the bonding between Jim and his dad wasn't played up more, as it's pretty much the only character development in the whole film.

Elsewhere, the film is consistently amusing, if not laugh-out-loud hilarious, and there are some nicely executed farcical set-pieces. If you enjoyed the previous three instalments*1, then you already know what to expect, and you'll enjoy this. If you haven't seen the others, I'm not sure what you'll get out of AP:R, as the writers haven't really catered for you.

The Bad: Generally speaking, the film feels a bit forced. It spends a lot of time trying too hard, be it on the Outrageous Comedy™ or the overly sincere emotional plot-strands. There's not really a need for this film to exist, and the plot device of the school reunion is about as transparent as it gets. It feels like the makers of AP:R watched last year's Scream 4 and money-spinning nostalgia took control before anyone could point out that American Pie: The Wedding was pretty much a good point to close on. Still, AP:R works in that you laugh when you're meant to and roll your eyes when they try and make the characters look deep/troubled, but there's a feeling that renewing everyone's contracts one last time should have been for something more than this.

The Ugly: It gets a bit whiny and too much like hard work on more than one occasion. Messrs Herz, Hurwitz and Schlossberg appear to have looked at their slapstick, gross-out screenplay and thought: "You know what this needs? Some crying and handwringing to bring things the fuck down, a bit." And that's what they did. Pretty much all of the central characters arrive with their own baggage, which is fine, but there's not enough time in the film to deal with all the strands effectively, so there are a lot of forlorn glances and out-and-out fights that all seem to get neatly tied up at the end. Which isn't so fine. I wanted to enjoy the film more, but Stifler's idiot of a boss, Finch's arrest-and-bail scenario and Oz's idiot of a girlfriend threaten to frequently derail everything.

Worth £8+? In and of itself, not really, no. With the best will in the world, it's one of the most pointless revisits ever. Watch it on DVD with friends and drinks for best effect, but there's really nothing new here.


*1 I'm not including the straight-to-video spin-offs, but only because I haven't seen them, so I can't really comment.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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