Fourth Slice Of ‘Pie’ A Worthless, Humorless Affair
By STEWART SMITH
Why does "American Reunion" exist?
I asked more or less the same question about "Wrath of the Titans" last week, but at least the justification can be made that people will always want to watch movies about monsters and swords and epic imagery. Why anyone would want to continue to follow the misadventures of Jim and the rest of the "American Pie" crew is beyond me. A more white bread collection of "comedic" characters you're not likely to find.
"American Reunion" exists because apparently the producers felt that there are people who do in fact want to continue to follow said characters, I'm curious who those people are. The first "American Pie" came out the summer before my senior year of high school. Ostensibly, I'm one of the very people that should be clamoring to see what these guys are up to.
I haven't seen it in years, but I remember the original film well enough. It had an affable (if nave, in retrospect) charm about it. It wasn't some sort of generational classic in the vein of, say, "Porky's," but it was fine enough for what it was. After the success of the first sequel, though, it sort of turned into its own brand, with direct-to-DVD spinoffs being labeled as "American Pie Presents..." but featuring only Eugene Levy's character occasionally appearing so as to marginally connect the films. It's just sort of strange to look back on that first film and remember a time when Jason Biggs was primed to become a rising comedy presence and Tara Reid hadn't yet undergone a dozen unfortunate plastic surgeries. I imagine Thomas Ian Nicholas was probably certain he wouldn't be relying on residuals from this and "Rookie of the Year" to keep him afloat. A much simpler, more nave time, indeed.
The point is that in this now fourth theatrical feature, we pick up about four years or so after Jim (Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) got married in "American Wedding." Each member of the gang has moved on with their lives, though none of them are particularly happy. Jim works a non-descript office job and is having intimacy issues with Michelle. Oz (Chris Klein) hosts a mid-level daytime sports talk show on cable TV and has a superficial, swimsuit model girlfriend. Kevin (Nicholas) is stuck at home struggling to find work while his wife is the breadwinner (who also makes him watch "The Bachelorette" and "Real Housewives"). Stiffler (Seann William Scott) is a corporate flunkie. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) rides motorcycles around the world while still acting like a smarmy pseudo-intellectual. And now they've all converged in their hometown for their 13 year (yeah, I don't get it either) high school reunion and thus forced to compare their sad sack existences.
The point is that we're supposed to feel sorry for most of these guys as their lives haven't turned out quite how they wanted. I guess. Or something like that. I just have a hard time feeling sympathy for upper-middle class guys who have nice things and families when their worst problems seem to be a lack of spousal communication or being forced to watch bad television shows.
This movie wouldn't have been such a colossal failure, though, if the entire thing wasn't predicated on us feeling sympathy and nostalgia for these characters. Maybe if there was something resembling jokes knocking about in here it would have been bearable putting up with these whiny simps, but as it stands I lasted an hour in the film before I walked out in complete frustration and utter contempt for what was in front of me.
Yes, that's right. Walked out. Congratulations, "American Reunion," you've earned the dubious honor of being the only movie since "Grown Ups" to make me walk out of a screening.
I'm not proud of this, in fact I kind of hate it. But such was the unbearable nature of this movie, so bereft was it of humor or even so much as a single likable character.
Well, I take that back. Eugene Levy dutifully reprises his role as Jim's dad and he's the only one who seems to ever make the best of the truly horrible script.
Everyone else? I wanted to watch them burn. I kept hoping that something bizarre or random would happen, say, a dangling piano crash down upon the cast or perhaps an anvil or a strategically executed car bombing. All of these things would be preferable than having to spend an extra second around these insufferable characters.
"American Reunion" is hate on a movie screen.
Grade: Kill It With Fire
Stewart Smith is the Entertainment Editor for the
Tyler Morning Telegraph
. Contact him at 903-596-6301 or by e-mail at ssmith@tylerpa per.com.