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Sunday, 29 April 2012


"Services? Like what? A happy ending? 'Cause I won't go there. I don't need that kind of massage, Jim."
-Jim's Dad. 

Sequels aren't a problem if you get the angles right, if you know what to do with the characters. That's something that 'American Pie: Reunion' immediately got right. 

The writing and directing team of Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (who wrote all three 'Harold and Kumar' movies, directing the second) brought some much needed freshness to the franchise.

How do you bring freshness to a franchise? It's about making decisions. In terms of the original cast, they skilfully managed to include everybody by not actually including everybody. What I mean is that the characters either got a key storyline, or they were reduced to a simple cameo. A perfect example is Natasha Lyonne. In the original 'American Pie' she was pivotal, here she's a thirty second cameo. Same for Shannon Elizabeth as Nadia. 

They got this wrong in the previous films. Characters lingered and it was pointless, like Kevin in the third movie, and Oz and Heather in the second film
Luckily, the ten year hiatus has done Oz and Heather some good. The rekindling of the relationship is one of the sweetest parts of the movie. Predictable? Perhaps. But when you hear Bic Runga's 'Sway', you're absolutely sold.

But this film belongs to Eugene Levy as Jim's Dad. Levy is masterful. Most surprising is his vulnerability after the passing of his wife. It elicits true, humble emotion, and you'll do well to keep a few tears from falling. This film is about the years passing and dreams not being fulfilled. We got most of the access to that theme through Jim and his friends, but it's truest of all with Mr Levenstein. That's what happens when you're invested in the characters. When you see them ageing, you realise you're ageing too. The characters have lost ten years, they've lost loved ones, they've lost a layer of innocence; and so have we. None of us escaped the last ten years. Isn't that scary? That's why I love 'American Pie' and that's why I loved this movie; because as crazy-insane as they are, they're rooted in something real, something we can understand, something we feel

There's also a great performance from John Cho, who reprises his role as the MILF guy, to hilarious effect. Schlossberg and Hurwitz could have overcooked it, being that he's the 'Harold and Kumar' guy, but luckily it's mostly underplayed and quietly, subtly hilarious.

Like I've written about the previous sequels; the success of new additions rely heavily on strong ideas. At times, 'American Reunion' struggles to raise strong laughs. But then again, I watched the film in a room full of journalists who were all in their fifties. This movie isn't made for 50 year old guys who take a notepad and pen to the cinema. It's made for people like you and me who just long to connect.  We want characters that ARE us. That's why I'm not swayed by some of the negative reviews of this film - because it's not a film you're meant to break down and analyse, you're just meant to enjoy it. It'll either resonate, or it won't. If it does, like it did with me, you'll have a blast.

If you're a fan of the previous films, then go see it. If anything, it's just good to see the old gang again. There are enough laugh out loud moments, mixed with the sincerity and heart that endeared the franchise to everyone in the first place.

There is something about the pairing of Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan that
really works. They're such oddballs, and they're so like us! That's the problem with most movies. You look up at the likes of Megan Fox, or the Twilight dude, and you don't see yourself. Jim, despite all his perversions, has a giant beating heart; and you can't help but love him. Hannigan is wonderful at taking a very annoying character and somehow making her relatable, even lovable.

It's the 4th film in the franchise (8th if you include the straight to DVD releases). Should they have made it? Yeah! It's FUN! And it's great to see all the characters again. They handled this movie in the right way. It was steeped in nostalgia and in-jokes, yet at the same time, it had a freshness and a joyfulness which lifted it above many other films in the series. The most important thing, for me, is that I had a smile on my face throughout the thing. What more could you want?

American Pie: Reunion' is released in the UK on May 2nd 2012.

Care to share?


  1. I've never been interested in the American Pie franchise but I've enjoyed reading your reviews. Your love for these films is clear and it influences your writing in a great way.

  2. I was SO excited for this movie, but I thought it missed the mark.

    There were several scenes that ran way longer then they should have (father-son talk about married sex), missed opportunities for really good jokes (when Stifler quits), and just too-slow of pacing throughout. You always say that quicker is funnier, and I really felt that Hurwitz could have used that advice in his directing.

    That said, it was nice to see the gang together again, and you're right about the soundtrack--loved it. I just wish it had been a little better executed. :(

  3. I think they handled this Movie wonderfully, almost exactly how I would have wanted. I didn't even mind how long it was. So glad all the cast made a return and the cameos were handled very well. I think those of us that saw the movie at around 18 (as the cast where then) and are 30 now can really relate to this silly but loveable account of the ageing process. In short, I'm in agreement with this review.


    Although in hindsight it was an obvious joke, the whole thing with Stifler and Finch's Mom caught me off guard and I thought it was hilarious.