THIRTEEN years after American Pie first hit the big screen, directorial duo Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg prove that the franchise yet hasn’t passed its sell-by date. As they bring the fourth entry in the series, American Reunion, certificate 15, to cinemas.
All the principle cast return, including Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas and Sean William Scott once again plays the character that made him a household name, Steve Stifler.
The directing team, who previously worked on the Harold and Kumar series also wrote the film’s screenplay. Taking over from long-standing series screenwriter Adam Herz. In doing so, the two bring a much-needed feeling of freshness back to the franchise.
The plot sees the original film’s characters returning to their old high school in Michigan for a class reunion. Giving viewers the chance to see what happened to the everyone after they grew up.
The series central protagonist, Jim, played by Jason Biggs, is now a father. Since becoming a father Jim and his wife, Michelle, played by Alyson Hannigan, have begun to have some minor marital issues.
Both feel increasingly frustrated by the lack of any bedroom activities, they two hope the return home will allow them more time together and a chance to give their love life a much-needed boost.
Upon returning, they discover that Jim’s dad, played by Eugene Levy is still grieving from the death of his wife and Jim’s mother, three years earlier.
In a clever twist and reversal of roles from the first feature. Jim must now offer his father advice for getting back into the dating game. Levy is excellent and clearly has a ball with his character, enjoying more screen time than in any of the other instalments in the series. The actor steals the show and there is a genuine sweetness in his performance and interaction with his son.
Stifler fans fear not. The eternal man-child puts in a strong performance, delivering many of the film’s funnier one-liners. Sean William Scott has earned his trade within the frat house style comedies and his performance is as big and over-the-top as viewers will expect. One particular sequence between Stifler and Jim’s dad, at a house party is one of the features funniest moments.
Much like the recently restarted horror franchise, Scream. The film needed to up the ante within its own genre. Films such as Van Wilder and the two Hangover comedies raised the comedy bar. The film doesn’t disappoint with over the top, gross out comedy moments, including a memorable scene in which Stifler gets revenge on a group of cocky teenagers at the beach.
However, the directors have a real problem with the features female cast. Their simply isn’t very much for them to do, Hannigan’s character is the strongest female lead, yet her character is left with little to other, other than bemoan her relationship and complain about her lack of a sex life.
Many of the female roles, including Tara Reid’s character Vicky and especially Katrina Bowden’s Mia feel like little more than eye candy for the film’s viewers.
An attempt to parody the first film’s concept of losing virginity sees Jim’s neighbour, Kara played by the young Ali Cobrin, throwing herself at Jim. The young girl, he used to babysit, asks him to be her ‘first.’ It’s awkwardly funny at first but the idea is pushed too far and becomes a little uncomfortable, considering the age difference between the two characters.
Fans of the original American Pie will possibly enjoy this feature more than others. The director’s throws in several in-jokes within the film’s narrative.
Far from feeling stale and dated, this instalment in the American Pie franchise feels as fresh and new as the original. There are some minor gender politics issues and at times the film is a little sickly sweet. But never-the-less the feature is a laugh filled entry into the comedy genre. Welcome back, class of 1999.