Nostalgia is a wonderful thing; an existential tool to affirm one’s life. In recalling the good old times we find comfort, safe in the knowledge that our existence has had value. Following in the recent trend of rehashing movie franchises of years gone by, the American Pie gang return to our screens to awaken those dormant memories with American Pie: Reunion. The result is a disinteresting, formulaic sequel.
The original American Pie was a success because it just so happened to be the coming-of-age movie for a generation. It appealed to an audience because it was risqué, a gross-out comedy of no real cinematic worth. Pre-adolescent teens viewed it with one eye closed because they knew they shouldn’t be watching and its plot concerned the most curious subject imaginable when you were of a certain age – losing your virginity. Like the characters, that original audience have become adults – the difference is we’ve grown wiser. The curiosities have gone and the frailties of a bloated franchise are obvious to see.
All the players are back, halting their dwindling careers for one last slice. The once star of a Woody Allen film Jason Biggs provides full frontal nudity to audience gasps rather than laughs, while Tara Reid, once star of the Big Brother house, returns with all the other cast members. Each old character is introduced throughout to tickle those wistful memories as a reunion back at East Great Falls takes place. They’re either married or in menial jobs, although Stifler (Seann William Scott) has failed to mature, and they’re back together for another crude shin-dig peppered by slap-stick incidents.
It’s a wildly unoriginal premise, only made bearable by the familiarity of the characters. The film does have a kitsch value for those happy to reminisce about the late-nineties, and the odd rogue smirk may haplessly appear thanks to the traditionally boorish pubic hair and caught-masturbating gags. The raunchiness does tread a thin line, especially when the gang of now thirty-somethings attend a high-school party and gawp at (explicitly eighteen year-old) girls. Heart-warming moments appear contrived as Oz (Chris Klein) and Heather (Mena Suvari) rekindle their ancient romance while Stifler depressingly struggles to come to terms with his outlandish ways in the world of business.
The film’s capacious downfall is that it fails to add anything fresh. Rather than being American Pie for a new generation, it’s a stale re-heat for the old. At least Mr. Levenstein’s (Eugene Levy) eyebrows are still wondrously dense, and Stifler’s Mom (Jennifer Coolidge) is still sprawled out on a chaise lounge but there’s nothing new. American Pie has had its reunion, and so has the pop group Steps… maybe nostalgia is not such a wonderful thing after all.