By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
To paraphrase the song: “Bye, bye. Miss American Pie. Meant this sequel to be equal but the sequel was dry…”
Okay, apologies to Don McLean, it’s not much of a lyric. But, then, this isn’t much of a movie that we’re serenading.
The makers of the sequel, American Reunion, wanted to serve another slice of American Pie. But they had none of the necessary ingredients. Yet they went ahead and prepared it anyway.
This one’s not even half-baked.
American Reunion — also known overseas as American Pie: Reunion — is the fourth installment in the American Pie series, preceded by American Pie (1999), American Pie 2 (2001), and American Wedding (2003). There were several unofficial, straight-to-DVD sequels as well.
Given that the first three big-screen installments didn’t exactly set the comedy world on fire, it comprises an absolute warning to tell you that this one is by far the worst of the quartet.
So, following a progression (from high school to college to marriage to high school reunion) during which the characters aged, perhaps it’s time for the series to be put out of its misery, perhaps in something like American Euthanasia.
The popular series of R-rated teen comedies has mixed sexuality and sentimentality, sleaze and sweetness. Raunch and heart, à la carte.
For American Reunion, the cast of American Pie reunites as the members of the class of 1999 from the original offering return to East Great Falls for their 13th high school reunion, bringing along their dashed-dream disappointments and early-thirtysomething problems.
That means that Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Chris Klein, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Tara Ried, Shannon Elizabeth, Mena Suvari, John Cho, and Natasha Lyonne return to represent the younger-if-now-a-bit-older generation, while Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge also reprise their roles as their elders.
This gathering of familiar faces is the movie’s main attraction, and the makers act as if, now that they have gone to the trouble of rounding up all these performers and talked them into making return appearances, their work is done.
The culprits are writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay), who have performed their writing function with contemptible laziness, structuring their halfhearted, aimless script as if they were planning a reunion rather than shaping a narrative, while directing on automatic pilot.
As a result, the film depends so heavily on a loyal and forgiving audience’s familiarity with, and interest in, the characters that it barely even attempts to include a plot.
There are a few — precious few! — scattered chuckles. But mostly there is just nostalgia, a rehashing of the past, and a casual invitation to hang out for a while with these acquaintances and classmates before repairing to the parking lot and heading home.
Just like at a reunion.
All of which is a way of saying that this terrible movie should be of interest only to those already enamored of the franchise. And even they should leave their expectations at home.
So we’ll attend just 1 star out of 4. Maybe if American Reunion had more ambition or laughs, it wouldn’t matter as much that this class reunion has no class.