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American Reunion Review: Choke on This Nostalgia, Dicks

By Dustin Rowles | Film | April 6, 2012 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | April 6, 2012 |

It’s always fun to run into an old friend from college or high school, isn’t it? There’s a jolt of excitement, a wave of nostalgia, and about 20 minutes of harried catching up, condensing the last ten, 15, 20 years of your life into exciting generalities before you completely run out of steam and remember why you hadn’t kept up with that person in the first place. Then it gets a little awkward, there’s a few minutes of stammering, and promises to get together “sometime real soon” that you have absolutely no intention of keeping. Then you walk away, return to your life, and forget about the whole experience until they add you as a friend on Facebook and, after accepting for politeness’ sake, you immediately hide their status updates and wash your hand of the whole experience.

That’s American Reunion in a nutshell. It’s nice catching up, finding out what happened in the lives of the characters, and realizing that, ultimately, nothing’s really changed except for the size of their guts. After that, it’s mostly tedious, watching characters ruminate about their own past and clumsily attempting to recapture it. There are some sweet moments; I’m not, after all, immune to nostalgia, conjured largely by the waves of 90’s pansy rock, but American Reunion is less a new viewing experience and more of a loose remake of the previous movies with slightly older characters — it has, after all, only been nine years since American Wedding.

Jim and Michelle Levenstein (Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan) are in a sexual rut; they haven’t had much of a sex life since the arrival of their two year old. Oz (Chris Klein) is a national sportscaster dating a supermodel with whom he doesn’t have that much in common. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nichols) has a beard now, and he’s happily married to a lovely woman with whom he watches “Gossip Girl” and “The Real Housewives.” Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), for mysterious reasons, has been off the grid for years, and Stifler (Sean William Scott) is still Stifler: A douchebag manchild saddled with a permanent high-school mentality.

The guys all return for a oddly timed 13-year reunion, where Jim spurns the advances of a girl he used to babysit; Oz and Kevin deal with old flames (Mena Suvari and Tara Reid) with varying results; Finch develops a relationship with an ugly-girl-turned-hottie; and Stifler continues to do Stifler things, like take a dump in an beer cooler and try to sleep with high-school girls. The only genuine moment in the film, really, comes in a scene between Jim’s Dad and Stifler’s Mom smoking up together.

It’s all very familiar, and while there’s something to be said for revisiting old haunts, American Reunion might have been more successful if it’d had attempted to create new memories in the same locations instead of recreating the same old ones. But what do you expect? It’s an American Pie movie. We get older, but they stay the same age.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.