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‘American Reunion’ a hilarious tale of sex jokes, nudity, nostalgia, and growing up

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The first scene of ‘American Reunion’ shows clothes sprawled across a bedroom, R. Kelly’s ‘Bump N’ Grind’ in the background, and a bed is rocking. Naturally, you would  get the feeling that you’re watching one of the previous three installments of the ‘American Pie’ franchise.

And you would be half right. The bed rocking turns out to be none other than band geek Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). The only rocking she’s doing these days is when she’s with her two-year old son Evan. Meanwhile, everybody’s favorite sex perv Jim (Jason Biggs) is seemingly working on his laptop, trying to get his other half ‘in the mood.’ When Michelle goes to ‘take a bath,’ Jim turns off the iPod, whips out the old tube sock along with some lube to go with it, and as you probably expected, the end result is a complete mess (no pun intended). This time, however, Jim is interrupted by Evan, and the tone of the movie is set.American Reunion photo: latino-review.com

It’s been 13 years since the gang graduated from Great East Falls High School when they all decide to come home for their (13-year ?) reunion. Some things are the same, while some things are different- or are they?

Turns out the reason why Jim reverts back to his ‘old ways’ is because he and Michelle seem to have lost that lovin’ feelin,’ which has become a source of friction between the two. What doesn’t help matters is Jim’s old next door neighbor Kara, who is now 18, all grown up and looking for that special someone. While back home, Jim is also helping his dad (Eugene Levy) get back into the dating scene while he still grieves over the loss of his mother.

As for the rest of the crew, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), as you probably expected, is married and absolutely whipped. Oz (Chris Klein) is the ex-jock who now hosts a sports talk show (which featured an appearance by Chad Ochocinco) and has the trophy girlfriend (Katrina Bowden) (He even had a guest appearance on a reality show as a hip hop dancer!)  And as for Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), well.....nobody really knows what Finch has been up to, except for Finch. And last but not least, there’s Stifler (Seann William Scott), who is still his sexually harassing, ball-busting self while working as a temp. However, the shoe is now on the other foot, as his condescending boss is now the one taking pot shots at him.

When the group meets up at a local bar to catch up, they unexpectedly run into Stifler, who didn’t expect anyone to show up for the reunion, but nonetheless joins them to catch up and becomes determined to make the weekend memorable. While on the beach the next day, Oz bumps into his old flame Heather (Mena Suvari), who is now dating a narcissistic doctor. Later on, Kevin also runs into his old flame Vicky (Tara Reid), and possibilities of rekindled love ensue amongst some of the parties involved. There’s lots of questions to be answered in just a few days. It all comes to a head at the reunion, where the truth comes out and everybody’s cards are laid out on the table.

What ‘American Reunion’ does spectacularly is offer moments reminiscent of the first three films while presenting the real-life scenarios and struggles that all young adults face (ie- the gang) as they go through life: Marriage, children, temptation, loneliness, your place in the world, letting go, and even death. It’s harder for some to move on (Stifler), while others (Oz) want something more. Either way, everyone has baggage, but they just hide it better than some of the others. However, just when you think the movie is taking itself too seriously, you’re offered some full frontal nudity, am aborted sex romp involving leather and chains, one of Stifler’s legendary parties, and a pretty offensive (but still humorous) scene involving him and a beer cooler.

While protagonist Biggs offers his usual solid performance in the role of Jim, by now it’s obvious to all the glue that holds (no pun intended) these movies together is the duo of Seann William Scott and Eugene Levy. The moment you see Stifler, you can’t but help grin sheepishly knowing that something really interesting is about to go down involving him, the group, or with one of his antagonists. Furthermore, it was good to see his character exact some revenge of his own in this movie (don’t worry, I won’t say with whom or with what). Levy is nothing short of a comedic genius. And while he still offers plenty of laughs (especially with Stifler’s mom, played once again by Jennifer Coolidge), some of the film’s more touching moments occur in Levy's scenes with Biggs. Although he offers his usual yet uncomfortable words of encouragement to his son, this time Jim is the one offering his dad most of the advice.   

After several of the key characters were missing from ‘American Wedding,’ it was fun to see the entire cast return for what will likely be the final installment of the series. And although the brief cameos featuring Natasha Lyonne and (always easy on the eyes) Shannon Elizabeth felt a little forced, the addition of Dania Ramirez as Finch’s love interest and Michelle’s band camp friend Selena breathes some new life into the cast.

While obviously not as fresh or groundbreaking as the original, ‘American Reunion’ is a solid attempt at one last go-round for Great East Falls High School Class of 1999. You’ll laugh, feel nostalgic, and when it’s over, you’ll realize how easy things really were 13 years ago.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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