April 12, 2012

Movie Review: American Reunion

Way back in 1999 we were first introduced to the American Pie gang. Since then we have had two theatrical sequels and a few scarcely related direct to video sequels. The theatrical ones were pretty good and I never bothered with the others, which looked to be on par with the recent National Lampoon's offerings. Now we have the original gang back together and on the big screen, they have all gotten older, but that does not mean any of them have done any growing up.

To be honest, I remember quite enjoying the early entries, but the specific details of their content have escaped my mind. I just have not revisited them all that much. With that said, there are a few things that have remained in my memories with regards to the American Pie franchise, they were all on the nicely raunchy and decidedly R-rated side of the coin, Shannon Elizabeth's delightful exchange student, and most importantly the fact that it had a lot of heart.

It is the heart that has allowed this series to have any sort of staying power. You can be as raunchy as you want, but to be truly memorable and transcend the genre, you need to have characters to care about. This series has succeeded at doing that. So, going into American Reunion, I had those warm memories of fun characters in my mind helping me prepare to see what they have been up to after all these years.

Now, American Reunion is not really all that special a movie, taken on its own. It does, however, succeed at being a fun movie by playing two cards, familiarity and nostalgia. The nostalgia factor is a big one. The target audience are the now grown fans of the early entries. In a way we grew up over the same span they did and we see these characters now either benefiting or paying for the way they chose to live their lives, the same way we are. We watch these characters and long for the simpler times of high school and watch as they try to recapture their glory days. The nostalgia flows. Then you have the familiarity. This movie pushes no boundaries, it is a familiar set up that makes it easy for us to watch. It puts us at ease, allows us a reintroduction and helps the comedy flow from what we remember rather than having to listen to new  jokes.

There is not a lot to American Reunion. It really is the title. We meet the gang again, see where they are now, get them back to town for the reunion and see them get caught up in the same sort of hijinx they were into as teenagers. If you like the earlier films, you are going to like this. It has that mix of raunchy, over the top comedy, and genuine heart that made those earlier films so memorable and shows that it can still work.

I really don't want to go into a plot description of this movie, it really is quite simple. I enjoyed seeing the friends back together again. I liked seeing them reminisce. I liked the run in they have with the new class of high schoolers that has replaced them as they wonder if they were like that. I liked Jim and his interactions with known grown Kara, whom he used to baby sit for. I like the genuine relationship between Jim and Michelle. I like Stifler, the guy never let the party go. Really, I like a lot about this movie. It feels like hanging out with old friends and there is never anything wrong with that.



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