From left, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein and Eddie Kaye Thomas in a scene from "American Reunion." / Hopper Stone/Universal Pictures
Two and a half stars (out of four)
You will be redirected to the page you want to view in seconds.
Two and a half stars (out of four)
Can you be nostalgic for something you didn't really care that much about in the first place?
Sure. What else explains KISS still selling enough tickets to tour continuously?
The people behind "American Reunion," which reunites the original cast of "American Pie," are counting on just such a feeling of fondness for the past, of good memories of a film that was dirtier than it was good (though that doesn't mean it wasn't funny). Of course, many folks are more devoted to "American Pie" than I am. The 1999 film, a surprise hit, helped kick off a revival of R-rated comedies, and for that, it should be saluted.
"American Reunion," written and directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, catches up with the characters 13 years later, and it's sort of like visiting your hometown and running into that kid you kind of, sort of knew in high school. You weren't asking for an update, but it's pleasant enough to get one.
The gang's all here, and descending on East Great Falls for a 13th high-school reunion. (Why 13? Who knows? If that's the kind of detail you get hung up on, this is probably not the movie for you.) Jim and Michelle (Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan) are now married with a son, and while Jim's raunchy exploits from the first film are, in the movie's universe, the stuff of viral YouTube legend, the seemingly happy couple's relationship has lost its romance — which, again in this movie's universe, means they no longer have sex.
Meanwhile Oz (Chris Klein) is an anchor for an ESPN-like network and a former contestant on a "Dancing with the Stars"-like competition. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a househusband, Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) a bohemian world traveler, Heather (Mena Suvari) a doctor, Vicky (Tara Reid) a businesswoman and Stifler (Seann William Scott) ... well, he's still Stifler, profane and insane.
Like Jim and Michelle, everyone's lives are not as happy as they seem, and, as must happen in all reunion movies, their problems will be smoothed out by the end of the weekend, but not before being exacerbated first. Trouble arrives in many forms, most notably in the admirable form of Kara (Ali Corbin), the formerly little girl who lives next door to Jim's dad (Eugene Levy) for whom Jim babysat, and is now all grown up. Or almost; she's turning 18, and is looking to lose her virginity, identifying Jim as a prime candidate for the job.
This echoes, of course, the first film, in which Jim, Finch, Oz and Kevin seek to lose their virginity, and is just one of many callbacks to the original. Stifler's mom (Jennifer Coolidge) is still around, for instance, and there is an amusing twist on what happened with her the first time around.
There are, in fact, a few amusing bits, if not a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. And there is also a sweetness. There's nothing new here — "American Reunion" really is at heart a pat take on the high-school reunion movie — but the characters genuinely like each other and welcome a chance to get together again. Some, like Jim and Michelle, are likable (Hannigan remains especially game). Some aren't, particularly (sorry, Tara Reid, though her character is sorely underwritten).
And Stifler ... well, again, he's still Stifler. Scott brings a certain unhinged insanity to his roles, and it's welcome here.
But, if "American Pie" rekindled our love for R-rated comedy, Judd Apatow's stable of films like "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up" and all the rest raised the bar for them. The raunch-with-heart stories have been told many times since the original, and told better. "American Reunion" depends more on the audience's feelings for recognizable characters than telling an original story, so adjust your expectations accordingly.