Movie Review: American Reunion


No one, and I mean no one, has asked me what Tara Reid, or Jason Biggs for that matter, has been up to. But a case can be made that the original "American Pie," the 1999 comedy from Chris and Paul Weitz in which an American high school student had sexual relations with pastry, was a cultural touchstone and a rite of passage for the '90s generation, even if the brothers ripped off author Philip Roth and his American cultural touchstone "Portnoy's Complaint."

The original film, which spawned two sequels and a couple of direct-to-video films, has now given birth to an attempted reboot with the original cast, and it is not half bad.

This new "Pie" begins with a raucous scene involving "out of sync," self-pleasuring parents Jim Levenstein (Biggs) and wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). Raunchy, lewd and unabashedly slapstick-y (a laptop closing on a tender male body part), the opening sets the tone.

Stifler (the very talented Seann William Scott) is back, living with his still-sexy mother (Jennifer Coolidge) and working as a temp for a short, obnoxious Asian executive (Vik Sahay) tailor-made for the amusement of this film's frat-boy audience.

The plot, which repeats the beats and, in some cases, the scenes of the original, centers around a 13th-year high school reunion weekend and the male-bonding rituals leading up to it. These include a lakeside birthday party, featuring high-school-age girls in tiny bikinis.

Producers the Weitz brothers and directors, co-writers and "Harold & Kumar" auteurs Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg obviously have visions of a new comedy franchise along the lines of "The Hangover" and "Harold & Kumar," and they have largely succeeded in setting it up.

This is one "Reunion" worth attending. Stifler, whose grotesquely perverse, machine-gun profanities are some of the film's greatest and most outrageous assets, is the ribald comic giant of these "Pie" movies. Chris Klein's Chris "Oz" Ostreicher is a buff, minor sports-news celebrity and has been on "Dancing With the Stars." He has a hot if also trashy girlfriend (Katrina Bowden), but when he is reunited with Heather (Mena Suvari), his heart sings even though she has an amusingly hostile surgeon-boyfriend (Jay Harrington). The laid-back Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is still laid-back, if a bit thicker, and claims to have been touring South America on a motorcycle. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a stay-at-home husband, but he still has a thing for Vicky (Reid).

Eugene Levy is also back as Jim's now widowed father, who is as eager as ever to bestow paternal wisdom. Toss in a nude, barely-18-year-old girl (Ali Cobrin), Harold himself (John Cho) returning as Guy #2, cameos by Chad Ochocinco, Neil Patrick Harris and Shannon Elizabeth, a see-through pot lid and several gratuitous gay jokes, and, while you "can't go home again," you can have your "Pie" one more time.

("American Reunion" contains nudity, profanity, drug use and lewd language.)

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