Being a reviewer in this, the "reboot" era, is sometimes an education in itself. Seeing films from one's earlier years, especially those that deal specifically with being young and stupid, and judging them again in the cold, harsh light of adulthood, is quite a frightening experience. Looking back on the American Pie series now, especially for someone who wasn't a huge fan to begin with, paints a rather distressing picture of teen life in the late 90s.
Before I start being labelled a snob or a conservative, I should point out that I am quite partial to the "gross-out" genre, when done a certain way. The ongoing adventures of Harold & Kumar (the creators of which directed this latest addition to the American Pie saga), for example, are perfectly acceptable, even good examples of the self-referential absurdity needed to pull this genre off. Early Ryan Reynolds vehicle Van Wilder: Party Liason also contained enough charm and unexpected wit to be at least semi-appealing. My problem with the American Pie franchise is that it has always tried to balance societal comment with obscene comedy and managed to achieve neither.
So here we are, nearly a decade since the last proper installation of the franchise (there have been several equally risible straight-to-DVD spin-offs) and the gang have moved on. Jim (Jason Biggs) & Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are married with a kid. Oz (Chris Klein) is a celebrity sports reporter, Kevin is an architect and Finch has disappeared. A 10-year reunion, however, brings them all back together for the usual brand of puerile hi-jinx.
For the most part, American Reunion is a piece of harmless fun, the cast work well together, with time eroding none of chemistry between them. The apparently ageless Alyson Hannigan plays a particularly good game, her performance layered with all of the issues and potential regret that dominate the minds of those bidding farewell to their 20s.
Unfortunately as likeable and relatable as the characters and situation are, the comedy is distinctly hit and miss, with more misses than hits. Ten years ago, Stifler defecating in a cooler would have illicited guffaws worldwide and been talked about as a classic comedy moment, but instead seems tired and dated in this age of post-post-modern comedy.
Unlike its horror equivalent, Scream 4, American Pie: Reunion misses a golden opportunity to deconstruct the genre that the original virtually created 13 years ago. Instead, it's just another member of that genre, swimming adrift in an endless sea of crass jokes and obvious set pieces. Not a bad film, by any means, but this slice of pie is all pastry, no filling.
Overall Verdict: A decent coming of age comedy with some memorable moments, but when taken as a whole, it just doesn't provide enough consistent quality to be anything other than just another genre piece.
Reviewer: Alex Hall