American Pie: Reunion

What it's about:

Jim, Stifler, Oz, Michelle and the rest of the American Pie gang reunite at their old hunting grounds for their thirteen-year school reunion where they find that however much has changed for them over the years, some things can't help but stay the same.

What we thought:

Being in matric (our equivalent of the US' "senior year") and 17 years old at the time, I was at exactly the right age to get the most out of the original American Pie movie when it hit our screens way, way back in 1999. Not only was I the exact target audience for the film, I was also the same age and at the same point in my life as the main characters in the film.

And now, thirteen years later and at the horrifyingly old age of thirty, I am still the same age as these characters and, though my life circumstances are not precisely the same as any of the old American Pie gang, I certainly can relate to pretty much all of them.

What this means then is that I can't help but approach American Pie: Reunion (or simply American Reunion, if the opening credits of the version of the film I saw are anything to go by) with an equal amount of bias and nostalgia, effectively putting me in a position to get as much out of this film as there is possible to get.

It's a stretch to say that American Pie is anywhere near the top of the list of my favourite films, but it's still a movie for which I have a tremendous amount of affection (nostalgic or otherwise) so it's tempting not to bump this sequel's rating up by a star or two purely based on how well and how unashamedly it plays on the memories of those of us who were there the first time around.

Still, putting aside (or at least attempting to put aside) those rose-coloured glasses, there is still plenty to love about this particular Reunion, even for the uninitiated. In fact, it's only the inevitable messiness of the storytelling that keeps the film from an even higher rating.

It does fare better than one could reasonably expect of devoting time to its seven main characters, a boatload of supporting characters and cameo appearances, but American Reunion is still a fairly bitty experience, with its pace and running time struggling to keep up with the sheer amount of story, jokes and nods to the past that it attempts to stuff in a still fairly long two-hour running time.

Never is this more obvious than the film's failure to do any sort of justice to a storyline involving Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and his old flame, Vicky (Tara Reid) to the point that, despite their being two of the series' major stars, the film would have lost nothing by dropping them entirely.

Other than that though, American Pie: Reunion is a fairly surprising success. With the creators of the very funny Harold and Kumar films (well, the first one at least) taking the reins this time around, Reunion may well be the funniest American Pie film since the first one - and it's almost definitely the one with the most John Cho, which is never a bad thing.

It certainly delivers more laughs in five minutes than all those dreadful direct-to-DVD American Pie: Presents spin-off films combined. Needless to say, the humour here is primarily of the gross-out (especially when it focuses on Sean William Scott's Stifler) or uncomfortable sexual situations (when the film turns to Jason Biggs' Jim) variety, but a) this is American Pie we're talking about here, not Annie Hall and b) for all the films that may have followed in its footsteps, few comedies do this stuff better than the American Pie series.

It's especially easy to appreciate how good this latest American Pie is when you consider its been released in the aftermath of the truly woeful Project X stinking up our cinemas for the last month or so. Project X clearly draws heavily from the first American Pie – as do most heavily sexualised American teenage comedies that have been released since – but it took a formula that Reunion at least partially uses for plenty of laughs and turned it into something truly spiteful, truly poisonous and unforgivably unfunny.

American Pie: Reunion is crude, yes, but it is also frequently hilarious and, crucially, incredibly sweet and warm-hearted. And that, more than anything else, more even than the tremendously likable and talented cast (all of whom are back this time around), is the secret to the series' enduring success - a success that American Pie: Reunion proudly maintains all these years later.     

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24