We all have a friend like Stifler; that guy that just refuses to grow up, who you know will try to keep the party going long after he attends his last fraternity party. Like a 30-something year old on spring break, American Reunion tries to fight the inevitable and as expected, has mixed results.
The opening scene carries with it a sense of nostalgia, as we are reintroduced to each of the characters one by one. Jim and Michelle are married with a kid. Oz is now a famous sports broadcaster. Kevin is a happily married, work-from-home architect. Finch is missing in action. Stifler is, well, still Stifler.
As one would expect, the East Great Falls high school reunion finds each of the characters reconnect with their old flames and tempted by new ones. Jim fights the urge to cheat with an 18 year old he used to babysit while Oz reconnects with Mia. Finch slowly falls for the ugly-duckling-turned-swan Selena, and Kevin runs into Vicky and begins to feel old feelings. As each of the guys begins reliving his past, the hilarity quickly ensues as the gang finds themselves in all too familiar scenes of sex, drugs, and embarrassing situations.
Obviously, it is these scenes that make the movie. Each old joke is rehashed and cherished, and at least a dozen times I heard the college-age audience laugh with delight at the memory of these corresponding moments found in the first three films of the American Pie franchise. But this is a double edged sword; Stifler's mom, warm apple pie, and the flute at band camp are lost on some of American Reunion's younger viewers. The film relies so much on its old gags that it forgets to make new ones.
Luckily, Jim and his dad Noah have their perpetually awkward discussions on the finer points of life, which take somewhat more meaningful and serious overtones in Reunion. This subtle addition helps to ground the potty humor and sexual innuendos and give the film more than one dimension. Not to say that the humor isn't funny; Sean William Scott steals the show as Stifler, providing more laughs and silly scenarios with his old high school friends than one can count while struggling in a battle against maturity.
With the humor of the first three movies relying mostly on the naivety and youthful nature of the young cast, American Reunion is charged with the almost impossible task of keeping the same humor relevant 13 years later with a matured cast, and though not perfect, it succeeds. Without giving any spoilers away, the film ultimately ends with our gang righting the ship as expected, and each of the characters finds his or her "next step" will be in the right direction. Though formulaic, American Reunion succeeds in making audiences laugh while feeling nostalgic, serving as a fitting end to the franchise.
(Two-and-a-half out of four stars)