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American Reunion

April 12, 2012
American Reunion

Did you ever see Dazed & Confused? Other than being a pretty solid 1970s period piece, it’s got some pretty memorable characters. In particular, Matthew McConaughey plays this guy years out of high school who keeps hanging around. He peaked back then; he can’t bear to move on. And so he just grows older and sketchier while never getting quite bad enough to be universally driven away. If that old, sketchy guy hanging around long past his time was a movie, he’d be American Reunion.

And, coincidentally enough, it’s got its own version of this character in — naturally — Stifler. But you could have predicted that much. In fact, you could predict pretty much everything the movie has to offer: fading marriages, ill-considered relationships, old flames, prevarications, gratuitous nudity to titillate (female) and humiliate (male), Stifler’s Mom, Jim’s Dad…

It’s so boring and clunky that I’m at a loss to go on much more about it. American Pie was good enough as the millennial answer to Porky’s, but three theatrical sequels — and four direct-to-video — later it needs to take its own advice: there’s no going back again, since it’s never going to be like it was.

Instead, I want to engage in that most hallowed of reunion games: “Where Are They Now?” The Class Clown, Sean William Scott, limps along with some respectably disreputable character-actor jobs here and there, pretty much playing Stifler over and over again, as he did in Road Trip, Dude, Where’s My Car?, and Mr. Woodcock. The Prom King, Chris Klein, seemed ready to cash in on his appearance as the second coming of Keanu Reeves, but he somehow went precisely nowhere after Here on Earth — his answer to A Walk in the Clouds. Most Likely To Succeed, Jason Biggs, turned American Pie into roles in Loser and Saving Silverman, and made a play for some serious acting cred under the tutelage of Woody Allen, but unfortunately it was in Anything Else, opposite Christina Ricci on her way down from her youthful peak. And Thomas Ian Nicholas and Eddie Kaye Thomas were never really that memorable in the first place; their friends remember them and know what they’re doing now, but most people look at them wondering if that was the guy behind them in English class.

Of course, there were some girls involved, too. But let’s be honest here; this isn’t really a movie series about or aimed at girls. Still we can note that the Prom Queen, Tara Reid, scrabbled around on the strength of her looks, got some terrible plastic surgery, and since has settled for the likes of 7-10 Split — released as Strike on DVD in America. Meanwhile, the studious Mena Suvari has ended up in a similar position to Nicholas and Thomas.

It’s not all bad for the American Pie alumni, though. Alyson Hannigan shone as the breakthrough lesbian wiccan Willow Rosenberg on Buffy and Angel, and continues to shine as Lily on How I Met Your Mother, but to everyone who knew her back then, she’ll never quite escape being that one girl with the flute. She gamely comes back for the reunion, but she knows and we know that she’s better than this.

And we should also remember that the American Pie series may well provide the lion’s share of Eugene Levy’s well-deserved retirement fund. His chemistry with Biggs — who is more a victim of bad luck than bad acting — is as strong as ever, and his scenes are pretty much the only thing that makes this movie endurable. Just rent the original and remember the good old days on your own.

Worth It: no.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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