American Pie is not quite the gem it tends to be remembered as. The memories of it do more favors to stabilize its glorious reputation than the film itself. Some years back my roommate and I, both with our love for the original still very much alive at the time, watched all three Pie films back to back. What we quickly discovered is that either we had gotten too old for them or the films themselves simply had not aged well at all.
By the time American Wedding was over, we were sure it was the latter.
The first movie, while not boring or unfunny, even with its memorable moments, seems to have wasted potential. Not to mention, it looks and feels trapped in its decade. American Pie 2, released in 2001, is superfluous and is very much a sequel, relying heavily on its predecessor to keep us interested. American Wedding, while far from brilliant, in my humble opinion, is the only entry that stands firmly on its own and is probably the funniest and best written of the first three.
American Reunion, like American Pie 2, expects its audience to have seen the original film. Its story is essentially a number of sub-plots strung loosely together by a very paper-thin plot, which involves the gang reuniting in their hometown for their thirteen-year high school reunion. Everyone seems to have moved on with their lives, some of them married, while others are working their dream jobs. Though their time together, after many years, soon shows them just how different their lives are from what they expected.
Married couple Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) Levenstein are Reunion’s central focus. They’ve been experiencing marital woes and attempt to use their reunion vacation as an opportunity to resuscitate their passion. Hannigan and Biggs are strong leads and have a healthy chemistry that still earns our attention. It’s really the entire cast’s chemistry, in fact, that makes the whole one hundred thirteen minute production entertaining. Everyone seems to genuinely care about one another and the script does a skillful job of updating the audience on the characters’ lives and leaving them in a good place, without being too predictable or schmaltzy.
It is apparent that a lot effort went into making certain every last character from the original film is accounted for. In doing this, the filmmakers have made an engaging sequel that feels complete and respectful to longtime fans.
Aside from occasionally feeling forced, its innate redundancy and its irritating amount of pop culture references, American Reunion is still a well-intentioned, nicely crafted epilogue to the original movie and is a fitting finale to the series. It does what it needs to do and makes sure we have a good time watching.