The latest serving of American Pie is exactly like that awkward high school reunion; full of people you thought you wanted to see again, until you realise you don’t have anything in common anymore.
It’s been some thirteen years since the angsty teens of East Great Falls redefined the teen comedy genre. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are now wearily married with a small child.
Seann William Scott returns as the grinningly offensive but good-natured Stifler, and Eugene Levy is back as Jim’s scene-stealing dad.
In fact, all the familiar faces are back, and for about 20 minutes at the end, it actually works really. The cast suddenly gels, and with the cavalcade of faces from teen movie history flashing before your eyes, it becomes a genuinely humourous nostalgic trip that makes us remember why the first two films were so popular.
The problem, unfortunately, is the hour and 20 minutes that comes before it. Because for the sizable majority of Reunion’s running time, it really is like catching up with old friends, in that nothing’s changed, and most of the time it revolves around pointless reminiscence. The jokes are the same, many of the characters have not really developed, and the whole thing just feels slightly recycled.
It has some funny moments, sure, but many of those are overly contrived and poorly written, and for teen viewers and newcomers to the franchise in particular, the more adult-oriented subject matter may not be as engaging; this is more about nostalgia than reeling in a new audience.
This nostalgia factor is compounded by the presence of so many familiar faces from the original film, plenty of Easter eggs that reference events in the franchise’s history, and even the settling of some unresolved matters – all of which offer a bit of extra enjoyment for longtime fans.
Even with a brief moment of screen time, all of the returning players get a chance to make an impression – and, hopefully, bring a smile to fans’ faces.
But ultimately, the nostalgia of revisiting our youth is really the only positive to take from this film. After four servings, Reunion might still be tasty to some, but it’s probably now time to take this stale pie off the menu.