Published Apr 05, 2012Amidst the array of genitally oriented and scatologically-inclined scenarios intended to derive comedy from the taboo impropriety of base human instincts and the gamut of familiar male posturing, the American Pie franchise depicts the various life stages of the outspoken, but inarticulate (and less intriguing) portion of society, noting the cohesive and identity defining force of sex as a signifier of self.
It's a restorative and reassuring formula drawing from the original film, only with the added zeal of bullshit nostalgia in subsequent entries, representing the passage to manhood as defined by sexual prowess, with the objectification and proprietary gain of interchangeable women acting as mere obstacle courses in the quest for "pie." So, comparatively, the contrived shenanigans and strained melodrama about rekindling old flames and testing old friendships in a "wasn't it awesome when we didn't have responsibilities?" capacity throughout American Reunion is about on par with the three previous theatrical films, only proving slightly more amusing than the second and third instalments.
This reunion film of sorts finds Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Stifler (Seann William Scott) reaching a thematically similar crossroads while coping with the demands of social expectations (without irony). Their decade-long experiences are a hodgepodge of male clichés, with Jim's sexless marriage taking the front seat to Stifler's career malaise, Finch's passionless adventuring and Kevin's domestic tedium. Didactically speaking, their central arc, or quest, is to re-establish the sense of self they had when their only life motivation involved sticking their penises in anything with a pair of breasts.
But despite the narrative hokum reaffirming the dormant passions and youthful motivations of men, save Alyson Hannigan, who is actually granted the right to have a libido of her own, seemingly the only thing learned over the last decade is that while a warm apple pie might seem like a good replacement for a vagina, a more elastic and resistant dessert, like a lava cake or (a potentially) oversized Twinkie (definitely not a flan), might be preferable.
Again, Stifler's profanity and manipulative niceties drive the crudity, reaching their peak with a cooler defecation scene, while Jim's awkward bad luck finds his penis suffering abuse in a completely unnatural set piece involving a pot lid. The flute does come out but, while more practical than a banjo or a bassoon, Michelle seems to have realized that pleasuring oneself with a musical instrument may result in a bladder or yeast infection.
The effect of this film comes from the comfort of the familiar in rehashing an old formula, sating the same sense of nostalgia in the audience as the one-note ciphers on screen are experiencing. There are enough laughs to make it tolerable, even to the indifferent, which at least says something, considering that this franchise attempts to depict the emotional development of the sorts of folks that bullied anyone different in high school. (Universal)