Casually disregarding four previous non-canonical franchise outings (Band Camp, The Naked Mile et al), American Pie: Reunion (2011) returns to the characters and relationships of the original American Pie story, for apparently one last slice of smut and nostalgic camaraderie. Directed by series newcomers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, Reunion willingly slips into the tired grooves of its three predecessors by retooling the tried-and-tested teen movie formula around the thin premise of a high school reunion.
With a child on the way and experiencing something of a sexual rut in his marriage to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), perennially awkward Jim (Jason Biggs) returns home to find that his legacy as a pie-humping, viral video-starring adolescent remains intact. Teaming back up with old friends Kevin (Thomas Ian Nichols), Oz (Chris Klein) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), the gang initially enjoy their weekend away from maturity and relationship obligations. However, when enfant terrible Stifler (Seann William Scott) rears his maniacal head once again, the gang’s penchant for sticky situations and lewd mishaps returns.
The explicit pupil in 1999’s school of softcore (and superior) teen movies (Election, 10 Things I Hate About You), the original American Pie was as much a throwback to the teenage foibles of the Porky’s series as it was an epochal depiction of American high school culture. Reunion, in its clear attempt at emulating the crude but eventually sweet nature of the preceding instalments, inherently suffers because of its standing amongst a sub-genre populated by derivative films that have built upon the inaugural American Pie’s success.
Though there may be some melancholy for fans of the original series – stuck with the balding and altogether rounder central cast members along with a number of fleeting cameos (Shannon Elizabeth’s Nadia, Natasha Lyonne’s confirmed lesbian Jessica), Reunion rarely shakes an inherent sense of desperation. Is this really just a final bid to reignite the waning careers of several washed-up actors, whose 13-year-old potential has barely been fulfilled?
With this disenfranchised subtext left regrettably untapped, what Hurwitz and Schlossberg’s Reunion script does make ample room for is dated toilet humour and a mindless treatment of women as either prudish caregivers or disposable fellators. All these elements appear entirely lost in a useless rehash that – for the mots part – just feels plainly embarrassing.