The "American Reunion" kids are reunited, and it feels so good.
REVIEW: Can eight movies really have sprung from the lewd meeting of a horny teenager and a fresh-baked dessert? The unthinkable is true in "American Reunion," the first complete gathering of the "American Pie" gang since 2001's "American Pie 2." Assuming producers haven't completely killed the brand with four straight-to-video spinoffs, and that some nostalgia for the original exists, the good-natured pic should please those fans who haven't quite outgrown the pairing of body-fluid gags with dewy-eyed romantic sentiment.
That formula remains firmly in place despite the recruitment of writing-directing team Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, whose "Harold & Kumar" films might've suggested a more psychedelic bent. The title really says it all: Having individually decided that the 13th class reunion is the one to attend, the Class of '99 reconvenes to find that, grown-up compromises notwithstanding, everything their hearts knew in high school turned out to be true.
The movie devotes much energy to submitting Jason Biggs' Jim to the same kind of over-the-top humiliation he suffered in chapter one. But being pantsless in the kitchen isn't quite as endearing for a thirtysomething dad, and kicking the joke up a notch with frontal nudity -- updating it for the Apatow age -- just emphasizes how old this franchise is.
The script finds a more appropriate hazard in Jim's neighbor Kara (Ali Cobrin), who is now turning 18 and has a crush on her old babysitter. Through Kara, Jim and his pals encounter high school girls who never knew a world without online porn; their lack of inhibition makes the young men feel old, while a more aggressive breed of teen dudes further challenges their manliness.
The wild card in all this remains Seann William Scott's Steve Stifler, the rampaging id whose indignation at his peers' maturity provides most of the film's real laughs. While his co-stars work to incorporate a decade's worth of grown-up backstory into their characters without altering the group dynamic (Chris Klein is most successful here, selling some terribly contrived plot points with dopily lovable sincerity), Scott careens through the film confident that it's impossible to take things too far.
Predictably, Eugene Levy steals scenes as Jim's now-widowed dad, whose re-entry into the dating world puts a nice spin on the original's father-son sex talks. Jim's mother (Molly Cheek) is the only major character who doesn't reappear -- some in a line of cameos that feel increasingly forced as we near the end.