Thursday, April 5, 2012

The 'American Pie' gang grows long in the tooth

American Reunion suggests it's time to abandon adolescence, but still wants to wallow in the humor that goes with it..
If there's a message in the lingering adolescence of American Reunion -- the post-graduate edition of the raunchy 1999 teen comedy American Pie -- it might be this: One never is too old to masturbate. Or maybe it's that jokes involving penises and bowel movements represent the high point of hilarity. What? You thought a reunion of the American Pie crowd would result in a display of Wildean wit?

This superfluous sequel brings the Piee- gang together for a 13th high school reunion. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are married with a two-year-old son. But all is not bliss for Jason and the former devotee of band camp: Most notably, the couple's sex life has become so dull that each prefers masturbation to intercourse.

The rest of the group can be summarized quickly. A third-tier celebrity, Oz (Chris Klein) now works as a sportscaster at a lesser cable network, but is best known for having appeared on a celebrity dance show. He lost.

Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) claims to be a worldly adventurer; Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is happily married, and Stifler (Seann William Scott) works as a temp at a high-powered investment firm, where the boss specializes in humiliation.

These former high school buddies reunite in their Michigan hometown. The guys hope the reunion will recharge batteries that have depleted since the onset of adulthood, the notion being that a weekend of rampant immaturity is just the ticket for lives that need a boost.

Directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, best known for their work on the Harold & Kumar movies, try hard to deliver the expected goods, forgoing any element of surprise for a steady and predictable stream of the same kind of ribald humor that made the previous two movies popular. If you need me to tell you more about how the Pie movies approach comedy, you definitely are not part of the movie's target audience, and don't need to know any more.

The Pie formula requires that attempts to recapture high school enthusiasms go awry, that the friends learn that it's better to be adults than to regress and that ... oh, who really cares? If you've been dying to watch Stifler engage in a gross-out act of revenge, here's your chance. Otherwise, party on elsewhere.

Sexual temptation ripples throughout the proceedings. An 18-year-old hottie (Ali Cobrin) wants to surrender her virginity to Jim. He used to babysit for her. Kevin can't help but take a second look at his old high school flame (Tara Reid), and Chris wonders whether his love for Heather (Mena Suvari) still smolders.

Despite a receding hairline, Stifler serves as the movie's vulgar centerpiece while the rest of the crew struggles to put over jokes, a somewhat laborious effort because they're all looking a little long in the tooth for this sort of adolescent romp.

Eugene Levy, a master comic actor, has the only reliably funny bits in the movie. Levy, who at one point smokes pot with Stiffler's buxom mom (Jennifer Coolidge), can fit into this kind of raunchfest and emerge with his honor intact.

American Reunion opens without serious competition in the comedy department, so it might make small splash at the box office, but I can't say that this third and belated helping of the series (American Pie 2 was released in 2001) did anything more than convince me that I've had enough.

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