The original pie-fucker: Jason Biggs
Gets to mope a lot: Alyson Hannigan
Was once Henry Gardenhoser, or Rulenfuter, or maybe it was Rutabega?: Thomas Ian Nicolas
My favorite name ever, Ostreicher: Chris Klein
Fucking right doggie!: Seann William Scott
Looks the same: Eddie Kaye Thomas
Wears a lot of white: Tara Reid
American Beauty: Mena Suvari
The Brows: Eugene Levy
Speaks way more: Jennifer Coolidge
Intense: John Cho
Really really bodaciously attractive: Katrina Bowden
Back-handed Douche: Jay Harrington
Did not have black liquid running from her eyes: Dania Ramirez
Creeper teenage boyfriend: Chuck Hittinger
Awesome haired boss: Vik Sahay
Finch's awesome mom: Rebecca De Mornay
Looks really great naked, like...really spectacular, bravo: Ali Cobrin
Here's what we were dealing with in each of the films.
American Pie: the guys want to lose their virginity before the end of their senior year of high school.
American Pie 2: it's the summer after the first year of college. The guys want to have a fun summer.
American Wedding: Jim (Jason Biggs) is getting married to Michelle (Alyson H).
American Reunion: everyone is in town for their first high school reunion weekend.
In terms of importance/impact, how would we rank these events?
3. First Reunion
4. Summer Fun
3. First Reunion
4. Summer Fun
Wedding or Virginity depends on, I think, context. Maybe in the scope of an entire life Wedding is more important than losing your Virginity. But, when you're in high school, losing your virginity is usually more of a concern than getting married.
It just so happens, this is pretty much how I rank the movies.
1. American Pie or American Wedding
2. American Wedding or American Pie
3. American Pie 2
4. American Reunion
Here's my reason: energy.
American Pie and American Wedding have, I think, more intensity.
In American Pie, Jim fucks a pie. There's the webcam dance. Finch's bathroom scene. Shannon Elizabeth. Sherman wetting himself at prom. "One time, at band camp...". And Stifler's mom.
In American Wedding, Stifler eats dog shit. There's the under the table blow job. The gay bar dance-off. January Jones. The bachelor party scene, which is my favorite thing in the entire series. Pube cake.
When you look at American Pie 2 and Reunion, what's really going on?
Pie 2: cops shut down a party (oh boy...). Jason Biggs and Seann William Scott make out (oh boy...). Jim goes to band camp and is mistaken for Petey (I do like that). There's the superglue scene. And then............. meh......
Reunion: the masturbatory-sock on the child's head. A black man's rhythmic ass-cheeks. Jim pants-less. The cooler shit. Naked Kara. Kara's Oz-loving mom. Oz's dance number. Pube face. Finch's mom. Movie theater blow job.
In the first movie, we have 5 pay-offs.
In the second movie we have 2.
In the third, we have 5.
And in the fourth, we have 10 moments, but I think of these more as samples than actual...portions. The sock lasts for three seconds. The ass-cheeks last for three seconds. Jim pant-less is uncomplicated: he hides behind the counter for thirty seconds, then grabs pot lids, but accidentally shows his penis (oh boy...). The cooler shit has a one second pay-off. Kara naked is great, no arguments. Kara's mom hitting on Oz is like...10 seconds worth of moments. Oz's dance number is solid. Pube face is three seconds. Finch's mom is a twist, it isn't a new joke. The movie theater blow job is good.
The difference, for me, between American Pie 2 and American Reunion is energy. The guys are still kids. They're young and horny and anxious and stupid. And that energy carries scenes. Stifler and Jim kiss at the request of two hot women who promise to go tit-for-tat (not a pun?). The two women kiss each other once. Then say "Your turn," in a sexy voice. Jim goes "Oh yeah!" with a big smile on a his face. He approaches the women. He's thinking they want to kiss him. He's eager like a puppy. One of the girls tells him "No, no, no," but she's laughing, both girls are amused by his excitement.
In Reunion, Jim is...sexless. Like. The plot is about him and Michelle not having sex. This lack of passion I feel permeates every aspect of the movie. Things still happen. But the characters are reacting like adults. They're tired. They're concerned about repercussions. They're worried about legal issues. Well, not Stifler. Stifler punched the guy that said if Oz punched him (the guy speaking) he'd sue. And Stifler doesn't really act like an adult ever. Let's turn to Ebert for validation. "American Reunion" has a sense of deja vu, but it still delivers a lot of nice laughs. Most of them for me came thanks to Stifler. Seann William Scott, who has a respectable career otherwise, has made the role of Stifler his own, and seems able to morph his face into an entirely new person: narrowed eyes, broad maniacial grin, frightening focus, still with all the zeal for seduction and adventure he had in high school.
Stifler aside, the energy that drove all the main characters in the first three movies is waning. A lot of the verve comes from the supporting actors: Stifler's boss, Oz's girlfriend, Heather's douchey boyfriend, Kara's mom, Kara, Kara's boyfriend. And that dissipated energy has to do with the content. What we're viewing in Reunion is nostalgia.
The First High School Reunion is more important than Summer Fun because it's a milestone. You're coming back together with all these people you spent your childhood with, who you grew up with--time has passed and one can't help but think back on those old times, to think about what you had and what you lost, about where you are and if who you are is anything close to who High-School-You wanted to be.
Jim and Michelle are nostalgic for their old sex life. Stifler is nostalgic for his high school sex life. Kevin is nostalgic for Vicky, his high school love. Oz is nostalgic for anonymity, for simplicity, for his high school love, Heather. Finch is nostalgic for the potential of youth, concocting false stories because he's living a normal life. And Jim's dad, a widower now, is nostalgic for his wife.
All of this...reminiscing and self-evaluation, combined with the age of the characters, and the low stakes (there really isn't that much tension for the characters...Jim is adamant about not sleeping with Kara...Stifler's job isn't important...Oz doesn't like his job or girlfriend...Finch's lies give him a night in prison (oh boy...)...) make this, as far as I'm concerned, the least exciting movie in the franchise.
Don't get me wrong, you can obviously have a movie about reminiscing and self-evaluation, involving characters 30 and over, that's exciting. Fight Club is about self-evaluation. And I think Fight Club is very exciting. Batman Begins: nostalgia drives Bruce Wayne to become Batman.
The problem with American Reunion is motivation. The loss of virginity motivates American Pie. The wedding motivates American Wedding. The main plot of American Pie 2 lacks a central motivation, there aren't really stakes, but the youth of the characters motivates each scene. American Reunion.......
Real quick, let's look at other movies.
The Count of Monte Cristo: Edmund is all in for vengeance.
V for Vendetta: vengeance vivifies V.
Unbreakable: Bruce Willis has to find out about his power.
Hero: the end of bloodshed motivates all of the characters.
Lost in Translation: the need to connect to someone who understands motivates Scar-Jo and Bill.
Edmund WANTS vengeance. V CRAVES vengeance. Willis SEEKS purpose. The warriors FIGHT for peace. Jo and Bill NOURISH each other.
Even an ambivalent character can be interesting if their lack of action is put in the proper context. Like Paul Newman in The Color of Money. He's motivated to not play pool. The movie ends with a thunderous break by Newman and his annoucing "I'm back!"
The stakes don't always have to be a wedding or a virginity or life/death for the stakes to matter. But the characters have to care. Like...Toy Story 3. When Andy passes Woody & Crew on to the little girl at the end of the movie, the moment matters (despite being, simply, a kid giving his old toys to another kid), which is why you were probably crying.
Why does it matter? Why were you probably crying?
Because we watched 260 some minutes (out of 276 total minute) of these toys being separated from Andy and overcoming ridiculous situation after ridiculous situation to get back to Andy because they love him and they know how much he loves them. Those toys really fucking care about Andy. And Andy serves as avatar for us, so we're thinking about the relationship we had with the toys of our childhood. I don't know about you, but I had toys I loved. Seeing toys RETURN that love, seeing how much Woody, Buzz, Rex, Slinky, Bullseye, etc, care about Andy--and thus making us think about how our toys maybe loved us just as much--that's a recipe for tears. There's a lot of caring going on.
So Andy handing his toys off is not a high-stakes action. But because he cared about those toys, and those toys cared about him, we care about the situation.
And, okay, a movie can have motivation for the characters and still suck. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark had motivated characters and it is stupid as stupid gets. But that's because the characters make stupid decisions. There are many elements that go into making a good movie. But you can't have a great movie with characters that aren't motivated in any way, where a night in jail is the "climax" and it doesn't really matter, where quitting your job is the "climax" and it doesn't really matter, where having sex with your wife who wants to have sex with you and you want to have sex with her is a "climax", where leaving the girlfriend you don't really like doesn't really matter and you immediately get the girl you do want is the "climax". If it's not a big deal for the characters, it's not a big deal for the viewer.
You should re-read this and take as many sentences as you can as innuendo. If you're having a difficult time getting the innuendo, really relax as you read, and just keep reading and reading and reading, and the innuendo will come.
Did I Like It:
Yeah. The characters are still the same characters. And nostalgia is a powerful emotion. So there's something about it I found...endearing.
Ebert muses that the movie probably wouldn't work for someone who hasn't watched any of the previous films. Which I think is kind of neat. So much of this film references previous films, or relies on the previous films. Like. When Jim is pants-less in the kitchen. On its own, it's a sort of funny scene. But when you know Jim's history it takes on the tone of "Oh that Jim, always getting into these situations." Just like Jim tells Stifler "You're our dick," these characters are, if you're a fan of the series, our [insert descriptive phrase].
On the flip side, someone could be like "wtf...HOW!? HOW does he keep getting into these situations? Haven't these characters changed AT ALL?!!?!"
I didn't laugh all that hard. Sometimes I chuckled. It disappointed me that the Harold & Kumar writers did this. I thought they were funnier than this.
Don't get why Nadia would wander into the band room with her husband? Maybe she caught a glimpse of Jim and Michelle running in their? Shannon Elizabeth looked good.
I hadn't realized Chris Klein wasn't in American Wedding.
What It's Good For:
-fans of the series
-Chris Klein's comeback
-not really for people who haven't caught any of the previous films
-lacks the energy of the other films
-nothing really happens (Oz changes the most, and all he's really doing is regressing to what he had)
% Character / % Actor's personality
-Comedy franchises with three or more entries: Harold & Kumar; Austin Powers; Big Momma's House; Beverly Hills Cop; Meet the Parents
-HIgh school reunion movies: Grosse Pointe Blank; Romy and Michele's High School Reunion; Zack and Miri Make a Porno
-Jason Biggs: Saving Silverman
-Seann William Scott: Road Trip; Dude, Where's My Car; Old School; Role Models