Cast: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, John Cho, Tara Reid, Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari
Dodge College of Film, 2008
"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." -Charles Mingus
Review By: Nick Becker
Yup, it’s been thirteen years! The breakout comedy, American Pie, was released in 1999, and was armed with some of the raunchiest, far-out, absurd high-school antics since its closest relative Wet, Hot American Summer. But it’s the ten-year reunion for these characters, and the creative team (Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg) who directed the low-brow comedy Harold & Kumar wrangled most of the original cast for the fourth film in the franchise. The four boys, Jim (Jason Biggs), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nichols), Oz (Chris Klein), Finch (Eddie Kay Thomas) and Stifler (Seann William Scott) are reunited for the first time since the original.
In a set-up that drags a bit, we find Chris, a successful sports broadcaster, Jim in a complacent marriage to his first love Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), Finch whose developed into a hyper-literate Dukati owner, and Stifler (under)employed and, well, acting like Stiffler. Kevin is caught in a similar clinch as Jim, but in the most dynamic relationship of the film, struggles with feelings for his first sweetheart, Vicky played by Tara Reid.
Old flames and new ones are central here, as it is for most bittersweet reunions. A new supporting character, Kara (Ali Cobrin), plays the girl-next-door to Jim, who has a big crush on her babysitter from years past. Let’s hope she hasn’t ruined what could have been a solid career in improv comedy by getting drunk and showing her tits on camera. There’s a confusing romantic entanglement later when the two are found together. Kevin sees a similar situation resolve. Love conquers all, again. Eugene Levy‘s wife though is 86′d in this film for no good reason, and the Levenstein boys seem no worse for the wear. Eugene Levy is in true form, and rekindles his flame with Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge) in a nice nod to Christopher Guest.
Hayden and John also re-introduce a few of the staples that real fans will appreciate. The MILF boys, lost in a world of adults come together for a much needed bro-mance. We also get to see Sherman, Loni Lipstein in the films biggest gross-out and Nadia, the sexy exchange student.
The film is mostly spent meandering from place to place, old haunts, and such, though the directors seem to be legitimately committed to the genesis of the franchise, and have pulled together most of the original cast. They accepted Jason Biggs input, added additional gross-out scenes to please producers and provide many “remember whens” for the audience. Taking a note from comedies like Friends with Kids, Bridesmaids and the forthcoming What To Expect When You’re Expecting, it’s catered to the original audience, now well into adulthood. But there’s no sensitivity in it, and the jokes are becoming tired. Even potentially warm scenes between father and son, MILF #1 and MILF #2, and involving Stifler’s character arc are total misses. It’s just downtime between
As far as the story goes, it’s a wandering mess. The re-introductions and references are incessant, and the payoff, central to the film and its namesake is choppy and disorienting. The directors blame these pacing issues on scheduling. This “ensemble piece” as the directors have called it, lacks a central conflict, and they eschew this as being contrived, saying that “not everyone’s gonna get it, but for the real hardcore fans out there…” You can complete the ellipse. And Altman material, it’s not. Of course, no one should expect much from the latest installment of the franchise. It’s an anti-intellectual romp. And the Director’s admit that they were hijinxy almost to the point of injury, though these characters possess little restraint, they say they tried to protect their integrity.
The “Reunion” featurette shows the camaraderie among the cast. Another feature, titled “Ball Tapping” shows a sequence of the actors on set playfully doing just that. The cast takes it as seriously as the audience should. Show up, screw around and go home, praying that this thing has been put to rest.
The deleted scenes feature is like a worst-of-the worst reel, just going to show how weak, offensive and oftentimes flat out prejudice the film can be. Stifler calls a party-planning staff of Latinos “los fuckers.” There are references to Glee, Kareem Abdul, etc. that were cut to avoid further embarrassment.
So what’s the outcome here? Well, it seems like the team just hopes someone watches and relates it to a friend, anything about it and that it will translate to sales. Perhaps NPH’s bit part. Or someone goes out and buys that American-Pie-Green wallpaper or an inflatable “Pussy-Gator.” And I’m not that guy today. Don’t waste your money. Oh, and did I mention here that Jason Biggs’ penis is featured? And Michael Fassbender, he’s not. On that note, reasons why you don’t need to see this on a high-definition blu-ray…