The best thing that can be said about American Pie: Reunion is that it is a genuinely convincing portrayal of a high school reunion. An impressive number of the original cast are back, now playing characters in their early thirties who stand around, asking each other about how things are going at work, reminiscing about the crazy things they used to get up when they were teenagers, and lamenting how dull their lives have become.
Trust me, their lives are dull.
American Pie: Reunion doesn't exactly have a single overarching plot, but for sheer volume of subplots it really can't be beaten. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle's (Alyson Hannigan) subplot is that their sex life has died off since their son, Evan, was born.
Evan himself is in the film for approximately five minutes, and despite the fact that he is taken along for the reunion, he conveniently vanishes from the plot within the first half-hour and is eerily never seen again. I like to assume that he was eaten by a wild bear and his parents were too preoccupied to notice. This subplot quickly turns into the age-old "you promised we would spend time together on this vacation but you spend all your time with your friends instead" narrative that has already been seen many times before and hasn't seasoned well with age.
Kevin's (Thomas Ian Nicholas) major dilemma is that he worries that he might be watching too much daytime TV now that he is married. He gets reunited with high school girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid) and there is a rather limp residue of sexual tension between them that results in some minor angst. That's pretty much it for Kevin. Oh, and he grew a beard at some point. I suppose you could call that an achievement.
Oz (Chris Klein) is now a sports TV presenter who recently humiliated himself on the American equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing. He has a shallow, bitchy girlfriend and is reunited with high school girlfriend Heather (Mena Suvari), who has acquired a smarmy, egotistical boyfriend. Zero points if you guess where that plotline goes.
Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) shows up on a motorcycle and fascinates everyone with his stories of international travel, fighting pirates and joining Malaysian tribes. He doesn't really have a subplot of his own, but he gets a love interest which probably qualifies as a sub-subplot.
What's most surprising about American Pie: Reunion is just how depressing the tone is. There are countless references to jokes made in the first film, which at times shift from pleasant nostalgia into "remember when we used to be funny?" territory. Whereas the dramatic scenes in American Pie worked well in the context of a broader slapstick comedy, the drama in Reunion seems forced and uncomfortable.
The audience has to sit through several conversations about Jim's dead mother, and about how lonely Jim's Dad (Eugene Levy) has been since her death, which blend into the overall tone of the film about as well as a fistful of gravel might blend into a banana milkshake.
Early on in the film, the gang gatecrash a high school party and the sight of thirty-something guys partying with a group of girls who range from barely-legal to not-legal-at-all skirts too close to the edge of uncomfortable. A major subplot in the film (which is also the major source of onscreen nudity) is about an eighteen year-old girl who Jim used to babysit, who is now dead-set on having sex with him whether he likes it or not. That's cringeworthy enough, but things only get worse when she passes out drunk and Stifler tries to "take advantage" of the situation. Ick.
It's not all doom and gloom however. It needs to be said that Seann William Scott saves this movie. I'm not sure whether that's a testament to the writing of Stifler's character or the strength of Scott's acting, but from the moment he strolls into the middle of the recently reunited gang and yells "is that a pussy on your face?" RE: Kevin's beard, he really is a breath of fresh air.
When he's not crossing the fine line between "lovable scamp" and "registered sex offender" (see the scene mentioned above, along with classics like the 'vagina shark') his storyline and character development are genuinely interesting, he has the funniest lines in the movie and, best of all, he finally finds closure for the Finch-and-Stifler's-Mom incident that took place in American Pie.
American Pie: Reunion is funny, in places, and is certainly worth watching if you're a fan of the franchise. Enough of the supporting cast return (including the MILF guys and the Sherminator) to make it feel like a proper reunion, and if all else fails you'll at least get to see both male and female full-frontal nudity. At the end of the day, isn't that what's important?
American Pie: Reunion is on general UK release from Wednesday 2nd May.