American Reunion Review

American Reunion is the best movie I’ve seen so far this year.  No, seriously.

It’s outright hilarious, as one would expect from a movie of the famed American Pie series.  But it also succeeds where the previous three (we are not counting those horrendous spin-offs) movies have failed (or succeeded to a much lesser extent) – American Reunion explores some pretty heavy themes such as aging, impotency, death of a spouse, adultery, and life after high school in a surprisingly serious manner that one would not expect from such a comedy.

American Reunion is exactly what the title implies – the cast members of the series reunite for their ten-year high school class reunion.  Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) and Michele Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan) are married (as depicted in the titular American Wedding) and now have a two-year-old boy.

Kevin Myers (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is married as well, and is the constant butt of jokes for his role as a stay-at-home dad who works as an architect and who watches shows such as The Real Housewives and Gossip Girl with his wife.

Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is as mysterious as ever, arriving on the scene in a sleek Japanese motorcycle and telling stories of his globetrotting adventures.

Chris “Oz” Ostreicher is the most successful of the group, living in Los Angeles with a cushy job as a sportscaster, a model girlfriend, and a stint on the fictional Celebrity Dance-Off.  And who could forget the womanizing and foul-mouthed Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott), who still seems bent on his high school habits despite his low-profile job as an temporary office worker.

Nearly all of the memorable characters from the series make an appearance.  Oz and Kevin encounter their ex-girlfriends, Heather (Mena Suarvi) and Vicki (Tara Reid), respectively, and must deal with lingering feelings of affection.  Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy) returns, delivering more of his trademark words of wisdom to Jim, who is dealing with a shaky marriage.  Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), the Czechoslovakian love interest of Jim from the first two movies, reappears.  The best cameo goes to Chuck Sherman (Chris Owen), a.k.a “The Sherminator”, who is divorced and rediscovers his passion for his alter ego after being extolled by Stifler.

American Reunion is raunchy and outrageous, which isn’t surprising.  The characters continue to find themselves in ridiculous situations.  Some particularly memorable moments include Stifler’s feud with some local high school boys Jim’s dad becoming intoxicated at a party thrown by Stifler, and a high school girl on the verge of eighteen being obsessed with Jim.  What sets this movie aside from its predecessors is its ability to explore some pretty serious themes and interject them throughout the movie without detracting from the humor.

Some of the more sentimental moments include Jim’s dad reminiscing about his recently deceased wife and Oz’s decision to stay in Michigan to be with Heather.  Kevin’s eventual declaration for love for his wife over Vicki is moving. The scenes depicting the characters talking about life after high school and the nostalgic desire to return to those days is enough to make any soon-to-be high school graduate, such as myself, emotional.

I knew that I would laugh myself silly when I walked into the theater.  I didn’t expect to leave considering some of the themes American Reunion explores.  The combination of those two elements sets this movie apart from its predecessors by a sizable distance, and from most movies I have seen in the last few years.  Call this the crazy, hormone-influenced dribble of an arrogant teenager, but American Reunion’s combination of humor and meditations on life make it the best movie I’ve seen so far in 2012.