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American Reunion (2012)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/10/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/2/2012
The American Pie Facebook page just launched a special "Dance Like Oz" competition with Tout! The grand prize winner will receive an American Reunion prize pack and tweet from Chris Klein! To enter, simply visit the Dance Like Oz tab on the American Pie Facebook page. Reply with your own 15-second video of your dance moves https://www.facebook.com/AmericanPie/app_156218351098324 to win!
Ah, the belated sequel -- what am I going to do with you? These films come years, sometimes decades after the original film or the original series has seemingly ended and they often have two things in common -- no one was begging for them and they feel like a grab for cash. Was anyone clamoring forIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or The X-Files: I Want to Believe? (To be fair, fans probably wanted more movies in those series...just not those specific movies.) But, every once in a while, a long-in-waiting sequel comes along whose delay sort of makes sense. (Although, it's always hard to escape that "cash grab" label.) Catching up with familiar characters can be half the fun of these movies and that's exactly the aim of American Reunion.
American Reunion takes place an indeterminate amount of time after American Wedding, (Although, it doesn't appear to be the nine years which it's been in real life.) and catches up with the gang from East Great Falls High School on the verge of their oddly timed 13-year class reunion. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are still married and they have a 2-year old son. Unfortunately, the spark has left their marriage and they would both rather pleasure themselves than one-another. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is an architect who works from home. Oz (Chris Klein) is a TV sportscaster and somewhat of a celebrity. Stifler (Seann William Scott) is a flunky temp at a big company. The group meets a few days before the reunion and they're surprised when Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) arrives, as his whereabouts had been unknown. The guys want to party and have fun, but personal problems begin to get in the way. When Oz runs into Heather (Mena Suvari), he realizes that he still has feeling for his old flame. The same goes for Kevin when he sees Vicky (Tara Reid). Jim and Michelle had hoped to work on their relationship while on the trip, but they can't find the time. Will these issues make the class reunion a disaster?
When American Pie debuted in 1999, it was sort of a Porky's 2.0, as it revived the teen sex comedy. The movie became a hit due to its raunchy humor and in-your-face sexuality, but it also wanted to be more than that. The movie was directed by Paul and Chris Weitz who went on to direct things like In Good Company andThe Golden Compass. American Pie has an undeniable earnest streak and it really want to offer a semi-realistic reflection of what teenaged life is like. But, this is easily overshadowed by the fact that the movie is about a boy who seduces a dessert.
Which brings us to one of the key problems with American Reunion. As with American Pie, the movie wants to have a certain sense of "legitimacy" and it gives every character some sort of existential crisis. They are all dealing with relationship issues and Stifler and Finch are also saddled with questions of where their lives are headed. We are asked to identify with and care for these characters, but this doesn't work for several reasons. First of all, the tone of this movie is all over the place. You can't go from a scene in which Jim discusses the death of his mother with his Dad (Eugene Levy) to one in which someone defecates into a cooler. One make the other a little hard to take seriously. Secondly, the fact that Oz and Kevinís issues are basically the same makes them seem trite. (Kevin has always been a laughably underwritten character and things donít change here.) The movie waffles back and forth between grown-up problems and sophomoric shenanigans in a way which never gels.
These aspects of the movie are also hampered by the acting. While watching the first three films, I knew the cast of the American Pie series wasnít filled with future Oscar winners, but the bad acting really stands out here. Chris Klein is so stiff that one has to wonder if has any real idea of what is going on around him. The same goes for Tara Reid (who is only in a few scenes). Thomas Ian Nichols was a cute kid in Rookie of the Year (a criminally underrated movie), but heís grown a weird looking adult and he looks like he needs to get back to his used car lot. Speaking of weird, is Mena Suvari wearing a wig? Her head looks abnormally oblong. Of course, this doesnít distract from the fact that her acting matches Kleinís for stiffness.
So, does American Reunion have any redeeming qualities? Yes and that would be Seann William Scott. Thirteen years after emerging as the character of Steve Stifler, Scott still brings a ton of energy to the role, making Stifler the most despicable yet funny member of the group. Scott effortlessly shows off how Stifler is the most conceited and clueless person in the world, and yet, we still love him. He completely steals the movie and there are laughs in nearly all of his scenes. (Although, Iím still not sure why the movie has chosen to ignore the fact that Stifler was a P.E. teacher in American Wedding.) As usual, Jason Biggs is solid as Jim and he proves that he is game to do any embarrassing situation. Alyson Hannigan is good as well, but she isnít in the movie very much.
Catching up with the group from American Pie nine years after the last movie doesnít seem like a terrible idea. However, they deserved something other than this mediocre affair. For something which took so long to arrive, American Reunion feels very half-baked. Itís completely understandable why the movie wanted to feature as much of the original cast as possible, but it would have been better off to focus on Stifler and Jim. Fans of the series will obviously want to check this out, but I canít see it winning over any new followers. Maybe the next movie can be about Stifler moving in with Jim and Michelle.
American Reunion offers the best cameo by a sock ever on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The Disc contains both the theatrical and the unrated version of the film, which runs 59 seconds longer. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no defects from the source material. The picture does show a surprising amount of grain for a new studio movie -- it's not awful, but it is noticeable. The colors look good -- most notably the reds -- and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is pretty good, but some scenes do look soft. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The songs included in the film's soundtrack provide an admirable amount of subwoofer effects. The stereo effects are good, as they display nice separation. The surround sound effects come to life during crowd or party scenes. The audio comes from the front and rear channels in even amounts, and it's detailed enough for us to pick out individual sounds.
The American Reunion Blu-ray Disc contains many extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Co-Writers/Co-Directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. The movie can also be watched with "The 'Out of Control' Track" in which some of the cast members pop up to comment on the film. This doesn't really qualify as a commentary, as the appearances are too sporadic. The Disc contains eight DELETED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. Most of these are brief, save for a longer scene with Natasha Lyonne, which the movie certainly didn't miss. The only scene worth watching here is, of course, another scene with Stifler in which he insults some workers. The Disc also contains thirteen EXTENDED SCENES which run about 26 minutes. As the name implies, these are simply longer versions of scenes in the movie. Most of the difference here are miniscule, so much so that some of the scenes run merely seconds longer than their counterparts from the finished film. There is also a reel of ALTERNATE TAKES which runs about 4 minutes and offers much more of Jason Biggs than I really need. However, we do get more of one of the film's surprise cameos, which is a good thing. This is followed by a 4-minute GAG REEL. "The 'Reunion' Reunion: Re-Launching the Series" (11 minutes) looks at the cast and characters and how the actors felt about coming back together after several years. This includes comments from the primary actors. "The Best of Biggs: Hangin' with Jason B." (4 minutes) takes us on-set to show the actor's antics, while the other actors talk about working with him. "Lake Bake" (5 minutes) takes us on-location for the shooting of the beach scene. "Dancing with the Oz" (3 minutes) shows us how Chris Klein prepared for his dance scene. We see how the front yard brawl was staged in "American Gonad-iators: The Fight Scene" (4 minutes). "Jim's Dad" (3 minutes) profiles Eugene Levy and has the other actors commenting on him. "Ouch! My Balls!" (2 minutes) shows the immature prank the actors like to play on one another on-set. "American Reunion Yearbook" is an interactive feature which allows us to learn about the primary characters and see some of their more popular moments (which equals clips from the other movies).
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long