In 1999, "American Pie" was a smash hit thanks to an assortment of lowbrow gags that have become ensconced into pop culture consciousness. Movie fans will never forget the sight of Jason Biggs humping a warm apple pie or the shapely Shannon Elizabeth stripping to her undies. Universal certainly raked it in as the film made over $235 million worldwide off a scant $11 million budget. The studio was quick to strike while the iron was hot with two sequels and a string of direct-to-video spinoffs with Eugene Levy as the only original cast member. After nine years since the last "Pie" picture was released theatrically, Universal resurrects the franchise with "American Reunion."
Jim (Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are happily married with a son, but find it difficult to be intimate with one another. Following in the tradition of its predecessors, "Reunion" opens with the hapless Jim caught in an embarrassing situation as he attempts to pleasure himself. The couple hopes that their upcoming thirteenth high school reunion will give them a chance to reignite the flame. By the way, I know tenth, fifteenth, and twentieth anniversary reunions are a big thing, but the thirteenth doesn't seem that big a deal. In any event, Jim is excited to see all his old buddies again. His plans are crimped when he has to fend off the amorous advances of Kara (Ali Cobrin), a high school senior he once babysat.
Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has become a successful architect and a slightly domesticated husband. Oz (Chris Klein) has become an NFL analyst for a cable sports network with a young supermodel girlfriend in Mia (Katrina Bowden). He's also the butt of a few jokes for his appearance on a "Dancing with the Stars"-type reality show. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) dropped off the radar, but returns just in time with tales of traveling the world. Then, there's Stifler (Seann William Scott), who the others have been trying to avoid because he hasn't changed much.
Nearly everyone from the first film has returned in some small fashion with John Cho & Justin Isfeld as the MILF Guys, Chris Owen as the Sherminator, Natasha Lyonne as Jessica, and Shannon Elizabeth as Nadia.
The reins of the franchise have been handed off to Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, the writers behind the "Harold & Kumar" series. If anyone knows potty humor, it's them. However, the jokes just aren't funny or as outrageous as previous installments or even movies like "21 Jump Street" or "Knocked Up." We get the requisite boob shots when Jim is forced to sneak an unconscious and naked Kara into her house without her parents knowing. Another prominent gag finds Stifler defecating into a cooler.
This wouldn't be too much of a problem if the character moments had any semblance of depth. Poor Thomas Ian Nicholas generally gets the short end of the stick as the writers struggle to find anything interesting for his character. In a rehash of "American Pie 2," Kevin has an awkward encounter with his ex, Vicky (Tara Reid). Oz goes through the same thing with his former flame, Heather (Mena Suvari). These storylines highlight just how terribly written the female characters are in "Reunion." They are either thinly drawn lovesick girls or nymphomaniac party skanks with the exception of Alyson Hannigan, who really deserves better. The one B-story that yields some fruit belongs to Levy as Jim's Dad, who looks to get back into the singles game following the death of his wife. He winds up romancing the original MILF, Stifler's Mom (Jennifer Coolidge).
The video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer is strong with brightly lit beach scenes coming off very well. Skin tones are natural and there is a lack of noticeable defects.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The sound isn't overpowering and usually picks up when the soundtrack kicks in. Speakers will be at their busiest during rowdy scenes like a front yard brawl involving the protagonists.
The Blu-ray includes an audio commentary track by Hurwitz and Schlossberg and an "Out of Control" video commentary with cast members popping up to add their two cents.
The "Reunion" Reunion: Re-Launching the Series (10:32) is a behind-the-scenes featurette about gathering the main cast and shooting some of the film's most raucous scenes.
The Best of Biggs: Hangin' with Jason B. (3:37) is about Jason Biggs and his antics in between filming.
Lake Bake (4:31) looks at shooting the lake and beach sequences during a hot, sweltering summer in Georgia.
Dancing with the Oz (2:50) focuses on Chris Klein and his training for the "Celebrity Dance-Off" sequence.
American Gonad-iators: The Fight Scene (4:13) is a featurette about the brawl between the main characters and a gang of high school kids.
Jim's Dad (2:47) focuses on Mr. Levenstein's newfound bachelorhood and his struggle to return to the dating scene.
Ouch! My Balls! (1:47) looks at the actors goofing around the set by hitting each other in the genitals.
American Reunion Yearbook is an interactive yearbook that allows viewers to access clips from previous films and hear the actors discuss what happened to their characters after graduation.
Rounding out the bonus features are deleted and extended scenes, alternate takes, and a gag reel. The movie is being released as a combo pack that includes a DVD version of the film as well as download codes for Ultraviolet and Digital Copy versions.
As Thomas Wolfe once wrote, "You can't go home again." The central theme of "American Reunion" is all about living in the present without looking back at the past through rose-colored lenses. If only the filmmakers took those same lessons to heart. "American Reunion" is a bland and humorless sequel that simply did not need to be made.