You can always go home again according to American Reunion, in which adult life for Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), and Stifler (Seann William Scott) is filled with misguided decisions, burdensome responsibilities, and a loss of self that can only be rectified by re-embracing the past. That’s not a surprising message for Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg’s sequel, as this third theatrical follow-up to 1999’s original American Pie believes that there’s nothing quite as funny or satisfying as rehashing the same formula that first worked 13 years ago.
All grown up but saddled with a sexless marriage (Jim), an unfulfilling sportscaster and reality-TV dancing career (Oz), a domestic existence watching Real Housewives (Kevin), loveless adventuring (Finch), and a crappy temp job (Stifler), the characters return home for their high school reunion in dire need of some sappy healing amid raunchy shenanigans. That prescribed recipe is as predictable as Stifler is profane, and it’s a wonder the film doesn’t practically hold up a sign pleading for approval during its wannabe-memorable centerpieces, which here involve (among other things) the sight of Jim’s dick smushed by a pot lid, Jim parading about a house party in dominatrix gear, and Stifler crapping in a teenage punk’s beer cooler.
Funnier than its prior two predecessors, if gratingly awash in demographic-pandering late-‘90s alt-rock hits (“Closing Time,” “Freshman”), American Reunion flounders with its earnest melodrama, most of which centers around Jim and Michelle’s stagnant bedroom life—a situation complicated by Jim’s neighbor Kara (Ali Cobrin), an 18-year-old sexpot he used to babysit and whom he winds up having to sneak back into her house after she comes onto him and is knocked unconscious while naked. As before, Jim is a frustrated latter-day Woody Allen who can’t avoid compromising situations, and his friends are still a featureless bunch, albeit not as bland as their romantic interests Heather (Mena Suvari) and Vicky (Tara Reid), two bleached-blond robots without a personality trait between them.
Mercifully, Eugene Levy (as Jim’s dad) remains an amusing comedic foil for the anxious Biggs, and Scott steals every scene he’s in as the wildly inappropriate Stifler, whose brazen vulgarity is matched by a phony big-grin charm around women he wants to bed, and whose inappropriate frat-jock idiocy is undermined by a story that humiliates its macho jester through fat-girl sexual comeuppance and the revelation that his lacrosse teammates are gay. Through its gleeful celebration of Stifler and his I-can-beat-you-up-dork attitude, American Reunion at least finds a small way to be both contemporary and disreputable by, essentially, turning itself into the anti-Bully.