- Last Updated: 3:23 PM, April 6, 2012
- Posted: 9:47 PM, April 5, 2012
Reheated pie. Running time: 113 minutes. Rated R (nudity, crude sexual content, drugs). At the E-Walk, the Union Square, others.
Harmless if not exactly inspired, and rarely hilarious, “American Reunion’’ is the genially smutty, third big-screen sequel to the 1999 hit “American Pie,’’ bringing back virtually the entire original cast, absent from four lucrative direct-to-DVD prequels.
Drawing libidinous inspiration from “There’s Something About Mary’’ (1998), the original “Pie’’ reinvented R-rated teenage comedies, which had virtually disappeared since their 1980s heyday of “Porky’s’’ and “Risky Business.’’
What seemed shocking the summer before the turn of the century — most famously, sexual congress with a dessert — is now relatively tame compared with more recent raunchfests such as “The Hangover’’ and “Bridesmaids.’’
And so are the antics of the guys who return for a 13-year reunion at East Great Falls High: Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Stifler (Seann William Scott).
This sequel is dominated by horndog Stifler, who has resisted growing up more than the others (he’s marginally employed as a temp) and is determined to help his more mature buddies still party like it’s 1999, sharing bongs with scantily clad underage cuties.
The problem, from a comic point of view, is that there’s no compellingly hilarious quest like in the first film, when four of them were determined to lose their virginity.
Jim married high school sweetheart Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) in “American Wedding’’ nine years ago, and they’re now struggling to reignite their dormant sex life after the birth of a baby.
Oz, a television personality, and Kevin have moved on to other relationships, but are confronted by their high school flames Vicky (Tara Reid) and Heather (Mena Suvari).
And poor Finch is still fixated on Stifler’s oversexed mom (Jennifer Coolidge). But she’s more interested in Jim’s dad (played, as always, by the ever-reliable Eugene Levy, who was even in the prequels). Unfortunately, these two stalwarts from the Christopher Guest stock company have disappointingly little screen time together.
The sad fact — adding possibly unintended poignancy to the proceedings — is that Levy and Coolidge have had more lasting screen careers than any of the younger performers who were readily available to return for this sequel, including Natasha Lyonne and Shannon Elizabeth.
While the ’80s have been celebrated endlessly in pop culture, the ’90s have repeatedly resisted such nostalgic revivals. Really, who wants to be reminded of Mario Lopez who gets name checked in this movie?
Still, those who came of age then may be more inclined to laugh at scenes in which Jim has to sneak an inebriated, half-naked teenager (Ali Cobrin) he used to baby-sit past her parents into her bedroom, or when he turns up at a party in bondage gear.
Somewhat funnier is a flashback to a dance competition featuring Oz. But overall, the level of wit and invention from writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg is well below their scripts for the three “Harold and Kumar” movies. (That franchise’s mascot, Neil Patrick Harris, also has a cameo as himself here.)
And then there’s Stifler defecating in someone else’s beer cooler.
“You’re a dick, but you’re our dick,’’ one of his buddies admiringly tells him. Generation X, this bud’s for you.