AMERICAN REUNION (Rated R)
For today’s youth market, the delectably humorous “American Pie,” though familiar in pop culture, will not be as fresh as, let’s say, baked goods straight from the oven.
The sexual frustrations of high school seniors in 1999 was the foundation for plenty of raunchy humor, and by contemporary standards, “American Pie” is now almost dated.
In the intervening years, we’ve been subjected to the crude humor generated by Judd Apatow’s school of comedy, from “Superbad” to “Knocked Up” to “Bridesmaids,” just to name a prominent few.
Now, for no apparent reason other than to cash in on the good name of the “Pie” franchise, along comes “American Reunion,” which wants to recapture some of the original film’s underlying sweetness. And in spite of the misfires of previous sequels, it actually does.
Yet, the modern climate almost requires descending to the elemental nature of crude humor, whether brilliantly realized in “The Hangover” or uncouthly hewing to “American Pie’s” unfortunate straight-to-video disasters.
“American Reunion” is a gamble by any measure, as its focus on a high school reunion that takes place, oddly enough, 13 years later is a sign of something off-kilter.
To enjoy a sequel happening so many years later, “American Reunion” demands familiarity with all the lovable characters, from the Stifmeister and Finch to Jim’s dad and Stifler’s mom.
The nominal protagonist is the awkward good guy Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs), who married his high school sweetheart Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). Now, they have a toddler son, but a sex life gone stale.
Jim, of course, remains famous for a viral YouTube posting of his sexual antics in his school days. A return to East Great Falls for the reunion will rekindle a lot of memories, many of them embarrassing.
The reunion brings together the other familiar old school pals. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) travels the world on his motorcycle, and we wonder if we will reunite with Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge), who remains as lustful as ever.
Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), now also married, is an architect. The flamboyant Oz (Chris Klein) has found his place as a sportscaster and competitor on “Celebrity Dance-Off.”
Both Kevin and Oz, one married and the other in a committed relationship, find some old passions rekindled when their former loves, Vicky (Tara Reid) and Heather (Mena Suvari) respectively, also show up.
Only Stifler (Seann William Scott), eternally crash and rude, with his wicked smile expressing unrestrained mischief, lingers in a state of perpetual adolescence.
Whether it is doing something unspeakable to someone’s beer cooler or hitting on high school girls by faking interest in “Twilight,” Stifler continues to be game for adventure and temptation.
Come to think of it, Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy), always ready to give his son unwanted advice on sexual matters, is a comforting constant presence, because he’s so damn funny.
Some of the best humor involves the discomfiting and embarrassing situations that usually ensnare the often inept and clueless Jim, even now that he’s all grown up.
A classic case is when Jim ends up in a compromising position with the drunken, naked body of the hot 18-year old neighbor Kara (Ali Corbin) that he used to babysit.
As Jim tries to get Kara back up into her bedroom undetected, Oz, Stifler and Finch fumble through clumsy efforts to preoccupy Kara’s parents from discovering an unpleasant truth.
The agreeable reality of “American Reunion” is that, even if it is an irrepressibly ribald comedy with plenty of coarse gags, it is just outright funny.
To fully appreciate the bawdy humor one must be familiar with the “American Pie” franchise, but only the films that made it to a theatrical release.
TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL
One of the few good reasons to come to Los Angeles, other than for nice weather and great beaches, is the third annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, from April 12 to April 15.
Many of the classic films will feature prominent celebrities or film directors leading discussions. For instance, Mel Brooks will be on the program for a screening of “Young Frankenstein.”
As noted in this space a few weeks ago, legendary filmmaker Stanley Donen will appear to talk about his films “Charade,” “Funny Face” and “Two for the Road.”
To honor the 50th anniversary of James Bond, there will be a special screening of “Dr. No.” Eunice Gayson, memorable as Sylvia Trench, will be the host, along with later Bond girl Maud Adams.
Notable stars will appear in discussions at many screenings. Kim Novak will do the honors for “Vertigo,” Kirk Douglas for “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” Angie Dickinson for “Rio Bravo,” and Robert Wagner for “The Pink Panther.”
The appearance of producer Robert Evans and screen writer Robert Towne for the classic noir film “Chinatown” is certain to be one of the many TCM highlights.
Opening night features the World Premiere Restoration of “Cabaret” with Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey participating in the discussion.
The TCM Classic Film Festival just keeps getting better and more impressive. Film buffs should not miss out on this grand adventure.
Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.