This is one of those films that relies a good deal on sentimentality, and as such your enjoyment of American Reunion (a.k.a. American Pie 4) will depend on your tolerance for basking in past glories. Certainly there is little reason for this film to exist beyond a loyal audience’s curiosity as to what happened to that likeable bunch of high school kids we last saw nearly ten years ago.
Original series writer Adam Herz seems to be MIA (his last credit was 2003’s second sequel) so Harold & Kumar franchise veterans Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg step in as both writers and directors, and the change is more or less seamless. The characters are quite believably moved forward several years, with Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) now parents whose marriage has begun to lose its spark; Oz (Chris Klein) is a TV sports presenter in LA with a bimbo girlfriend; Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a domesticated house-husband; and loudmouth Stifler (Seann William Scott) is still living at home with, er, Stifler’s Mom (Jennifer Coolidge) while temping in an office. Only Finch’s (Eddie Kaye Thomas) backstory doesn’t quite hang together, thanks to an 11th hour twist; but it doesn’t spoil the story much.
From here it’s very much business as usual: pratfalls aplenty, drunken parties, the odd gross-out gag and a few more life lessons learned. Even some of the jokes are recycled from earlier entries. But the cast still spark nicely together; it is after all down to them that the series has endured for as long as it has. Without getting too mushy, it’s a real pleasure to see them back together (which is probably why this fourth film was bankrolled at all). It’s a solid enough entry in the franchise, coming in above American Wedding but below the first two films (I’ve not seen the numerous – and widely reviled – direct-to-dvd spin-offs). Unquestionably it’s aimed at the series’ fanbase, but newcomers will probably find much to enjoy as well, particularly if they’ve ever harboured doubts about meeting up with old school friends many years after graduating.