It may or may not be true that you can’t go home again, but perhaps you shouldn’t — judging by “American Reunion,” anyway, which brings back the cast of the 1999 sleeper hit “American Pie” and strands them in a dull and offensive movie that has none of the charm, smarts or sex appeal of the original.
Everyone at East Great Falls High apparently missed their 10-year reunion, but they’re all coming back for their 13th, a bit bruised by their experiences in the real world, which have apparently lacked the wacky shenanigans of their youth.
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Now that Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are parents to a toddler, they’re suffering marital-bed death and pursuing their orgasms separately. (Jim online, Michelle with the shower nozzle.)
Oz (Chris Klein) is now a big-time sportscaster, but he’s saddled with a nympho-shrew girlfriend (Katrina Bowden) who forced him into a humiliating stint on a “Dancing with the Stars”–ish show.
Work-at-home architect Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has become something of a henpecked husband, while former nerd Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) breezes into town with tales of world travel and adventure.
And then there’s Stifler (Seann William Scott), who’s a put-upon temp at work but still rude and crude in his off hours.
And what about the women, you ask? Well, “American Reunion” doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in them, which is a pity, since one of the bolder aspects of the “American Pie” series is its acknowledgment that teen girls can be just as horny as teen boys without being dirty, dirty sluts.
This time, however, they’re mostly plot-device set dressing for the fellas: Did Oz make a mistake not settling down with Heather (Mena Suvari)? Can Kevin’s marriage survive the torch he still carries for Vicky (Tara Reid)?
And if you were hoping that Natasha Lyonne’s sardonic Jessica would inject some much-needed comedy into this dreary and sophomoric catastrophe, she’s relegated to just one scene towards the end, during which the fading embers of “American Reunion” emit one last flash of light before completely dying out.
The sex jokes of “American Pie” were raunchy, yes, but they were also kind of daring (13 years later, we’re still talking about that titular baked good), and the film’s naughty content was balanced out by the sweetness of the characters. That’s a notion completely missed by “Reunion” writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (the guys behind the “Harold & Kumar” movies), who give the movie a misogynist streak a mile wide.
Bad enough that the film is smutty and that most of the female characters are either bores or bitches, but there are almost no laughs, save what Scott valiantly squeezes out of Stifler’s antics.
Even old pros Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge (as Jim’s dad and Stifler’s mom, respectively) are given so little to do that I found myself thinking about how long it’s been since Christopher Guest made a movie.
Some memories are best left in the past — re-watch the first two “American Pie” movies if you’re feeling nostalgia for these characters, but avoid “American Reunion.” It’s the kind of get-together that makes you wonder if you ever liked these people in the first place.