American Pie: Reunion review

There is palpable relief that this sequel is just as funny as the first film was when it hit cinemas last millennium. It's well timed, despite a few oversights at the expense of the female characters, and also well judged.

The hype...
The gang are all back for the final instalment in the 'American Pie' series. More than a decade has passed since we saw Jim, Kevin, Finch and Oz together for the first time, and the acting careers of the stars that played them haven't exactly taken off as we expected. Is returning to an old franchise the act of desperate men, or is there something new to be said about these cherished characters?

The story...

The class of '99 are back. They are older, but seemingly none-the-wiser about the ways of the opposite sex.

Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are now married, but have little time for each other following the birth of their son. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a house husband, who still holds a torch for Vicky (Tara Reid) whereas Oz (Chris Klein) is living it up as a minor celebrity with a stunning girlfriend (Katrina Bowden).

Then there is Stifler (Seann William Scott), who is just the same and dreams of wild days gone by. He's still bitter about Finch (Eddy Kay Thomas) sleeping with his mother, but that isn't enough to put him off joining the gang for the latest high school reunion.

Jim's dad (Eugene Levy) is as irrepressible as ever, even though he is still coming to terms with the death of his wife. And so all the old gang return to their origins, but is this one last hurrah or a chance to kick-start their lives?

The breakdown...

There is something undeniably enjoyable about seeing this group of characters back together again. Ignoring the direct-to-DVD adventures that had only a passing nod to the three theatrical releases, this film is about reconnecting with a generation-defining experience.

The characters have aged wonderfully. They still have shades of their past lives, and so keep our fond memories alive, although Stifler remains utterly stuck in the past. This offers up new opportunities for comedy setups, and it's something that the script doesn't pass up.

The opening captures this perfectly as Jim and Michelle are up to their old tricks, but with a contemporary nod to their living arrangements. The laughs follow thick and fast, and the male group of friends get plenty of chances to show off what they are good at.

Eugene Levy once again stands out as Jim's dad. There is something disarmingly charming about his bumbling attempts to cope in any situation, and he is given ample room to flex his acting (and eyebrow) muscles.

The problem is with the misogynistic treatment of the female characters. In particular, newbie Kara (Ali Corbin) is unfairly targeted for some unnecessary treatment. She plays the sexy girl-next-door, but her advances feel crass even by the standards of this franchise.

Meanwhile the returning Tara Reid and Mena Suvari are largely overlooked, merely window dressing for the guys to project their past desires onto.

It's a shame, because the team behind the film are otherwise perfectly adept at sketching funny and, at times, clever material. The resolution leaves a warm glow, something that the series has done well in the past. Even though it goes for the jugular, there is a lot of heart in the midst of the bodily fluids and alcohol.

We even felt the desire to see the continuing adventures of this group of friends we have grown up with, but perhaps the focus should shift slightly to the girls as well.

The verdict...
Remaining thankfully true to its bawdy origins, 'American Pie: Reunion' is riotously funny and has the nostalgia factor in spades. Apart from a few misguided gags at the expense of the female cast members, this is a highly entertaining crowd-pleaser.

Rating: 3.5/5

'American Pie: Reunion' is released nationwide on 2 May. Certificate: 15.

Watch the trailer for 'American Pie: Reunion'