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Jim, Stifler and the rest of the gang are back in theaters this weekend with American Reunion, the first outing for the entire cast of American Pie since 2001. It appears to be headed for a respectable second-place finish in its opening weekend, but with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 44%, it seems many critics aren’t excited to revisit the sexual hijinks and humiliating situations the series is known for.
American Reunion sees Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott and Alyson Hannigan take their characters home to Michigan for their high school reunion. Back in familiar surroundings, the characters quickly revert to their old ways, even while dealing with grownup problems.
The Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore noted that like previous theatrical installments, the film expends much of its energy putting Biggs’ Jim in humiliating situations. DeFore wasn’t particularly amused by a repeat of the famous apple pie scene from the first film, writing: “being pantsless in the kitchen isn’t quite as endearing for a thirtysomething dad, and kicking the joke up a notch with frontal nudity — updating it for the Apatow age — just emphasizes how old this franchise is.”
DeFore praised Scott’s Stifler, calling the character “the rampaging id whose indignation at his peers’ maturity provides most of the film’s real laughs.”
In his three-star review, Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert also praised Scott’s performance, writing he “seems able to morph his face into an entirely new person: narrowed eyes, broad maniacial grin, frightening focus, still with all the zeal for seduction and adventure he had in high school.”
Ebert predicted fans of the earlier films would enjoy this installment, which heavily relies on references to the previous installments.
“The charm of American Pie was the relative youth and naivete of the characters,” Ebert wrote. “It was all happening for the first time, and they had the single-minded obsession with sex typical of many teenagers. American Reunion has a sense of deja vu, but it still delivers a lot of nice laughs.”
In a review published in the Los Angeles Times, Tribune Company film critic Michael Phillips questioned the film’s emphasis on nostalgia.
“Everyone in the ensemble keeps pushing the woebegone nostalgia angle, pining for their lost youth, eager to reactivate their now-dormant sex lives,” Phillips wrote. “Every other line, it seems, refers to ‘back in the day’ or ‘wasn’t this more fun when we were younger?’ or how ‘old’ they’re feeling. You’d think this was a remake of Cocoon.”
New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott found hilarity in Eugene Levy’s performance as Jim’s dad, who he wrote “once again steals the show with over explicit (but unimpeachably sensible) parental advice.”
Despite the praise, Scott noted the film more or less retreads old ground and continues its confusing portrayal of sexuality.
“The sexual attitudes in this series have always been all over the map, a stew of lechery, revulsion, longing and sheer childish terror — and that’s just the guys,” Scott wrote. “Female sexuality remains a source of confusion. Much as the boys slobber and gawk, nothing scares them more than a woman who actually seems to want to go to bed with one of them.”
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