Some sequels are made to appeal to the fans of the originals as a sense of nostalgia. Movies for audiences of years gone by with an unlikelihood of renewing interest in the franchise they come from but satisfying the original audiences. And some sequels are nostalgia. American Reunion is built around that as the main focal point since it is, as you guessed it by the title, a high school reunion. Thirteen years have passed since the guys and girls of East Great Falls have graduated high school, nine years since the wedding of Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), and varying years since the multiple straight-to-DVD spinoffs that ensued, all starring the one common denominator: Eugene Levy. That brings us to the present.
No time is lost catching up on where the graduates have wound up. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is relationship-whipped, married and works from home. Oz (Chris Klein) is a sportscaster in Los Angeles who has a supermodel girlfriend (Katrina Bowden). Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has been missing and Stifler (Seann William Scott) is the same guy he was in high school, except a temp at an office. Jim and Michelle have a two-year-old son and have been having trouble with their sex life so the underlying premise of the movie is to get that resolved.
The guys, minus Stifler, make plans to get together before the actual reunion but has an unexpected guest with Stifler shows up. Of course, they’re able to cover this up but are now stuck with him for the rest of the weekend. While they all have (mostly) moved on and grown up, Stifler is still the same guy he was in the first three films. On one hand, it’s eye-roll-worthy but on the other hand, it emphasizes what made the American Pie series what it was. Stifler remains the immediate connecting point between those long-past films and this one.
Pretty soon, the expected antics start to fall into place. The jokes in American Reunion are rather predictable with the actual episodes going only slightly beyond what would be expected. Some surprises arise but otherwise, the things that happen are pretty much inevitable. The surprise is mostly in how the movie can work without being too repetitive but also not sacrificing the familiarity by trying to appeal too much to new audiences who weren’t necessarily around for the originals.
The movie does bridge the gap between the then and the now. The 90s, like any decade, is defined by many aspects but the most important one is the music. There are dozens of songs featured in the film including newer ones from LMFAO, Neon Tree, 3OH!3 and Cobra Starship but the real sense of nostalgia comes with the late 90s hits that only a child of the 90s can truly appreciate in the context of a reunion: The Freshman, Closing Time, Tubthumping, Never Let You Go, and of course the song that has become the unofficial theme of the American Pie series: Laid by James.
American Reunion does what you expect it to do by provide an update on where the graduates have been since the last movie. It relies on the sense of nostalgia that any child of the 90s would crave and it really delivers. Sure, there’s some recycled gags and jokes that were overdone in the first three movies but I wouldn’t really want anything else.