American Reunion

April 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Alyson Hannigan
Directed by: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (“Harold & Kumar” series)
Written by: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (“Harold & Kumar” series)

Slice it any way you want: “American Reunion,” the fourth theatrical installment of the “American Pie” film franchise, is the same expected dish that’s been served to moviegoers for years. There’s no whip cream dollop or vanilla ice cream scoop or streusel topping to sweeten the deal. The sequel does, however, feature the entire original cast for the first time since 1999, which proves valuable for those fans who enjoy nostalgia and want to see the series wrap up fittingly. Unless there’s a compelling reason to shoot a fifth movie and call it “American Funeral,” “Reunion” should satisfy that expectation.

Ignore the fact that the characters are rallying together for their 13-year reunion (“they missed the 10-year by a couple” is the unconvincing reason given about why they didn’t get together in 2009) – the crop of sexually charged, baby-faced teens from the ’90s are all grown up with real responsibilities. With the exception of everyone’s favorite douchebag Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott), the gang has also become a lot more mature. Besides keeping the baked good safe from penetration, this little leap into adulthood turns Reunion, even more than 2003’s “American Wedding,” into the Stifler Show.

Scott, who along with actor John Cho (“Star Trek”) has had the most successful career of all the cast members post-“Pie”, owns his character, which is probably why a majority of the jokes and gags involve him in some smutty way. Stifler hasn’t evolved much, and no one wants him to. All will be right with the raunchy-comedy world if at the age of 80 Stifler has advanced into the dirty-old-man stage.

There are plenty of other mainstays to consider if searching for more thoughtful character development, like lovable loser Jim (Jason Biggs), who is trying to be a respectable husband and father, and Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy), who is now a widow. It’s a sentimental departure by directors/writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (the “Harold & Kumar” trilogy) that occasionally works well when combined with some funny memories and set pieces from the kids’ high school days.

But again, it’s the scene-stealing Stifler who commands the screen for better or worse. No matter how old he gets, he’s exudes the frat boy variety of misogynistic tendencies, which don’t seem to bother anyone since he’s such a moron. Lose him, and there would be no reason for this franchise to exist. What would Tara Reid do then?

Role Models

November 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Directed by: David Wain (“The Ten”)
Written by: David Wain (“The Ten”), Paul Rudd (debut), Ken Marino (“The Ten”)and Timothy Dowling (debut)

When you look back at some of the roles actor Seann William Scott has played over the years, the term “role model” isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind. Most of them tend to center around chauvinistic, moronic, and promiscuous characters. (His Steve Stifler alone probably caused fathers of high-school-aged daughters to scale way back on curfew hours.) In “Role Models,” his alpha-male tendencies are balanced out well with the softer Paul Rudd.

Working as energy-drink peddlers and anti-drug spokesmen, Wheeler (Scott) and Danny (Rudd) visit high schools to give students a caffeinated alternative to getting high. Wheeler loves his job as the company’s official mascot, the mythological Minotaur, because it allows him to half-ass his way through life and focus on more important things, like getting laid. Danny, however, is bored and frustrated, and it’s affecting his relationship with his successful-lawyer girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks), who is fed up with his resentfulness. When Danny reaches his boiling point (they have a little mishap with their company monster truck), he and Wheeler are sentenced to 150 hours of community service at Sturdy Wings, a Big Brother-type organization run by rehabilitated bad girl Gayle Sweeny (Jane Lynch).

There, Wheeler and Danny are matched up with two kids: Augie Farks (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, aka McLovin from “Superbad,” who avoids the Jon Heder “Napoleon Dynamite” typecast trap by actually staying funny after his nerdy breakout role), a lonely teenager caught up in his own little world of medieval role-playing, and Ronnie Shields (Bobb’e J. Thompson), a foul-mouthed grade-schooler raised by a single mother and obsessed with “boobies.” Ronnie has managed to scare off every one of his “bigs,” but Wheeler knows if he doesn’t get through this mandated mentoring program he’s going to be thrown behind bars, where he’s more than sure his pretty-boy image will attract unwanted physical attention. While Wheeler has trouble with his “little,” Danny is just trying to pass the time watching Augie pretend sword fight without really connecting with him on a personal level.

Many viewers might be unfamiliar with director David Wain’s comedy (he helmed and starred in the short-lived MTV series “The State” in the ’90s), but “Role Models” is a version of what he and some of the show’s original cast members can do with a more mainstream script. It’s not nearly as deadpan as “The State” (the vulgarities are many), but Rudd, as a first-time screenwriter who has probably been taking notes while on the set with director-writer-producer Judd Apatow on so many occasions, adds a hipper sense of humor and heart that has made comedies like The “40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” more entertaining than your run-of-the-mill R-rated shtick.