The sex-crazed teens are adults now, and stuck in a humor-free zone.
Rare is the movie that brings "American Pie" to mind and suffers by comparison, but here we have one. Like Circuit City or the Rocky Mountain News, this teen sex franchise has become a poster child for once-popular brands that haven't adapted.
The market for film comedy has changed since 1999, but "American Reunion" plays like an evolutionary throwback to pre-Apatow times. Though audiences now rightly expect a little heart with their raunch, the best this film can do is layer maudlin sentimentality atop stale jokes about tube socks and flutes. Thirteen years on, the hormonally tormented teens of the original films are grownups, but the film's point of view remains relentlessly juvenile.
Nine years after their marriage, Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are raising a toddler and are too pooped to pound the bedsprings. When he thinks the missus is otherwise engaged, he fires up his laptop, if you get my meaning and I suspect you do. In a bid to revive their relationship and regain the lost spirit of youth they decide to return home for a class reunion.
It's unfortunate for this film that it arrives soon after the release of "21 Jump Street," which also features an adults-reliving-high-school premise but is 50 times funnier.
Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, the screenwriters of the uproarious "Harold and Kumar" movies, have misplaced their sense of humor on this outing. The film is third-degree boring.
In scenes of autopilot exposition we learn that Oz (Chris Klein) is a sportscaster with a wild-thing girlfriend, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a house husband, Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is a daredevil explorer and Stifler (Seann William Scott) remains a braying jackass in his new life as an office flunky.
There are mechanical reversals as amiable, dull Jim desperately tries to escape the clutches of the lusty young woman he used to babysit. He must awkwardly offer love-life guidance to his now-widowed dad (the priceless Eugene Levy, lighting up every scene).
Glamorous Oz confesses that living la vida libido in L.A. is more of a grind than he could have imagined. Free spirit Finch, whose self-described adventures are suspiciously hard to verify, turns out to have a hidden dimension.
There is not a polished, pithy joke to be found. The script is a flavorless stew of soap opera level romantic humbug. Essentially, the young Romeos who saw a couch as a place for a wrestling match have become listless bores who'd use it for an afternoon of beer, pizza and TV. The movie's comic climax comes in a tacked-on end scene with Levy and Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler's bawdy mom. It's a hoot -- these old pros know how to pace, build and pay off a gag -- but too little, too late. As one often finds at reunions, the years have not been kind, the jokes are forced and it's a relief when it's over.