American Reunion  (Rated R)   3 Stars04-25-12-movie.jpg

Has it really been 13 years since this franchise got started? American Reunion (113 minutes) progresses the franchise in real time, which means the 10-year reunion has indeed been put off a few years. There is nothing truly terrible about this third sequel, but there isn’t anything really outstanding about it either. Jon Hurtwitz takes a break from directing stoner comedies and tries his hand at directing a teen-sex comedy in which most of the teens are now in their early 30s. Someone should have told him and his co-director/writing partner Hayden Schlossberg that fans actually care about things like character consistency … but more on that later.

All the major players return, in cameos if not as leads. Jim (Jason Biggs) is married to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). Oz (Chris Klein) has moved to LA where he hosts a Sport Center-type show and is living with a model/D-Lister (Katrina Bowden) named Mia. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is still uninterestingly earnest while also being married and apparently spending most of his time cooking and watching soapy melodramas. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is MIA and Stifler (Seann William Scott) has suffered a few reversals since American Wedding.

The film opens on Jim and Michelle, married with a child. They have settled into a rut, more interested in private time than each other. In an effort to break the routine they decide to head home for the reunion. Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy) plays host, and the little girl next door that Jim used to babysit (Ali Cobrin) offers some sitcom style hijinks.

It doesn’t take long for the guys to find Finch and Stifler, and get together for drinks, leaving Michelle at home to take care of the baby. Which, really? She’s being supportive and giving her husband time with his friends. But, see if you can count the number of times that Jim stays home nurturing his child while Michelle visits with her high-school crew. In fact, count the number of times Jim actually picks up his child period. Sigh.

Visiting the lake after a night of reinforcing traditional sex roles, the gang splits up into male and female groups so that the men with the Peter Pan complexes can ogle the teenage bikini girls and the women over 30 can huddle together seeking support in their twilight years. Kevin finds Vicki (Tara Reid irritating as ever) and they get a few lines of dialogue. Heather (Mena Suvari) shows up on the beach to deliver some exposition re-garding her relationship with Oz, and if there were any justice all four of them would wander off into the lake and get eaten by piranhas, leaving the rest of the movie to the interesting characters.

Not that the main characters have any interesting material to work with either. Finch seems depressed to be in yet another American Pie movie, even if he does seem to have gotten Stifler’s Mom (Jennifer Coolidge) out of his system. As a character, Stifler has completely degenerated. There are only so many jokes you can make about how men in their 30s like to look at nude teenagers be-fore crossing the border from comedy into disgust, particularly after American Wedding made such a point of maturing the character.

Overall, the entire movie is a bit depressing and lackluster. You will see characters behaving in ways entirely inconsistent with the first three main films. There are a few things to laugh at, and hardcore fans of the franchise (including the direct-to-video sequels) will probably enjoy all the cameos. And, yes, shortly after the credits start rolling there is a bonus sequence worth staying seated for.

Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.

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