I’m sorry to be the bearer but Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg‘s American Reunion (Universal, 4.6) isn’t funny. I sat there like a granite tombstone on a cold and windy November afternoon in a cemetery in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
Give the fans the old raunchy humor that they loved and responded to in ’99. But keep in mind that the characters (except for Seann William Scott‘s idiotic Stiffler) have to face up to reality and offer a semblance of maturity and reasonable behavior in the third act and blah, blah. This is one of the most tediously constricted exercises in conservative, ultra-white, suburban middle-class humor I’ve ever seen.
This movie is so constricted and afraid of itself and so white-knuckle terrified of how sexual desire can upset the social apple cart that Rick Santorum would probably find it amusing and agreeable. That’s because underneath the dick and poop and semen jokes it’s very pat, very safe, very middle-class, very “right down the middle.”
American Reunion is terrified of going in a truly perverse direction. It’s very, very concerned about propriety and observing limits and living up to community values and ideals. The term “anarchic” is not in the filmmakers’ vocabulary. Reunion hasn’t even a fraction of the truly twisted and surreal humor that you can find in parts of 21 Jump Street. And none of the wit.
The film doesn’t have the courage, for example, to allow Jason Biggs to have a moment of weakness and let the teenage girl next door fellate him a bit. Because he has to be guilty and conflicted about it, you see. A little action on the side if all he’s dreaming about night and day with he and his wife (Alyson Hannigan) having almost no sex with the kid and all, and then this girl falls into his lap and is ready to chow down, and all Biggs can do is go “homma homma homma homma I don’t think so”?
I was thinking about how Biggs was so much better and delivered such a richer, more interesting performance in Woody Allen‘s Anything Else.
The characters in American Reunion constantly feel or want something very basic or primal. Sex, loneliness, frustration with job or life. So they lie poorly and ineptly in order to cover that up. So poorly and ineptly that the people they’re sharing a scene with would have to be absolute morons not to notice the cover-up. Do they in fact notice it? Perhaps, maybe…but they don’t say anything. They let it go. And the scene just lies there. These scenes are repeated ad infinitum, and I have a news bulletin for Hurwitz and Schlossberg. Not. Funny.
Stiffler is ridiculous. He’s acting for the camera, fulfilling a stereotype, being a ham. It feels dishonest and also not funny. Are we to believe that Stiffler is such an unrepentant asshole that he’s never had a single moment’s meditation or inner reflection since ’99? Even though he’s 31 or so? Even the most outrageous idiots are modified and sanded down a bit by real life. And Vik Sahay, a short Indian guy who plays Stiffer’s dickhead boss, is equally tedious.
Yes, the sex life of a young married couple goes right downhill after the kid comes along. (I’ve been there. It does.) And that brings frustration and disappointment. And doing it outside the bedroom can be great. (Done that too.) But is that enough of an arc to hang a movie on for the two leads?
Hannigan looks like she’s 43 or 44. Those Irish genes or something. I know she was born in ’74 and was 25 in the original film and is now 37 or 38, but she REALLY looks a good ten years older than Biggs, who was born in ’78. He’ll turn 32 this year, but he could be 29 or 30 as far as his appearance in Reunion is concerned.
You can tell Tara Reid has had work on her face. (We already know about the boobs.) Mena Suvari looks fine. I loved Rebecca de Mornay‘s cameo at the end, but she’s had so much work you can barely tell it’s her.
American Reunion is a mediocre movie made by nice, safe, mediocre minds. I’m sure it’ll be hugely successful.