CRITIQUED: AMERICAN REUNION

It’s a rare occurrence when a movie franchise remains true to its core values throughout its entire stretch of films. No matter what new technology, camera trick or ingénue of the moment appears, if we as moviegoers believe these new toys won’t mean the true connection we had with the franchise isn’t abandoned, we’ll keep watching, buying merchandise, rooting for the actors’ success. Even if you loved The Godfather, Part III you knew it was nowhere near as good as the first two. The first three Star Wars films galvanized a generation; the last three, arguably, ruined it. And don’t even get me started on The Matrix.
No matter how you felt about these movies, you went out of your way to see them. You honestly can’t have a collection without the few stinkers it produced. So as far as the American Pie series goes, it’s my belief you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who disliked the first three motion pictures (I’m not referring to the direct-to-video American Pie Presents: films in this review. You’re welcome.), where Jim, Kevin, Finch and gang became the Porky’s characters of the 21st century. And unlike Porky’s 2, the creators of this franchise have managed to blend gross-out, juvenile comedic mastery with endearing, heartfelt and honest moments over now a fourth film, without sacrificing the reality of it all.
While the first American Pie was about self-discovery and innocence in the throes of ‘90s teen pop culture, American Reunion is more about self-acceptance and the hardships friends face with the realization that they’re no longer teenagers, no matter how much they try and keep up with the next generation at frantic speeds.  “The more things change, the more they stay the same” is the adage of the day for these childhood buds, however, and none more so than Steve Stifler, played once again by Seann William Scott. Stifler’s antics are that of legend, but you’d have to wonder if even he amazes himself with the lengths he goes to for his friends.
And even though we have strong story lines for the peripheral characters from the franchise—Kevin and Vicky (Thomas Ian Nicholas and Tara Reid) are still awkward and cute around each other after 15 years; Oz and Heather (the returning Chris Klein and Mena Suvari, who skipped American Wedding) try to rekindle a romance with complicated circumstances; and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), well, being Finch—this series has always been (and should always be) about Jim (Jason Biggs), and boy, he doesn’t disappoint. It’s almost as if he is the same guy from 13 years ago, yet at the same time he’s changed completely. His moments with his wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), the guys, and anyone else for that matter, are as delightfully quirky and cringe worthy as in the beginning, and he with Eugene Levy as Jim’s Dad play off one another so effortlessly you’d think they’re actually father and son. Credit goes to Biggs for maintaining that awkwardness and clumsy confidence for so long in his career.
If you’ve grown up with these characters, it is a real delight to see them at play once again in American Reunion. The chemistry between them all is truly evident, and though there is a bit of finalit

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