A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although American Reunion tries to recapture the success of the original -- and equally raunchy -- American Pie, it doesn't quite succeed. What it does succeed at is being extremely crude and crass; there's both male and female nudity (including an extended shot of a man's penis), very suggestive sex scenes, and nearly constant talk of sex. There's also lots of drinking (including a very drunk 18-year-old), some drug use, and nearly constant swearing -- it's easier to try to count the sentences without profanity than to quantify the curses heard here. If teens have already seen the earlier movies in the series and can handle the content, then this won't be a departure; but if they're not, something less over-the-top would be a better pick.
What's the story?
It's been 13 years since the American Pie gang graduated from high school, and they've all grown up and gone their separate ways. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are still together and have added a kid to the family, Oz (Chris Klein) is a successful TV sports reporter, and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) seems to have dropped off the grid. But the siren call of an AMERICAN REUNION brings them all back home (they were a bit too disorganized to schedule it 10 years after leaving school), and they quickly find themselves rekindling old friendships -- and in some cases wondering whether the fire has truly gone out of some of those old flames. And of course, it wouldn't really live up to the original film's legacy of laughs if the entire weekend wasn't filled with liquor-fueled hijinks, thanks to inveterate troublemaker Stifler (Seann William Scott).
Is it any good?
Reunions are meant to remind you of the best of high school, but American Reunion serves as a reminder of a basic life lesson: Leave well enough alone. Though it's nice to see the gang all together again -- they did have amazing rapport in the original -- the bloom quickly falls off the rose, and it's clear that too much time has passed. We discover we don't much care anymore about the group, save perhaps for Jim and Michelle (and even then, it's only a little).
Since the first film was released, a stream of funnier, edgier ensemble movies and comedies has come and gone -- The Hangover, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Superbad -- and they've blazed newer, more memorable trails. The jokes here are tired; the takeaways predictable. (Marriage needs work? You don't say.) And the plotlines are flabby and bordering on creepy -- for example, the one about Jim and his next-door neighbor. It's a little like going to your own reunion and discovering that you're not as nimble, as hardy, or as, well, young as you once were. Only, if it was your own reunion, you'd hope to discover that you were wiser and better and happier. American Reunion, sadly, isn't.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what teens think of sex and what parents think of teens having sex. It's also a good opportunity for parents to answer whatever questions teens may have, both about values surrounding sex and about safe sex.
Do you think American Reunion is raunchier than the original? How does it compare to other over-the-top comedies in recent years? What other movies and TV shows reach for a laugh this way?
How have the characters changed since their high school days? How are their relationships different? Do you think this is a realistic look at how friendships and marriage change over the years?
- In theaters: April 6, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: July 10, 2012
- Cast: Alyson Hannigan, Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott
- Directors: Hayden Schlossberg, Jon Hurwitz
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, High School
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.