“American Reunion” lands in theaters this weekend, 13 years after Jason Biggs and company grossed us out with pastry and band camp jokes while making us laugh in “American Pie.”
Even though “Reunion” isn’t eliciting the same level of nostalgia as a certain love story that takes place on a now-3D ship, as Jen Chaney noted yesterday, the film still has a legacy to live up to. As Jen pointed out, “Pie” did bring the term MILF into the mainstream. Talk about cultural significance!
To get an idea of how the film’s brand of raunch holds up more than a decade later, we looked at how four critics reviewed both films. The Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan, for example, doesn’t think the franchise has aged well. But Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers still has love for the characters, as displayed by his reviews (both of which, you may note, contain a few of the same phrases.)
Read on to compare how four critics reviewed the films in 1999 and 2012.
Michael O’Sullivan for The Washington Post
“Pie”: “It’s filthy, fabulous fun that in the end has the good sense to put this chapter of the human comedy in perspective” ... It’s a “warped, hysterical and – believe it or not – sweet little gem of a movie.”
“Reunion”: “Like Stifler, ‘American Reunion’ simply refuses to grow up. It may even have regressed.” ... “There's precious little comedy mined from the fact that people change. It is least-common-denominator humor. In fact, it pushes R-rated movie boundaries: If you've ever wondered what a nude Biggs looks like smooshed up against glass, your prayers will be answered.”
Owen Gleiberman for Entertainment Weekly:
“Pie”: “ ‘American Pie’ doesn't have very memorable characters (many of the actors look bland enough to star in a sitcom based on the movie), but it does have a new spirit, a frank yet sweet-souled randiness. It's pitched to the first generation of male and female adolescents who have been taught, from birth (mostly by MTV), to act as sex objects for each other, and that's one reason that girls, I think, will flock to this movie as readily as boys.”
“Reunion”: “The recipe has been updated, and what once seemed like fatally warmed-over ‘Pie’ tastes new again.” ... “When [Jim's widowed father’s] initiation into the ways of raunch is complete, he announces, ‘I honestly think I had fun.’ After ‘American Reunion,’ I can say the same thing.”
Roger Ebert for The Chicago Sun-Times
“Pie”: “It is not inspired, but it's cheerful and hard-working and sometimes funny, and — here's the important thing — it's not mean. Its characters are sort of sweet and lovable. As I swim through the summer tide of vulgarity, I find that's what I'm looking for: Movies that at least feel affection for their characters. Raunchy is OK. Cruel is not.”
“Reunion”: “ ‘American Reunion’ has a sense of deja vu, but it still delivers a lot of nice laughs.” ... “[The film] seems to depend so much on nostalgia for ‘Pie’ history that I wonder if a first-timer to the series would feel a little out to sea. If you liked the earlier films, I suppose you gotta see this one. Otherwise, I dunno.”
Peter Travers for Rolling Stone
“Pie”: “It's a prime slice of raunchy fun about four desperate-to-be-devirginized Michigan high school seniors.” ... “All the performances are on the money, with Klein ... and Hannigan ... ready for the major leagues. But the standout is Biggs, who finds the heart and the hilarity in Jim.” ... “With teen movies reaching a formulaic, play-it-safe low point, as in ‘Varsity Blues,’ it's a kick to see ‘American Pie’ [expletive]-slap those guardians of good taste who would suck the vulgar life out of movies.”
“Reunion”: “It's been 13 years since the first ‘American Pie’ hit pay dirt with teens for [expletive]-slapping the guardians of good taste. ‘Pie’ launched two lame legit sequels and four direct-to-video abominations. But don't despair. ‘American Reunion’ reminds us what we liked about the original, which featured four desperate-to-be-devirginized Michigan high school seniors.”