The American Pie franchise returns to respectability with this solid fourquel.
Though writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg are better known for their work with another storied franchise, the Harold and Kumar series, the duo manages to breathe new life into a franchise once determined dead-on-direct-to-DVD-arrival.
Everyone (and I do mean everyone) is back for this fourquel, which plays as both a brilliant inside joke and a fun standalone comedy. While I won’t give away too much of the plot, the story obviously revolves around the gang getting back together for the awkwardly-timed 12-year reunion (planned by one-half of the returning MILF duo, John Cho).
The film’s best comedy generally revolves around perennial douchebag Stifler (Seann William Scott), an annoying character in the original who here has been developed and made a much more interesting character, but the film’s heart lies with Jim (Jason Biggs), his former band geek wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and, of course, Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy, still one of the funniest character actors in the business). It is from these two main plotlines that Hurwitz & Schlossberg milk the film’s best moments.
Don’t get me wrong, the other main characters have solid arcs, too. Finch (the underrated Eddie Kaye Thomas), Oz (Chris Klein) and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) each have their moments, and there are some cool returning characters, plotlines and cameos. However, Hurwitz and Schlossberg smartly streamlined the arcs to make a compact, fun comedy that delicately balances humor and heart.
This balance is easily the film’s big success. I can only hope that it carries over to the inevitable fifth sequel. Until then, however, this is a worthwhile trip to a theater. You won’t be disappointed.