The Reel Deal
A Reel Deal Film Review
By Tyler Malone
Reel Rating: 2 out of 5
“VH1′S I LOVE THE 90s”
Remember the 90s? We had our first black president (according to Toni Morrison, who called Bill Clinton exactly that). Newt Gingrich was always in the news. Health care reform was plagued by problems. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were charming our socks off in James Cameron’s Titanic. And the American Pie kids were graduating high school (and trying to do so not as virgins).
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? How the hell did we get back to the 90s? Once again we have our first black president (only this time he’s actually black), Newt Gingrich is back in the news to depress us all, health care reform is again sadly plagued by problems, Titanic (now in 3D!) has returned to theaters, and so have those kids from American Pie. American Reunion, the fourth film in the franchise, gets everyone from the original cast back together. But is that really that surprising? Is that some impressive feat? None of these people have careers. And do we really need to see what’s up with premature ejaculator Jim Levenstein or preternatural douchebag Steve Stifler over a decade later?
American Reunion, admittedly, is about as funny as it could have been. It’s certainly funnier than the second and third sequels, and by that I simply mean that it is actually watchable. The truth is that if you have any interest in seeing it, you’ll probably enjoy it, as it does its best and manages to coax out a few unexpected laughs amongst a plethora of conditioned ones. The whole time I was watching though I just kept asking myself the same question: Why? Why is the American public so obsessed with seeing sequel after sequel, long after stories have run their course, long after characters have overstayed their welcome, long after the well has run dry? In my view, it’s because of two contradictory strains that run through American culture: 1) we’re monster consumers always looking to eat up something new rather than going back to something old, yet 2) we’re by nature an oddly nostalgic people (perhaps out of some reaction to our relative lack of history). So instead of, ya know, going back and watching the original American Pie (which wasn’t really that great to begin with), we prefer a sequel (even though it’s inevitably worse), because it gives us a new chewtoy. Ruff, ruff. We as a people have somehow developed or inherited this Pavlovian response to the sequel and remake culture that Hollywood provides us with. Does it not depress anyone else that of the ten highest grossing films of last year, nine were sequels, and the only one that wasn’t was an adaptation of a TV show (The Smurfs)?
And yet, if we must rewatch an “old classic” (I use the term loosely) like Titanic, it better have bells and whistles added–namely 3D. In our innate nostalgia and in our contradictory drive to consume new cultural product, we end up doing neither truly. How much of our culture is ever really breathtakingly and mindbogglingly new? How many movies do you see in a year where you go “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that before!”? And yet, on the opposite end of the spectrum, how often do most of us really go back and rewatch the great movies of the last century?
I’d rather go back and watch a classic, or see a new classic in the making, than watch the rehash of old American Pie jokes that is American Reunion, but hey, who am I to stop you if all you really want is to see a guy shitting in a cooler on the beach and another guy sticking his hand in for a beer and coming out with feces-covered fingers? To each their own, I suppose, to each their own.
American Reunion is a film written and directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, using characters developed by Adam Herz. It stars Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, John Cho, Jennifer Coolidge, and Eugene Levy. Jim, Michelle, Stifler, and their friends reunite in East Great Falls, Michigan for their high school reunion.
Written by Tyler Malone
Photography Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Design by Jillian Mercado
Film Still from American Reunion, Photography Courtesy of Universal Pictures