There's a moment in "American Reunion," the latest serving in the "American Pie" series, when the Jason Biggs' character, Jim Levenstein, laments that "things will never be the way they used to be." He's talking about the old gang returning home for their 13th class reunion, but the sentiment fits the movie.
"American Pie" defined the teen sex comedy in 1999 with its sexual encounters of the apple pie kind, the introduction of the concept of MILFs, suggestions of ways to use band instruments that weren't musical and an obsession with sex that goes way off the Kinsey chart. There was something refreshingly crude about the five high school friends.
It's one thing to be that way when you are 18. Now that the buddies are thirtysomethings with jobs, families and responsibilities, their antics at a reunion smack of desperation and a little depravity. Unlike in the original "America Pie," these are not traits that generate laughs. What once could be dismissed as youthful indiscretions are now creepy.
The concept for "American Reunion" is fine. It's nice to get to catch up with Jim (Biggs), Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), Stifler (Seann William Scott), Oz (Chris Klein) and the rest of the gang. There are some sweet moments with Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Vicky (Tara Reid) and some funny moments with the worldly Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). There also are a scant few funny scenes with Oz, who is now a TV sportscaster, being on a version of "Dancing With the Stars."
Those moments get torpedoed by scenes of the guys hitting on teen-age girls and fighting with teen-age boys. Not only are the actions of the buddies sad, but, in many ways, they are criminal. There's nothing funny about that.
It doesn't help that this is the seventh film in the series (three of the offerings -- "American Pie Presents the Naked Mile," "American Pie Presents: The Book of Love" and "American Pie Presents Beta House" -- were forgettable direct-to-DVD releases). Any originality that came in the early films in the franchise is gone and scenes of male genitalia are no longer shockingly funny.
There is a slight nostalgic fun to seeing the ups and downs of the lives of these friends since growing up and moving away. But screenwriters Adam Herz, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg keep trying to force these characters into the same mold from 13 years ago.
The result is a film that feels like you're at a class reunion with everyone you hated in high school. All you can think about is when the evening will end.
"American Reunion," rated R for language, nudity, sexual content. Stars Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid. Directed by Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg. Running time: 106 minutes. Grade: D | Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.