Reunited, and it feels so ... something
America loves reunions.
We love it when bands get back together and go on tour after a 15-year hiatus, paying more than $100 to hear the same songs we’ve been listening to for free on classic rock radio. VH1 used to have an entire program called “Bands Reunited” that we could watch to see if the lead guitarist and lead singer 1) could get over their mutual hatred and 2) could still hit those notes.
We love it when the casts of classic TV shows reassemble for a made-for-TV movie, even if we haven’t spotted those actors doing anything more impressive than “jury foreman” on a 2003 episode of “Law & Order.” Most of these reunions are creative disasters with atrocious writing, but every once in awhile, you get a “The New Leave It To Beaver” that lasts for six seasons.
And we love to put ourselves through the fun/humiliation of going somewhere for family reunions, military reunions or — eek! — high school reunions.
You would think Facebook would have made this irrelevant because now we know what the football stud and prom queen are up to (mostly, having kids and paying the mortgage). But when that invitation arrives, we try to lose weight. We try to look younger than we are with hair colors that don’t occur in nature. In the case of men, we divorce our wives in favor of someone our daughter’s age and pretend to have money we don’t have and do weird, Donald Trump-like things to ensure our bald spots don’t show.
Anywho, we bring this up because “American Reunion,” the fourth film featuring the original cast of “American Pie,” opens in theaters this weekend.
“American Reunion” continues the story that began with the 1999 hit film “American Pie” — a simple story about the misadventures of a bunch of teen guys trying to lose their virginity before graduation night.
Much like how “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” made household names of Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Phoebe Cates in 1982, “American Pie” launched Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Shannon Elizabeth and (for better or worse) Tara Reid into the public consciousness. Poor Alyson Hannigan, already notable for her role on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” might have been forever known as the girl who said, “This one time, at band camp … ” except she has co-starred on “How I Met Your Mother” for the past seven years.
“American Pie” sequels followed in 2001 (“American Pie 2”) and 2003 (“American Wedding”), and Jim (Biggs) kept having embarrassing sexual adventures while getting advice from his dad (Eugene Levy). Fun fact: Levy somehow worked his way into three additional direct-to-video “Pie” sequels that did not include anyone else from the original cast.
“American Reunion,” like the title promises, assembles the original “Pie” gang for a high school reunion in Michigan — up to, and including, Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge).
Besides giving us a chance to see what’s up with the characters, it got us thinking about other movies about reunions.
“The Big Chill”: After a friend commits suicide (Kevin Costner, who had almost every scene he was in cut from the movie), former college classmates at the University of Michigan gather for the funeral and a long weekend of reminiscing, getting over life disappointments and dancing to 1960s music (and fueling mid-1980s nostalgia for 1960s Motown tunes). William Hurt, Glenn Close, Kevin Klein and Jeff Goldblum were among the notables in the cast.
“Grosse Point Blank”: A hitman (John Cusack) returns to his hometown years after everyone has lost track of him to 1) take care of a job and 2) go to his 10-year reunion in suburban Detroit (what is the deal with Michigan reunions?), where he reconnects with a woman (Minnie Driver) he stood up at prom. The 1980s New Wave and punk soundtrack was just a bonus.
“Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”: Fans of actor James Dean get back together about 20 years after he came to their tiny, remote Texas town to film “Giant.” Based on a play, the film is largely forgotten except for giving future Academy Award-winner Cher her first major film role.
“Grown Ups”: Adam Sandler and pals get together years after they played on a successful youth basketball team. Many of his previous co-stars — David Spade, Rob Schneider, Tim Meadows, Colin Quinn, Steve Buscemi — have roles.
“Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion”: Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino are lifelong losers who pretend to be the ridiculously wealthy inventors of Post-Its at their 10-year reunion. Among them, cast members have an Oscar (Sorvino), an Emmy (Kudrow, Camryn Mannheim) and a Tony Award (Alan Cumming).
“The Wood”: Gathered for a wedding where the groom has cold feet, a man recalls growing up with his best pals in this 1999 film that starred Omar Epps and Taye Diggs.
“Peggy Sue Got Married”: In this 1986 comedy/drama, Kathleen Turner faints at her high school reunion and gets to go back in time a quarter century and choose whether to make the same mistakes again. Nicolas Cage and a VERY un-Jim Carrey-like Jim Carrey (seriously, he’s really restrained) co-star.
“That Championship Season”: Members of a winning basketball team reunite with their coach and are honest with each other for the first time. Note: Paul Sorvino was in the cast. Maybe he coached daughter Mira (see “Romy and Michelle’s …”) about how to do a reunion story.
“A Mighty Wind”: Folk singers from the 1960s reunite in 2003 for a public television special and face their hilariously entangled and broken romances, shattered egos and musical legacies. This is one of those Christopher Guest “mockumentary” films about a weird subgroup of humanity featuring his usual repertory group including Catherine O’Hara, Michael McKean, Jane Lynch and Jim’s Dad himself, Eugene Levy.
Whatever happened to …
And what has the cast of the original “American Pie” been doing since Jim had that adventure with baked goods?
Alyson Hannigan (Michelle): The onetime second-banana on “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer” has been a successful second-banana for seven seasons on “How I Met Your Mother.”
Jason Biggs (Jim): He headlined the critically savaged films “Saving Silverman” and “Loser,” and starred in last year’s short-lived CBS sitcom “Mad Love.” He recently guest-starred on “The Good Wife.”
Seann William Scott (Stifler): Arguably the biggest movie star of the bunch, he’s starred in “Dude, Where’s My Car,” “Old School,” “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Role Models.”
Mena Suvari (Heather): Iconic for her role in “American Beauty,” Suvari is extremely busy in films — often independent films that don’t make it to Springfield. (She did, however, co-star in “Rumor Has It” with Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner.)
Tara Reid (Vicky): She was briefly in big movies (“Josie and the Pussycats,” “The Big Lebowski”) and big TV shows (“Scrubs”). Last seen doing “Celebrity Big Brother.” In England.
Shannon Elizabeth (Nadia): Her “American Pie” success briefly led to roles as pretty girls in “Love, Actually” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” but her career has cooled of late.
Chris Klein (Oz): He was in “Rollerball” and “We Were Soldiers,” and starred in the short-lived sitcom “Welcome to the Captain.”
Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch): The man who played the boy obsessed with Stifler’s mom did two seasons of “Til Death” with Brad Garrett, and his voice is heard periodically on “American Dad.”
Contact Brien Murphy at 217-788-1515.