Pointless seems to fit the description of American Reunion. After all, we don’t need to see Jason Biggs sexually humiliated on screen yet again. It’s not as if there’s character growth involved there, or at least not the type people want to see…
The thing is, we expect to see him humiliated. We expect Stiffler to sex it up endlessly as the world’s most endlessly eligible bachelor. It wouldn’t be American Pie otherwise, although the direct-to-video division of Universal never quite understood that.
No, Reunion doesn’t go anywhere. It’s much like the abysmal Grown Ups in that it exists as an excuse to put familiar faces on screen. The difference? Reunion has characters we know, maybe even grew up and familiarized with (although most would never admit it publicly). There’s an attachment there, even if it’s a sticky one that leads to uncomfortable situations. Universal knows it, franchise fans know it, and so we end up here.
The ultimate goal isn’t to get laid, have a bachelor party, or anything else for that matter. The grand five-some’s existence is all that counts, along with a smattering of side characters. So intensely focused is Reunion the only new element -a baby for Biggs and Alyson Hannigan’s characters- is dropped after the opening scene. They use the poor kid for a one off gag.
Familiar faces creep in, virtually peeking from the sides of the screen for their cameo, before wandering off into that sunset to join most of the Pie alumni. Misunderstandings ensue around said bit players to give the plot something to latch onto, and then someone craps in a cooler. It’s art.
The film wanders around, relishing Stiffler’s antics, still played poignantly by Sean William Scott. There’s the occasional scuffle, realizations that the crew is getting old, and plenty of botched romance. Reunion even dips into romantic comedy territory, the inevitable break up sequence rolling into the script as if on cue, setting the stage for the closure… or the inevitable nostalgic sequels to follow. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
If American Reunion’s AVC encode stuck around like it did in the beginning, this one would be trouble. Situated on the walls and behind the bed Jason Biggs does, uh, “stuff” in is a sickly layer of grain turned mush turned noise. It’s all over the place, and while it is at its peak here, this isn’t the only instance. A smattering of shots will reveal the same issue, albeit with less implications later into the feature.
Does it clear up? Of course. Reunion settles down nicely, comfortably working in an exceptional level of texture and striking close-ups. Shots that lose their definition are purely a work of the camera, not this disc. A little focal softness doesn’t deter the facial detail or environmental push for long.
Under the watchful eye of digital intermediates, the series is laced with burnt flesh syndrome ™ that bulks up the warmth at the expense of reality-based accuracy. Even when on the beach flesh tones look ridiculous. They come at a cost that seems worth it, the explosion of vivid primaries easily enjoyed as the film moves on. Saturation is high enough to render every object a keeper within this encode.
Black levels? Well, they exist. Issues of crush will seep into the transfer as does some fading that reveals the end result of some green screen work. A nighttime party on the beach could use a little help as well, coming and going as far as density is concerned. A heavy contrast works overtime to keep things in balance, going so far as to blot out some minor areas of the image, and the cause is admirable. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
There’s a little bit of material for Reunion’s DTS-HD mix to sink itself into, including a well suggested string of ’90s-era pop music to work from which will carry into the surrounds. You can’t miss the expansion as the soundtrack moves from being a focus to background material during the big reunion reveal. It’s well planned work.
For the video issues within the sequence, the opening captures a stray shower head spewing water everywhere in a circular motion, an effect landed accurately in this mix. Water is dominate during a jet ski splashing, although the beach that precedes it doesn’t offer much of anything. The front-loaded ambiance is dead.
Dialogue is fine and in balance, spot on in that regard. Reunion misses a few aural cues (bars, parties) in how they’re mixed, but for a comedy of this nature, it works. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Universal puts a whole bunch of bonuses on the disc in an effort to make it appear spruced up, and in a lot of ways this home version is. To make something immediately apparent, the unrated cut? Not worth it. There’s one minute of extra footage, and where it is could be anyone’s guess. A commentary from co-writers and co-directors Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg is up first, followed by the “Out of Control” track. The cast periodically steps into the frame visually to goof off or once in a while provide something of interest. This is in the theatrical cut only.
Seven deleted scenes (7:51), 13 extended (26:25), and a handful of alternate takes (3:53) have a smattering of worthy material, while a gag reel will probably satisfy better. The “Reunion” Reunion is a slightly promotional EPK that details the return of the cast and franchise as a whole. Best of Biggs tracks the actor through the set as he does stupid stuff for our own amusement.
Lake Bake digs into the beach footage and how hot the set would become (literally). Dancing with the OC shows how much work Chris Klein put into the dance sequence. American Gonad-iators is a brief look at the fight in the movie against the younger generation. Jim’s Dad is all about Eugene Levy, and Ouch! My Balls will take one through the backstage art of ball punching. That last one is directly quoted from the press release. All of these smaller pieces come in at around 20-minutes total.
There’s still one thing left to give, and that’s the Yearbook. This is an interactive piece that looks back at the main (and some less so) characters of the series and their evolution as the series went on. Clips from all the films are included for a slice of nostalgia. It’s well put together. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Extras]
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