REVIEW: Beyond the raunch, 'American Reunion' is a comedy with heart

“American Reunion” steps up to the plate hoping to hit a home run in light of recent comedy blockbusters “The Hangover” and “Bridesmaids.” While far from perfect, the film boasts a few laugh-out-loud moments and a charming reunion of the original cast.

The original “American Pie,” released in 1999 revived the raunchy comedy genre at the box office, which had lost some popularity after the 1980s. But it also spawned a laundry list of bawdy sequels, potentially digging its own grave in the process.

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Separating “American Reunion” from the heap of direct-to-DVD sequels is the return of the original cast and a screenplay with a genuine heart at the core.

“Reunion” wants to remind us that we’re never too old to be juvenile. Jason Biggs leads the original cast through the tribulations of returning to high school as adults still facing their teenage stereotypes. Between the raunch, the film sweetly touches upon pain of yearning for your youth, the changes in teenagers’ habits in just over a decade and the necessity of taking control of your life and relationships.

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    Highlighting the film are polar opposite comedians Eugene Levy, reprising his role as Jason Biggs’ wise-but-blunt father and Sean William Scott as the trashy and lascivious Stifler, who is excellent at wrecking the present while still living in the past. The two actors show the extreme differences in classes of comedy and combining them here once again works really well.

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    While the scale of jokes is heavily tipped toward a male audience, surprisingly, “Reunion” is rather tame compared to the raunchiness of recent comedies. Still, for those unacquainted with previous films in the franchise, it may be a good idea to catch up before heading to the box office. Otherwise, you may find yourself feeling like you’re tagging along to a stranger’s high school reunion – sans open bar -- as groups of friends reflect on their immature pasts.