‘American Pie’ gang reunites for stale sequel

There’s very little pastry in “American Reunion,” the fourth film in a series that began with 1999’s “American Pie.” A kitchen scene, yes, and tasteless sex jokes and unfortunate events involving the main character’s genitalia. But no pastry.

If none of this rings a bell, perhaps you’ve forgotten the apple pie that figured so prominently in the success of the original movie, a slapdash teen comedy that hit the raunch button at just the right moment in film history.

Not only is the “Pie” crew back, but they’ve actually corralled more members of the original cast than were available for the last sequel, 2003’s “American Wedding.” A school reunion is the excuse this time.

While the characters may be older, and the actors definitely are, the jokes have remained the same. Married couple Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) have a kid of their own, and their sex life has gone stale, which leads Jim to his customary level of frustration.

Oz (Chris Klein) returns to town a TV star, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) are back from whatever they’ve been doing, and Tara Reid, Mena Suvari and Natasha Lyonne glide through in subordinate roles.

As ever, the main comic juice is provided by a young man named Steven Stifler, who doesn’t seem quite right in the head. He is personified by Seann William Scott, whose maniacal performance makes you wish that Stifler had better writers creating his foul-mouthed riffs.

“American Reunion” is written and directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. They wrote the first “Harold and Kumar” film (points for them) and directed the second one (points against them).

Hurwitz and Schlossberg keep the complications going, which is all you really need when throwing this many characters together again. Except for Stifler, I didn’t find very much of it funny, but at least it doesn’t go dead in the water.

The welcome grown-up figures returning to the show are Eugene Levy, as Jim’s dad, and Jennifer Coolidge, as Stifler’s mom. Levy always gets a few honest laughs in these things, but he really has to earn them.

There’s something to be said for watching characters grow up over time in a series of movies, but the “American Pie” movies operate on a low level of achievement even for that. You might feel something if you graduated from high school in 1999, in which case the jokes about a 21st-century teenager thinking the Spice Girls are “classic rock” will hit home. Otherwise, the dish is pretty stale.

“American Reunion” (2 stars)

The “American Pie” crew returns for a high school reunion, which allows them to get in a series of fresh disasters, although the jokes seem pretty stale. The series was never too inspired, but at least this one keeps the complications piling up, and Seann William Scott is around to generate a few foul-mouthed laughs.

Rated: R for nudity, language, subject matter.

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Meridian, Metro, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.

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