Trailer Truth: 'American Reunion,' Do the Ads Help or Hurt the Movie?

Trailer Truth: 'American Reunion,' Do the Ads Help or Hurt the Movie?

Apr 06, 2012

I never watch a trailer until after I’ve seen the movie, and I also attempt to avoid as much news as possible. Then I compare what I knew, to what you knew. Let’s find out if what we see in the trailer is what we get, and if there is any advantage to going in fresh. (There will be spoilers.)


What I Knew Before: I knew these guys. I liked these guys. Did I need a reunion? I knew the whole gang was back together again, which is clearly the appeal to this sequel. You see, there have been seven Pies. American Pie, American Pie 2 and American Wedding were in theaters. American Pie Presents: Band Camp, American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile, American Pie Presents: Beta House, American Pie Presents: The Book of Love were straight to DVD.

Getting the gang back together always sounds like a fun idea, but are any of us shocked everyone was available? I'll attempt to focus on the positive here and say Seann William Scott, Alyson Hannigan and John Cho are the biggest success stories.

My hunch is, the trailer will focus on old jokes, and attempt to tap into our nostalgia. That means jokes about band camp and Stifler's mom. I hope I'm wrong. After all, with 13 years separating us from the original, it's new humor that will matter, not something that feels as stale as … Tara Reid. Most importantly, if they don't immediately explain why their reunion is occurring 13 years after they graduate, I will refuse to enjoy any of this Pie.

What I Knew After: Oh, it's a 13-year reunion. Seriously. Oh well. What do you do during a reunion? You talk about the old days. That means American Reunion feels like it is filled to the brim with lines like, "Remember that one time?" I counted four specific jokes about Stifler's mom, not to mention an eventual side plot where the tables get turned. Terrible/awkward things keep happening to Jim (Jason Biggs) even when logic would dictate a million different options. One example of this is a conversation Jim and his dad (Eugene Levy) have about how one day, Jim's son will masturbate. Keep in mind he's currently two. Everything is predicated on trying to make it gross. Making it funny seems secondary. What's worse is, the gang doesn't have "youth" to fall back on. That's what made the original work, they were dumb kids.


What You Knew: With "Bump n' Grind" and a bouncing bed starting us off, you know someone is having crazy sex. Wait, what? Jim and Michelle are taking care of their baby instead? On screen: TIMES HAVE CHANGED. Indeed they have, but apparently Stifler hasn't. On screen: THEIR LIVES HAVE CHANGED. Now they watch "Real Housewives." On screen: THEY'VE ALL GROWN UP. Our core men are back together. On screen: BUT THEY HAVEN'T SETTLED DOWN.

Wait, really? Didn't you just explain how they watch shows like "Real Housewives"? Isn't that the definition of settling? Stifler makes sure everyone is going to party hard, which includes crashing a high school party. Photo booth pictures remind us who all these people are, with the best one being Heather (Mena Suvari). She shows more life in that still photo than in any moment during the movie. American Reunion then proves that everyone (seriously, everyone) is back by showing John Cho, Shannon Elizabeth and Chris Owen. The kicker the trailer ends with is a drunk Jim's dad meeting Stifler's mom (Jennifer Coolidge). The party is over.

Trailer Truth: Did you notice the trailer does not reveal any sort of plot beyond the gang getting back together? The movie does try to create stories for each character, with the big one being Jim and Michelle aren't having sex. What's odd is, while the film definitely brings up the past whenever possible, the trailer doesn't. Jim's "sexy dance," band camp, Stifler's mom, and the pie are all meant to serve as nostalgic jokes during American Reunion. The trailer does manage to focus on Stifler, which is important because he's your main possibility for fun here. I can't believe the trailer shows Cho, Elizabeth, and Owen. They are nothing more than cameos in the film, meant to surprise you. After all, is anyone buying a ticket for this film because they know the Shermanator is making an appearance?

The trailer rightly milks the one good thing the film has going for it and that's Levy and Coolidge. While they are only on-screen for a few minutes, watching these two play off of each other is the best this movie offers. The trailer believes by just showing you the old gang, you'll be hooked. It fails to give you funny moments because the film just doesn't have them to offer. American Reunion would be a good idea if everything ended after American Pie. Unfortunately the trailer is left trying to hide how stale this franchise has become.

Categories: Features, In Theaters
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