American Reunion

American Reunion is one of those movies that you’d expect would fail because it is the fourth sequel in the long dead original American Pie franchise.  Surprisingly though, the fourth entry in this series proves to be the funniest the series has ever been.  American Reunion sees all of your favorite characters from American Pie like Jim, Michelle, Finch, Oz, Stifler, Kevin and Heather all return for their high schools 13 year reunion.  Jim, Finch, Oz, Kevin and Stifler are all contemplating whether they made the right decisions for their life once they graduated from college.  Some of the boys have done well for themselves and others feel a bit lonely and long for the glory days of high school when they were popular.  Jim and his wife Michelle are having problems in their marriage because they have been unable to have sex since their son Evan was born.  Before the reunion begins Jim is reintroduced to a girl named Kara who he babysat as a teenager.  She is obsessed with making Jim the person she shares her first time with and Jim has to decline and avoid her throughout the film.  The other storylines of the film are pretty basic and Jim’s plot is the one that gets the most laughs.  

In an ironic turn of events as much as I hate the character of Steven Stifler, he is the character I ended up caring about most.  Stifler was always the life of the party in the American Pie films and in this story Stifler is a nobody because he is the guy that is constantly trapped in high school.  To be honest, I know guys like him and to see it depicted on screen so well by actor Sean William Scott hurt a bit more because I know people like him.  I found myself constantly pulling for Stifler’s friends to cut him a break while simultaneously hating Stifler for his gross level of immaturity.  Another positive of this film is that all of the characters are fully fleshed out now so there’s no need for the plot to pander to the audience by educating them on the backstory of each character.  At no point in the film did I feel like any of the characters had no personality.  This is one of the few cases in cinema where keep characters exactly the same as they were 10 years ago is a good thing.

The one major negative of the film is that naturally with a film that has so many characters not all of them are going to get a decent storyline.  Alyson Hannigan’s Michelle only storyline is that she wants sex with her husband and isn’t getting any.  Personally I believe that suspicions of infidelity would have tied in nicely with Kara’s pursuit of Jim.  The writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg who also directed the film and co-created the Harold and Kumar trilogy elected not to go that route.  I believe the pacing slows down in the last third of the movie and when I’m watching a comedy I want hilarity to ensue until the credits roll.

Regardless of problems American Reunion is a very satisfying final piece of pie and Jason Biggs (Jim) and Sean William Scott (Stifler) who executive produced the film should be happy because they did fans of the franchise proud.

 

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Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror stars Lilly Collins, Armie Hammer and Julia Roberts.  The film basically revolves around the fairy tale of Snow White.  This film is essentially a children’s comedy.  Snow White’s father fell in love with the evil queen and was called away on a mysterious mission from which he never returned.  Snow White now an orphan was looked after and treated horribly by the queen.  When the queen discovers that a new prince is coming to town she does everything in her power to gain his affection.  Snow White encounters the prince at a royal ball and the two genuine people naturally hit it off.  The queen sees Snow White’s interaction with the prince and banishes her to the dark forest where she meets and befriends the dwarfs.  The dwarfs teach Snow White to become a thief and together they rob from the rich to give to the poor townspeople.  Snow White and the prince eventually cross paths again where they have to battle a huge monster that inhabits the forest.  The test of bravery both characters show causes them to fall in love with each other and together Snow and the prince stop the queen from being the tyrant of the kingdom.

This film offers very few original story elements that differ from the story’s premise and this may be one of the few times during the year where that’s a passable offense.  The most unique things about this film  are the set and costume design.  This film feels akin to if Bollywood were Americanized as a film genre.  All of the colors on character’s clothes are very bright and loud.  The castle looks something closer to an Arabian palace than a castle.  All of those small touches give the film a distinct look and feel that differs from other adaptations of Snow White’s story.  One very interesting bit of character detail is that in this film the dwarfs were at one time working and productive citizens in the kingdom.  The queen’s greed and lust for power put the dwarfs out of work and essentially forced them to become thieves.  The best dialog scenes of the film actually come from the dwarfs.  The jokes fly furious and fast whenever they are in conversation with anyone in the film.

The major problems of this film were caused by poor screenwriting and direction.  This film was funny for the most part, but while design touches are great I never found myself drawn in wanting to know more about Snow White as a character.  I wanted to feel her journey and be emotionally invested in the strife she faced but she just never connected with me and the fault rests with the screenwriter not actress Lilly Collins.  She did the best she could with the material she was given.  Julia Roberts completely overdid her role as the evil queen.  Her hated and dislike for Snow White never felt like it had much motivation.  I can understand if Snow White had done numerous small things to upset the queen but that is not the case here.  Julia Roberts performance just felt incredibly flat.  Armie Hammer did manage to impress in his scenes as the prince however.  He added a level of class to what is generally a very small part.

Overall, Mirror Mirror was a fun time at the movies but not one you’re likely to treasure in the same way people adore the 1937 Disney classic.

 

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