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This Week at the Movies

American Reunion' has its charms, but is mostly unnecessary.

I feel the same way about “American Reunion” that I did about .

On the one hand, it’s nice to see some old familiar faces after an absence of many years. On the other, it’s a shame that they are drawn back together by a flimsy plot.

I’ll admit I’ve had mixed feelings about the “American Pie” films from the beginning. The first picture nearly sold me through the charms of its cast, but its mixture of raunchiness and romance didn’t quite mesh.

It wasn’t until the second in the series that I was sold. That picture was goofy and just as outlandish, but also had a sweet side. The third film – “American Wedding” – was mostly forgettable.

The most impressive element of “American Reunion” is that the entire cast from the first picture appears throughout the course of the film.

This is both a blessing and a curse. While it’s nice to see Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs), Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and Jim’s dad (scene stealer Eugene Levy), bit cameos from minor players in the film’s final third become grating and subplots involving Oz (Chris Klein) and Heather (Mena Suvari), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Vicky (Tara Reid) weigh the movie down.

Most of the film’s funniest sequences revolve around the debauched Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott), who is still living with his mother (Jennifer Coolidge) and working a temp job.

Stifler is still stuck in high school mode, while his friends have mostly grown up. A particularly priceless moment occurs when he hosts a keg party for the Class of ’99 at his home, only to find that his former classmates prefer sipping wine, listening to Frank Sinatra and having their babies in tow.

Another nice touch is when Stifler is shocked to find out that many of his high school Lacrosse pals were gay. But rather than resorting to the type of homophobic jokes that pictures in this genre typically peddle, the laughs are at Stifler’s expense. And this minor subplot even has a charming culmination near the movie’s end.

If only the rest of the film were as enjoyable. “Reunion” is not a bad movie, just an unnecessary one.

There is some potential for humor and insight when Jim and his pals observe the new generation of high schoolers and comment that they were never as obnoxious as this younger crowd.

Unfortunately, this moment is followed by behavior from its lead characters that prove they are just as immature.

And the movie’s five male leads take an odd post-graduation view of life, placing their experiences into two categories: the glory days of high school and everything afterward.

The “American Pie” films have always seemed to me as a series with some potential that has yielded mixed results. In the case of “Reunion,” it’s nice to catch up with a few of the films’ characters.

But should there be further “Pie” movies, it would be nice to see their filmmakers return to some of the elements that made the original two movies work.

"American Reunion" is playing at AMC Loews Bay Terrace.

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