Everybody Loves the '90s

Or at least so says Hollywood, with this week's 3D release of 'Titanic' and the long-awaited Pie-pic 'American Reunion'

As in any reunion, the idea is to recapture a bygone feeling—that is, to echo the Pie films that came before. Jim will engage in an awkward birds-and-bees chat with his father (Eugene Levy) and be summarily subjected to public humiliation. Stifler will stay on the shots-and-tits hamster wheel, acting exactly like Stifler. Basic truths about sex and intimacy will be rediscovered and reinforced. Boobs will make an appearance. The character of Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) will continue to be dead weight.

After some strained "Remember the time . . ." callbacks to 13-year-old gags, American Reunion gets comfortable and funny, as Hurwitz and Schlossberg hit familiar marks from unexpected angles, while the ensemble interplay is "routine" in the best sense of the word. Taken altogether, the Pie movies offer a cohesive worldview, showing each of life's stages as the setting for fresh-yet-familiar catastrophes, relieved by a belief in sex, however ridiculous it might look, as a restorative force. The recipe is so durable and the sustained character work—more arrested development than development—so second skin by now, one can imagine the Pie films keeping with the dramatis personae through middle-age and into the problems of geriatric love, a raunch-comic version of Britain's documentary series Up, which revisits the same subjects every seven years: American Midlife Crisis? American Retirement? American Funeral? Let's go!

 

This is your brain on boobs
This is your brain on boobs

Details

Titanic 3D was written and directed by James Cameron; and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Gloria Stuart, Victor Garber and Bill Paxton. Rated PG-13.

American Reunion was written and directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg; and stars Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Mena Suvari and Seann William Scott. Rated R.

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This review appeared in print as "I Love the '90s: The shelf life of Clinton-era nostalgia, tested in Titanic 3D and American Reunion."

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