By PETERSON GONZAGA
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—It’s been 13 years since “American Pie” introduced us to Jim and his high school friends along with the unforgettable pie scene. In this fourth installment of the popular teen-comedy franchise, “American Reunion” also reunites filmgoers with the original cast, when they meet up for their East Great Falls High reunion.
Reprising their roles are Jason Biggs (Jim), Alyson Hannigan (Michelle), Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin), Tara Reid (Vicky), Mena Suvari (Heather), Chris Klein (Oz), Seann William Scott (Stifler), Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch), Jennifer Coolidge (Stifler’s mom) and Eugene Levy (Jim’s dad).
For the film’s producers, what better way to jumpstart the franchise than to hire writers-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (who co-wrote and directed some of the “Harold & Kumar” comedies). As long time friends since high school, the two helmers were also die-hard ”Pie” fans.
“We watched it over and over again,” says Schlossberg, about the original “American Pie,” directed by Paul and Chris Weisz. “We knew the franchise really really well.”
The duo previously directed John Cho in the “Harold & Kumar” films and who reprises his role a fellow with a fondness for older women in the “Pie” movies.
It was as much as a challenge for filmmaker as it was to keep the essence intact of each character as they grew with the times.
“We connected so much with these characters especially in that first film that the opportunity to bring them all together and kind of where they are at a high school reunion,” said Hurwitz. “We all fell in love with them when we were in high school that the reunion concept was perfect for us to take this large ensemble a storyline individually that was really fun.”
Hurwitz and Schlossberg met with all the cast members before filming to ensure everyone was on board and understood what they were trying to create, which in essence, was an ode to the original “American Pie,” including a new scene that would hearken back to the iconic pie scene.
Jim (Biggs) and Michelle (Hannigan) are now parents, which is taking a toll on their sexual relationship. The filmmakers were able to take that situation and weave it through the film with comical situations, including creating a scene reminiscent of the famous pie scene.
“I gave them sort of a carte blanche or a blank canvas to literally do anything as long as it made sense in the context of the film and the character and funny,” explains Biggs.
Hannigan adds with a laugh, “As far as the technicality of shooting the scene—I’m in. It was quite technically difficult because I had to become his eyes because he couldn’t lean down and see if he was squishing it enough. There were so many positions and we had to decide which one was the funniest.”
Aside from the Jim and Michelle, the other characters have relationship issues they have to deal with that resonated from the original film including the two so-called MILF guys (Cho and Justin Isfeld).
Mena Suvari and Chris Klein couldn’t help but be playful during a press conference, rearranging microphones and joking cordially with each other.
Suvari at one point exclaims, “It looks like bingo. Hey Chris, how are you?” to which Klein responds in a exaggerated low voice, “I’m good Mena. Air traffic control, this is Qantas Flight 93 coming in for a landing in Los Angeles. You’re clear.”
Suvari’s laughter only encourages Klein further.
“Welcome passengers to American Reunion flight 101,” he says.
Suvari and Klein then try and get serious as they ponder a question about returning for the fourth installment of the franchise.
Did they hope there would be more to their characters than being the most grounded of the bunch?
“When I read the first draft, I thought it was hilarious and it has turned out to be my favorite of the whole series,” Suvari says. “It didn’t just go into the reunion that Heather and Oz were going to be together. I liked that twist.”
Suvari says she was excited the writers also further developed her character, having her come out of her shell and revealing a different side to her.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Klein says, jumping in. “I think it’s beautiful that they rekindle their first love and that innocence does still exist. I was excited to play that.”
Reprising their roles as Stifler and Finch, respectively, Scott and Thomas agree it was easy. Scott, though, had a moment of hesitation on the first day of the shoot.
“I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I was tripping over myself,” he recalls. “After a day, we were back having fun.”
Scott, who also stars in the ice hockey comedy “Goon,” realized that Stifler didn’t have to be as high energy as his character was in the first installment of the film. He could still be funny without hijinks after hijinks, he says.
Kaye says he was lucky Seann was the one who had to burn all the calories while his character, Finch, was quiet and subdued.
“They call it cool and sophisticated, but I think it’s just being lazy,” he says.
The cast was also welcoming to newcomer to the franchise, Dania Ramirez who plays Selena, the ugly duckling school band member who has transformed into a beautiful woman since high school.
Ramirez says she was at ease as the original cast members embraced her. It also was a welcoming experience to be a part of the franchise.
“I was a fan of the first one,” she says, adding that she hadn’t yet become an actress when the film was released in 1999. “I remember going to the movies and getting to know these people, and now to be a real fan coming into the movie, it’s really exciting.”
Old and new fans alike are sure to be as excited as Ramirez when the film opens in theaters on April 6.