Yesterday, I went to see American Reunion, the fourth (and presumably final) installment in the American Pie franchise, not counting the stream of straight-to-DVD money-grabs you can find on Comedy Central at eight in the morning on Sundays.
I don’t want to talk so much about the movie itself—which I thought was quite good, provided you enjoyed the raunchy predecessors—as what this series represents for me and others (especially guys) my age.
Perhaps an odd thing to say considering the title is derived from fornicating with a pastry, but let me give it a shot.
The original American Pie, documenting the exploits of a group of friends leading up to their senior prom in 1999, came out after my freshman year of college. For a long time, I had liked watching funny things and trying to be funny myself, and my obsession with Seinfeld already had firm roots.
But this movie went further to get a laugh, and almost always in an explicit direction, than anything I had ever seen. Looking back at it, I think it opened my eyes to a whole new kind of funny, making jokes in a way that my consummate rule-follower personality would have previously considered taboo.
And where would we all be today without my profane musings about The Newlywed Game?
Beyond my own aspirations to write humor, I think the American Pie franchise, particularly now that this last movie has been made, has done a remarkable job chronicling my generation’s growing up, albeit in an incredibly exaggerated way. But that’s Hollywood, right?
We started with these kids when, like us, they were graduating from high school and going off to college and trying to figure out who, exactly, they were going to be. We then saw the wedding of the first of the friends to get married after college, a surreal event for all of us in our own lives. Now, almost a decade later, we see them in their early 30s, the raunchiness dialed back a touch (but still there) and high school seeming like it happened to someone else.
As much as it pains me to admit, yes, I am that guy who got nostalgic during American Reunion. It wasn’t because I want to go back to that time—my life is far, far better now, and I suspect all my friends would say the same—but because it reminded me of how things that are so important to you at one point in your life can gradually become the background and eventually all but disappear.
And yet, it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, does it?
What do you think? Are there any movies or books that do this for you? Or am I just unnaturally sentimental about Steve Stifler?
Actually, either way, that last piece is probably true.