LOS ANGELES (AFP) ― Thirteen years after “American Pie,” the adolescents from the worldwide hit movie are back for a fourth helping, still tempted by the juicy bits despite having grown up, somewhat, in the meantime.
Released in 1999, the original was the latest to tap into U.S. movie-goers’ huge appetite for adult-rated comedies, harking back to 1978’s “Animal House” and more recently demonstrated, arguably, by the “Hangover” films.
Famous for a scene in which Jason Biggs pleasured himself with an apple pie, the movie and its two sequels went on to make more than $700 million at the box office around the world.
Universal, makers of the franchise, then made a series of direct-to-video follow-ups, but have decided to come back to regular theater distribution with “American Reunion,” released Friday in the United States.
And while the actors remain mostly the same, the studio chose new filmmakers in co-directors Jon Hurvitz and Hayden Schlossberg, whose previous credits include the “Harold and Kumar” comedies.
The pair insist that taking over an already-huge franchise wasn’t a problem.
“We were just enormous fans of the first American Pie. We were in college when it came out, we watched it over and over and over again, we knew the characters, we knew the franchise very very well,” said Hurvitz.
The original movie’s characters were adolescents, and the decision to bring them back together for a high school reunion seemed the obvious storyline.
“The reunion concept was just so perfect for us to take everybody in this large ensemble and give each person a storyline and moments to shine,” said Hurvitz, presenting the movie recently in Beverly Hills, before its release.
Each of the characters has grown up, personally professionally, but the reunion throws them up against their adolescent emotions, and lots of the laughs come from that confrontation.
“For the actors too it was a nostalgic film,” said Dania Ramirez, who plays Selena. Since the last movie in 2003 “they’ve followed their own paths, careers, they’ve become adults, some of them have married and had children.”
“They got back together for the film after several years of not seeing each other, for some of them.”
The Dominican Republic-born actress is the only new character in the movie, bringing a Hispanic touch to the franchise which wasn’t there before.
“That says something about what Latinos represent in this country. It’s become very important for Hollywood to include more Hispanic characters in films,” since Latinos are the most avid movie-goers in America, she said.
This type of movie, which was perhaps relatively rare when the original “American Pie” was served up, is increasingly common ― “Bridesmaids,” and the “Hangover” films are recent examples.
The makers of “American Reunion” say they hope their movie doesn’t go too far into the excesses of the genre, even if it has its fair share of dirty jokes, full-frontal nudity and scatological references.
“It’s a fun challenge to figure out what the new shit joke is going to be.”
Or how you’re going to have nudity in a way that’s going to make people uncomfortable,“ said Schlossberg.
“Every single comedy director faces that question of ‘Are you going to push it?’ But I think that bad movies are trying to push it. You feel that they just try to find something outrageous,” “But for us, the most important is to have great characters,” he said.