Time and time again, Steven Soderbergh should be commended for being perhaps the only mainstream American director who refuses to stop experimenting with the medium. Not all of his experiments are successful but it's his willingness to keep trying that makes him such a valuable filmmaker, for example see Haywire, by hiring MMA star Gina Carano to play the lead in a movie about a female spy, instantly recalls his The Girlfriend Experience in which he hired a porn star to play an escort. To say that none of the ladies were outstanding actresses would be to say too little, but what Soderbergh achieves is to concoct a movie that feels like a documentary combined with exaggerated fiction. Sure, Carano doesn't hold a candle to the effortless way in which Michael Fassbender or Ewan McGregor move onscreen (Channing Tatum gets no such defense) but watching her fight stock actors has the urgency that matches any of their greatest performances. Other Soderbergh flourishes like stopping the score when there's a fight make for a unique experience that sadly doesn't become more than an exciting experiment.
American Reunion is nothing more than a sad reminder that the more things change the more they stay the same. The entire gang is back (including Mena Suvari!) for their high school reunion and they have silly realizations like how "first loves are forever", "home is where the heart is" etc.
The thing that remains constant is that the film seems to gloat in the fact that these men-children refuse to grow up and celebrates them for it. The notorious Stifler (Seann William Scott) becoming nothing more than a clown who holds any inkling of a grown up life to be completely contemptible. Sure, adult life may not be all fun and games, but there is a larger problem at bay when a movie character is loved because he chooses to exist in complete denial. The movie therefore is never funny or touching - in the way the original was - instead it becomes somewhat of a horror film that like Carrie reminds us that high school can seriously mess up some people.
The Vow **
American Reunion *