Kam On Film: ‘American Reunion,’ ‘Surviving Progress,’ and What’s New In Theaters

American Reunion

Universal Pictures

Rated R for full frontal nudity, profanity, drug use, teen drinking, pervasive crude humor and graphic sexuality.

Fading Franchise Revived For Sophomoric Hijinks At High School Reunion

To some, it probably seems like only yesterday that the high school seniors at the center of American Pie were on a mission to lose their virginity before their graduation. But that was actually two sequels (American Pie 2 and American Wedding) and four spinoffs ago, so the testosterone-blinded buddies have long-since graduated and gone their separate ways, each leaving the state of Michigan, ostensibly to make their mark on the world.

Thus, at the point of departure of American Reunion, we find terminally-awkward Jim (Jason Biggs) wed to former band geek Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and raising a mischievous toddler (George Christopher Bianchi) who gets into everything. Meanwhile, macho jock Oz (Chris Klein) is now a high-profile TV sportscaster in L.A.; brainy Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is married and working as an architect; and mysterious Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is a bohemian fantasizing about doing something more daring than managing a Staples store in Jersey.

Quickly approaching middle-age, the buddies decide to put their lives on hold to return to their hometown of East Great Falls to attend their 13th annual high school reunion. There, they encounter iconic classmates Stifler (Seann William Scott) and The Shermanator (Chris Owen); Kevin’s ex-girlfriend, Vicky (Tara Reid), and Oz’s-ex Heather (Mena Suvari); as well as a couple of unforgettable parents in Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge) and Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy).

Over the course of the ensuing, eventful weekend, these nostalgic alumni reminisce while again becoming embroiled in sordid affairs and sophomoric hijinks suggestive of immature men desperate to recapture their youth. For instance, Kevin gets so drunk that when he wakes up naked next to Vicky, he can’t remember whether he’s just cheated on his wife (Charlene Amoia).

Elsewhere, Jim is tempted by the topless, 18 year-old next-door neighbor (Ali Cobrin) he used to babysit for as a child. And Stifler’s still Stifler. He’s not above infantile pranks like pooping into a beer cooler and totally trashing jet skis.

And so forth. You know the drill. As for the elders, Jim’s recently-widowed father shares a joint with Stifler’s mom before succumbing to the well-preserved temptress’ womanly charms.

Frankly, this reassembled ensemble looks a little long-in-the-tooth to be partaking in depravity ranging from indiscriminate coupling to over-imbibing in alcohol and ecstasy. A telltale sign that the cast might have run its course is the lack of enthusiasm (other than Eugene Levy and Seann William Scott) with which it delivers its lines.

An underwhelming last gasp of an expiring franchise strictly for diehards inclined to laugh a final time at a plethora of recycled slapstick, potty humor and graphic sight gags.

Good (2 stars)

Running time: 113 minutes



Surviving Progress

First Run Features


Eco-Documentary Examines Toll Exacted By Unchecked Consumption Of Natural Resources

Whether or not recent atmospheric trends are due to global warming, it’s pretty clear that humanity is playing a large part in climate change. But rather than engaging in silly debates about whether we’re headed for immolation or another Ice Age, it might be better to examine exactly how we are affecting the planet and what can be done to avert ecological ruin.

That is the thesis of Surviving Progress, a cautionary documentary co-directed by Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks. With the help of Earth advocates like physicist Stephen Hawking, conservationist Jane Goodall and environmental activist Margaret Atwood, the picture issues an urgent appeal for effective intervention before it’s too late.

The filmmakers believe that a good place to start might be with a redefinition of what we mean by progress, since our slavish addiction to technological advances involves unchecked mass consumption. They refer to the way in which we deceive ourselves into believing that we can rape the rainforests and the other natural resources, ad infinitum, as the “Progress Trap.”

Primatologist Goodall observes that, “We are the most intellectual creature that’s ever walked the planet,” before wondering why such an intelligent being would willfully destroy its only home. Ms. Atwood adds that instead of thinking of the Earth as a huge bank, we can just keep making endless carbon withdrawals by credit card. “We have to think of the finite nature of the planet and how to keep it alive so that we too may remain alive.”

Some weighing-in fervently believe the answer inexorably rests with individuals. “We have to use less,” says energy expert Vaclav Smil. Similarly, Colin Bevan, director of the No Impact Project, insists that we should each be cognizant of our individual carbon footprints. “Before I go around trying to change others, maybe I should look at myself and change myself,” he concedes.

Still, given how mega-corporations have come to rationalize deforestation and the unchecked mining of minerals, it is no surprise that geneticist David Suzuki might describe economics “as a form of brain damage.” Somehow, Mr. Hawking remains optimistic about the prospects for humanity, in spite of the fact that, “We are entering an increasingly dangerous period of our history.”

In the end, behavioral scientist Daniel Povinelli perhaps sums up the situation best, by suggesting that if humans go extinct, the epitaph on our gravestone should simply read “Why?” A thought-provoking clarion call to stop using our brains in ways which are detrimental to our very survival.

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 86 minutes



Kam’s Kapsules:

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun


For movies opening April 13, 2012


The Cabin In The Woods (R for profanity, drug use, sexuality, nudity and graphic violence). Genre-bending horror flick about five friends (Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz and Jesse Williams) who find more than they bargained for during a gruesome getaway at a remote retreat so deep in the forest it’s off the grid. With Richard Jenkins, Amy Acker and Bradley Whitford.

Lockout (PG-13 for profanity, sexual references and intense violence). Futuristic sci-fi thriller about a wrongly-convicted federal agent (Guy Pearce) who is offered a pardon in return for rescuing the President’s daughter (Maggie Grace) from an outer space prison where she’s been taken hostage by bloodthirsty inmates. Featuring Peter Stormare, Vincent Regan and Lennie James.

The Three Stooges (PG for slapstick violence, crude humor and double entendres). Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso co-star as Moe, Larry and Curly, respectively, in this madcap adventure which has the hapless trio landing their own reality show after uncovering a murder plot while trying to rescue their cash-strapped, childhood orphanage. Ensemble cast includes Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, Sofia Vergara, Larry David, Isaiah Mustafi and Jersey Shore’s Snooki and The Situation.

Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, violence, drug and alcohol use, and mature themes). Faith-based drama about a happily-married couple (Blair Underwood and Sharon Leal) whose relationship is suddenly tested by dark secrets uncovered during the desperate search for their kidnapped four-year-old daughter (Zoe Carter). With Pam Greer, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Nicole Beharie.

Bad Ass (R for violence, torture, sexuality, nudity and pervasive profanity). Vigilante drama about a Vietnam vet (Danny Trejo) who decides to take the law into his own hands after the cops show no interest in solving the murder of his best friend (Harrison Page). With Charles S. Dutton, Ron Perlman, Joyful Drake and Winter Ave Zoli.

Deadline (PG-13 for mature themes). Crime drama, set in rural Alabama, recounting the real-life story of an idealistic newspaper reporter (Steve Talley) who, in spite of death threats, investigated the unsolved murder, 20 years earlier, of an African-American child. Cast includes Eric Roberts, Anna Felix and Jeremy Childs.

Detention (R for nudity, profanity, drug use, underage drinking, sexuality, violence and crude humor). Horror comedy about a sadistic serial killer (Carrie Wiita) who starts stalking high school students stuck in detention on the day of the senior prom. Cast includes Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook and Shanley Caswell.

Here (Unrated). Romance drama, narrated by Peter Coyote, about an American cartographer (Ben Foster) who falls in love with a photographer (Lubna Azabal) from a peasant family while on assignment in Armenia. With Aren Vatyan, Garik Chepchyan and Nerik Nersisyan. (In English and Armenian with subtitles).

The Lady (R for violence and bloody images). Michelle Yeoh stars in the title role of this biopic about Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the political prisoner recently-freed by the Burmese government after being kept under house arrest for 15 years. With David Thewlis as her husband, Michael Aris, and featuring Jonathan Woodhouse, Susan Wooldridge and Benedict Wong. (In English and Burmese with subtitles).

Last Will And Embezzlement (Unrated). Tarnished Golden Years documentary, narrated by Artie Pasquale chronicling the epidemic of financial exploitation of the elderly by avaricious charlatans. Featuring commentary by Mickey Rooney, Pamela Glasner and Sandy Jolley.

Late Bloomers (Unrated). Relationship drama about a retired teacher (Isabella Rossellini) who pressures her architect husband (William Hurt) to make concessions to age as they both turn 60. With Doreen Mantle, Kate Ashfield and Aidan McArdle.

Life Happens (R for sexuality). Baby-mama comedy about a wild party girl (Krysten Ritter) finally forced to mature when she ends up pregnant after a one-night stand. With Kate Bosworth, Jason Biggs and Rhys Coiro.

Monsieur Lazhar (PG-13 for mature themes, brief profanity and a disturbing image). Mohamed Fellag handles the titular role of this bittersweet dramedy, set in Montreal, about an illegal immigrant, grieving the murder of his wife and children, hired to replace a recently-deceased, elementary school teacher who committed suicide. With Sophie Nelisse, Emilien Neron and Danielle Proulx.

Post Mortem (Unrated). Romance drama, set against the backdrop of the overthrow of President Allende in Chile in 1973, revolving around a 55-year-old morgue attendant (Alfredo Castro) who embarks on a frantic search for a missing burlesque dancer (Antonia Zegers) he has a crush on, following a raid on her family’s home by government soldiers. With Amparo Noguera, Jaime Vadell and Marcelo Alonso. (In Spanish with subtitles).

Touchback (PG-13 for mature themes). Redemption drama about a second shot at glory given a former high school football star (Brian Presley) 15 years after the knee injury that ended his promising career. With Kurt Russell, Christine Lahti and Melanie Lynskey.

Unraveled (Unrated). White-collar crime documentary about Marc Dreier, a Manhattan attorney sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of securities fraud for operating a Ponzi scheme which fleeced his victims of over $700 million.