Movie stars get nervous, too. When Jason Biggs - who plays Jim, the pastry-loving lead of the American Pie ensemble comedies - stepped onto the set for the fourth installment in the series, he admits he felt a little jittery.
"A lot of us had nervous butterflies because it had been a long time since we had seen each other," Biggs says. "Eddie Kay Thomas (who plays Finch in the films) and I are good friends. He's one of my best buds, and we see each other all the time, so he doesn't count. But there were other people in the cast I hadn't seen for the better part of 10 years. It was kind of surreal seeing each other. But it took all of 10 minutes before we were back to our old ways. We have a shorthand and a comfort level with each other that we can go that long without seeing each other and it doesn't matter."
That level of comfort was important, because American Reunion, in which the cast from 1999's American Pie reunites for a high school class reunion, relies on the ensemble comedy of the previous three films - the shockingly raunchy, but always sweet and good-hearted humor - that helped the first three films earn more than $750 million worldwide.
But aside from the usual greed/ profit charts that fuel most comedy sequels, directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay) saw something more in another American Pie movie than an automatic paycheck.
"One of the things that attracted us to this project was the ensemble aspect of it," Hurwitz says. "You see it a lot on television, in shows such as 'The Office' and 'Parks & Recreation,' but not so much in movies. Hayden and I became friends in high school and started writing screenplays in college when the original American Pie came out. So when this project came up, the first thing we said to the studio was, 'We want to bring everybody back. We want to revive the rhythm of the first movie and make sure everyone has something to do and everyone gets their moment to shine.'"
Fortunately, despite the success of the initial American Pie trilogy, none of the original cast members had broken through to a superstardom that would make their participation a financial impossibility. Everyone from the first three movies makes an appearance in American Reunion save for Casey Affleck, who played the older brother of Thomas Ian Nicholas' character Kevin in uncredited cameos in the first two Pies.
For the actors, American Reunion afforded an opportunity movies rarely do: the chance to reconnect with performers they worked with a decade ago while playing the same exact characters.
"That's a big part of the fun of watching the movie," Thomas says. "This movie gives us permission to be juvenile in a way the real world doesn't let us be. On the set, it's totally OK to say, 'Oh my God, I totally wanted to (have sex) with my friend's mom!' And as actors, how great is it to go back and act like stupid 12-year-olds again? When we made the first American Pie, I remember the producers talking about how the movie wasn't just for teenagers; it was for older people who didn't get their own Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Those high school movies skipped a generation.
"I would say American Reunion is suitable for anyone between the ages of 12 and 80. Probably not 9-year-olds. Maybe. If they bring their parents."
(c)2012 The Miami Herald
Distributed by MCT Information Services