a select number of films that I have trouble granting lukewarm reviews.
American Reunion falls into this grouping. Its brilliance is clear, with
each corner of it abundant in expertise. However, the persistently annoying,
and always distracting, flaws it is disrupted by hold this micro-budget
motion picture back from being a great film. When one of American Reunion’s
faults detracts from an otherwise glowing scene, it is a painful experience
to endure. Perhaps this type of flaw is harder to watch nag than that of a
project which was dead-on-arrival in the first place. American Reunion
exhibits much distinguished promise, but only half of it is acted upon.
The story chronicles the events leading up to a
twentieth high school reunion, in which a group of friends are reunited. The
paths they have taken throughout their lives are broadly different from one
another, but their personalities seem to still be the same with all
considered, despite some noticeable changes. The idea seems to be a basic
retread of The Big Chill, when each individual part of it is
examined. But it is not the subject matter that bears any effect on
American Reunion’s story, good or bad. Instead, it is the personalities
which embody the story that make it so wonderful. Each character in the
movie is significant in their own way, adding their own little touch to the
Some roles, though, turn out to be better than
others. The performances in the picture range from being great to terrible.
The cast varies in experience, though no actor in it has garnered a
groundbreaking amount of success. I particularly like Dwier Brown as
Patrick, a man who has been asked to leave the army because of his
homosexuality, much to his father’s dismay. Corey Glover is also excellent
as Ty, a musician who left his son in favor of making a career for himself
in the music industry years back. He will be meeting the boy, who is now a
teenager, for the first time ever.
On the other side of the spectrum, Jennifer Rubin
turns in a terrible performance as Jeanie, the high school nerd turned
hottie. There are so many ways she could’ve brought a desperately needed wit
to the character, playing with clichés and confounding a true, insightful
presence. Instead, her work seems like some kind of sympathy ballot, begging
us to like the brain-dead feelings she wants us to experience when watching
and listening to Jeanie. In every scene that she’s in, the moments feel
forced, totally bringing viewers out of the movie, and making them
feel as if they’re watching a middle-school live drama production unfold.
Andres Faucher isn’t very good, either. As J.C., the cocaine-snorting
younger brother of one of the reuniting group’s deceased friend, Brian, he
blankly paints us a by-the-numbers portrait of his character’s personality.
When compared to Rubin, though, his efforts actually seem alright.
The screenplay, written by Kimberly Shane O’Hara,
contains some fabulous dialogue. The writing offers some surprisingly real
takes on how people react to change; it beautifully explores such a concept
in vivid detail. Even though I compare some aspects of the film’s execution
to a junior high school potboiler, the written lines flow in such a way that
they would work extremely well in a live production. If adapted
correctly, American Reunion could make a great play.
Despite the low-budget, independent status of the
flick, some of the cinematography is gorgeous. I was enthralled at how well
some of the shots blended with the ingenious soundtrack, bringing a melodic,
artful nature about the picture. There are some fabulous, eye-pleasing views
of various things, in motion, always providing something interesting to
watch when the material fails to hook us. The selective use in color is also
quite beautiful; it often enriches and enlightens the senses.
I suppose I have to take American Reunion
for what it is—an amusing, but rarely powerful diversion. It is scheduled
for release in a few select cities this June, and is now, to my
understanding, currently playing in Minneapolis. If it does come to your
town, I would certainly recommend seeing it over a conventional, blunt
Hollywood creation. However, the final product does not represent anything
you should go out of your way to see. This is, in itself, disappointing,
even though the film, overall, is somewhat worthwhile.
-Danny, Bucket Reviews (5.19.2004)
Back to Home
The Bucket Review's