The Stiffmeister, in all his glory, taking a vengeful dump in an ice cooler: For a few seconds, it’s the epitome of every funny thing ever put on screen, classic Stifler, smacking kids in the face with his shit just because he can. Then, as the comically drawn-out farting noises turn into long, sloshy groans of relief, the full realization of what’s happening in front of our eyes finally hits — a grown man is defecating in an ice cooler.

American Reunion

At Quality 16 and Rave
Universal


And there’s nothing you can do to unsee it. And that, in a sentence, summarizes the biggest takeaway from “American Reunion,” which boils down to just another feeble attempt at revitalizing a dead franchise — a franchise that imploded after its leads left high school and got punched into submission by the real world. Now, 13 years after graduating from East Great Falls, the gang limps back home for a high-school reunion with wild expectations of reliving the joy of the good old days.

Jason Biggs (“American Wedding”) is once again the clumsy and sexually awkward Jim Levenstein, a.k.a. Pie Rapist. Bogged down by the weight of everyday life and fatherhood, Jim has forgotten what it’s like to enjoy sex with his wife and hopes to use the mini-vacation to rekindle their love life. Naturally, questionable decision-making, drinking and partying somehow manage to get in the way. The rest of the posse, including Oz (Chris Klein, “Caught in the Crossfire”), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas, “The Hitman”) and Finch (Eddie Kay Thomas, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas”) follow close behind.

Perhaps the saddest part of this movie is Stifler (Seann William Scott, “Goon”). No longer able to torment nerds and skate by on his good looks alone, the Stiffmeister’s situation is pitiful. He’s a temp at a large brokerage firm and faces constant harassment from the type of guys he spent his entire high-school career beating into submission. Stifler views the reunion weekend as a much-needed escape from life, and unsurprisingly, he’s the one facilitating much of the alcohol-induced mayhem.

All of the partying is lazily strung together with desperate ploys by the directors (Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas”) to sell token feelings of nostalgia, and it’s just too goddamn phony to count for anything. And to a certain degree, there’s no point blaming the directors — by the time one rolls on down to the fourth film in a franchise, the material is beaten to the point where it would take nothing short of a miracle to make a line sound original.

In response, the writers and directors are left with small bits of material that do nothing more than pay homage to the previous films. It’s a cop-out, but one that makes money. And there’s no point doubting “American Reunion” will bring in ticket sales — even if those tickets are only bought by the graduating senior class of 1999, who can remember first-hand the joy of watching Jim stripping down in front of a webcam.

As for everyone else, let us pray to the heavenly being that is Stifler’s Mom that they don’t make another one.

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