29 November 2012

Film Review | American Reunion (aka American Pie: Reunion) (Unrated Edition) directed by Jon Hurwitz

American Pie’s scintillating synthesis of scatological humour and brazen nudity made it an instant hit with my late-teen self back in the summer of ’99, its comic teenage lust offering me an hour and a half’s reprieve from my own libido-fuelled woes. Two years later, its slightly-more-syrupy sequel’s parting of ways mirrored my own leaving for university (though admittedly my departing misadventures were marked by fewer scantily-clad lesbians and… uh… creative musicians, more’s the pity). Fast-forward to the fag end of my uni days, and Jim and Michelle’s American Wedding (or American Pie: The Wedding to us slow-on-the-uptake Brits) was followed in short order by my own engagement, drawing a heavy line under both Jim and company’s licentious capers, and my own. Or so I’d thought.

As I enter my second year of parenthood, American Reunion arrives on home video to look for hilarity and absurdity in every aspect of life’s latest chapter, while at the same time gently emphasising what and whom life is all about. The thumping of Jim and Michelle’s bed as the movie opens sets the stall for the cruel commentary that’s to come, as the camera pans up to reveal the apparently ageless Jason Biggs’ Jim “working” on his laptop, while his once-inventive musical missus (How I Met Your Mother and erstwhile Buffy star Alyson Hannigan) rigorously bounces their baby boy to sleep. With similar succinctness the film swiftly summarises the sexless plight of the pubescent pactees that we met over a decade ago, each (to coin a favourite phrase of my mother’s) having become more like themselves as they’ve grown older. Chris Klein’s Ostreicher has sold his soul for celebrity - former sweetheart Heather (Mena Suvari of American Beauty fame) no longer hangs from his arm; instead, he’s involved with a vacuous model who’s more besotted with his money and status than she is him. Seann William Scott’s Stifler has, quite predictably, failed to mature even by the slightest degree, but now his alpha male delusions of dominance are frequently shattered by his pocket-sized boss, who is keen to remind him that he’s the “bitch”. Just as true to form, Eddie Kaye Thomas’s Paul Finch has carefully constructed the veneer of a motorbike-riding, African tribe-leading, enigmatic world-wanderer, but beneath his studied façade hides a fraud who wouldn’t be out of place working at Dunder Mifflin’s Office on NBC. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), meanwhile, has got married and grown an ill-advised beard, but remains as overemotional and hastily condemnatory as the exasperating youth whose sexual fears gave rise to first movie’s “let’s all get laid together” maguffin. As I caught up with these lives, I found myself reflecting on my own and those of my ever-dwindling clique, and how uncannily they’ve mirrored those of our larger-than-life American peers - the blandness; the failures; the ridiculous facial hair; even the occasional, whiff-of-a-pint yearning for times past.

Indeed, many aspects of American Reunion put me in mind of the countless jolly boys’ outings that I’ve enjoyed in recent years with my Hull University alumni. Whilst duly riotous, each “lads’ weekend” is tainted by a crippling sense of morbid nostalgia, perhaps even loss, that this movie captures beautifully. Its Carry On-style comedy is expectedly low-brow and slapstick, but it’s frequently underlined by excruciating melancholy. The uproarious drunken revelry of Eugene Levy’s Noah Levenstein (now a veteran of eight American Pies, if we include the rubbish straight-to-DVD spin-off ones) is ultimately borne of a widower’s lonesomeness; Finch’s crimes were precipitated by the mortification that he feels at not having lived up to his intellectual potential. Even the luscious merriment of the film’s fitting “Finch’s mom” dénouement is counterpointed by the surprisingly-stirring reconciliation of the long-since estranged ‘“MILF” guys’ - never before has a chant of “MILF” carried such a profound sense of amity.

As I watched this franchise’s first movie play out before me on the silver screen, I never dreamed that its characters would be joining me on a lifelong journey involving love, loss and shitting in beer crates, but that’s exactly what’s transpired. If you’re in the mood for some high-end trash that boasts a few proudly-gratuitous pairs of tits (the exquisite Ali Cobrin’s amongst them, above); a knob shrouded in see-through kitchenware; some cheap laughs; and some saccharine sentiments, then do yourself a favour and get yourself to the Reunion. Having endured it and enjoyed it, I’m looking forward to catching up with this lot again in a couple of decades’ time for American Menopause (or American Pie: The Menopause for us obdurate Pie-munchers in the UK).

01 November 2012

Supersize vs Superskinny Santa

Friday 9th November 2012 will see the publication of Supersize vs Superskinny Santa, the first of my modern morality tales for children with a humorous twist. Illustrated by Jemma Brown, the e-book will be available through Amazon’s Kindle store for just £1.99 in the UK as well as overseas. You can visit its UK page by clicking here.

However, on Saturday 3rd November 2012, eager readers will be able to download a special preview copy free of charge by following this link.

The picture book can be read in full colour on a Kindle Fire, iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 7 or any PC, Mac or laptop with the appropriate software installed (visit the Kindle Store to download the appropriate free app for your device). Those with older black and white Kindles are still able to enjoy the book, albeit in monochrome.

I would be very grateful if you could let people that you think might be interested in it know about the book and, if you can, post links to it. If you’ve enjoyed it yourself, please also consider writing a review or clicking the ‘like’ button. Reviews especially would be appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Rudolph’s not had an easy life. Mercilessly mocked by his surprisingly mean-spirited peers for having a cosmetic nasal defect, he went on to carve out a place for himself in history by using his iridescent nose to guide Santa Claus through weather conditions that other reindeers couldn’t. But that wouldn’t be the end of his troubles.

As the years have worn on, Santa has become a slave to food and drink. He’s obese, indolent and selfish, and now his alcoholic corpulence threatens Christmas itself.

Can Rudolph help Santa to drop enough weight to fit down chimneys before it’s too late? Or will children the world over wake up on Christmas Day to find that Santa hasn’t been?