"American Reunion" comedy grows up

As the next installment in the “American Pie” franchise, “American Reunion” (to be released April 6, directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg) has a lot of comedy gold to live up to.

Not only does the new film continue the series’ trademark brand of sexual innuendo, hilarious situations, and genuine comedic gags, it also displays a welcome consciousness for the reality of its protagonists.

James Levenstein (played by Jason Biggs) is now married to Michelle Levenstein (played by Alyson Hannigan); Kevin Myers (played by Thomas Ian Nicholas) is also married and works as an architect, Chris Ostreicher (played by Chris Klein) works as a sportscaster on an NFL show, and Paul Finch (played by Eddie Kaye Thomas) is also now an adult. All these guys were best buds during high school.

The only one out of them that’s stuck in his high school past is Steve Stiffler (played by Seann William Scott), so when the opportunity to attend their high school reunion – class of ’99 – comes up, Stiffler and the guys decide to live it up like they used to in high school.

This sets up the context for the traditional hilarity that ensues in any American Pie film, only this time, the driving force behind the comedy is actually a serious concern among the guys about realizing they’ve grown up and that high school is well past.

James and Michelle, for example, are worried because the sex life of their marriage is faltering. James’ dad, Noah (played by the lovable Eugene Levy) has experienced the death of his wife and is convinced by James to come out with him and Michelle to Stiffler’s party to live it up a little and maybe find someone else. The fact that this linkage between something as genuinely sad as the loss of a wife and something as incontrovertibly exciting as a “high school” party is made goes to show that the movie isn’t just about guys trying to get laid, but instead about adults who genuinely enjoyed and now miss their former lives or partners, the latter of which is also true with Ostreicher and Myers.

“American Reunion” hits the very sweet balance between being a treatise on a real life issue and being a choice comedy film of the month. If you want to LOL and feel genuine emotion at the same time, “American Reunion” is the movie to watch.

Seuss comes alive in ‘Lorax’

“The Lorax,” the Dr. Seuss fable about the preservation of the natural environment and the contrast between what’s right and what you believe in, comes alive in Illumination Entertainment’s 2012 film of the same name.

It has been given a 3D and IMAX face lift in its newest incarnation, but the wonderful story is mostly unchanged.

Big-name stars voice this animated flick: Taylor Swift, Zac Effron and Danny DeVito.

DeVito voices the iconic Lorax, who speaks for the trees. Effron plays Ted, the optimistic youth who discovers the story of the Truffula Trees through the tale of the Once-Ler (the anti-hero in the film, played by Ed Helms). Swift plays Ted’s love interest, Audrey, whose desire to get a real tree motivates Ted to skip town and find out more about them.

Ted and his mother and grandmother live in Thneedville, a town where everything is made out of plastic, computerized, and O’Hare Air is the sole supplier of air for the entire town.

The city came as a result of the Once-Ler’s evildoings: He manufactured an odd garment he called Thneed, a multi-purpose product that he felt everyone needed.

To supply the demand, he happens upon the forest of Truffula Trees, where he meets the forest creatures and then the Lorax. Despite promising to refrain from cutting down the tress, the Once-ler singlehandedly destroys the forest to satisfy his business desires – and the rest is history.

Similar to Disney/Pixar’s “Wall-E,” “The Lorax” delivers a lot of high-minded criticisms about modern society through its colorful and affectionate cartoon story.

Thneedville and O’Hare Air are clear symbolisms for the industrial nature of our society, the emphasis it places on high technology and immediate results.

Other elements emphasize our consumer-oriented nature and companies who don’t care about preserving the environment.

But “The Lorax” is still a children’s film at heart. The animation is top-notch, and the creatures of the forest are endearing, imaginative animals that, combined with the touching nature of the film’s plot, earn a place in your heart. 

Florida Renaissance Festival takes eventgoers back in time

What better way to spend a brisk weekend than traveling back in time to an era where knights jousted to the death, archery was in full swing, and everyone walking the streets dressed in rustic garb, whether they were a pirate, a queen, a soldier, or even a cleaning lady.

Such is the spirit of the Renaissance Festival at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach.

Walking the streets of this mystic town, with jesters and King Ferdinand and the Queen walking the streets along with the commoners, with most everyone addressing one another in old-time speak, makes for an ethereal journey into an era lost to history.

The personalities parading the town are unlike any other. Here, the King’s soldiers engage in a jousting tournament of life and death, you can witness a glass blower forming wonderful creations with unmatched skill, you can laugh at the jester’s colorful garb and humorous stories, you can stand in awe as the champions of the sword fighting tournament go for their final round in the ring, and you can appreciate actors delivering a marvelous, satirical take on the classic Macbeth.

The effort the creators of the Renaissance Festival and its participants have put into recreating the feel of a 1500s Medieval town is incredible. Best of all, the public can freely participate in this same creative drive by dressing up in an old-time costume of their choice, from pirate outfits to corsets for the ladies and more.

While each show and performance is meticulously scripted and coordinated in order to reflect its historical counterpart, it is the walk through the town, witnessing the spectacular characters that parade its streets, that is most fulfilling.

There is even a psychotic woman who swears she is leading her pet dragon around by carrying nothing but a large bone on a rope.

The festival goes on through March 11, every weekend day from 10 a.m. to sunset, including President’s Day.

See http://www.ren-fest.com for more information.