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MOVIE REVIEW: American Reunion

Mike Finkelstein is heading back home for his high school reunion. Luckily, he has been brushing up on the AMERICAN PIE films for all the things NOT to do when he gets back. Here is his review of “American Reunion.”



Mike Finkelstein is heading back home for his high school reunion.  Luckily, he has been brushing up on the AMERICAN PIE films for all the things NOT to do when he gets back.  Here is his review of “American Reunion.”

PLOT: Jim (Jason Biggs), Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), and the whole gang head back to their hometown of East Great Falls, Michigan for their 13-year High School reunion.  Hilarity, penis accidents, and poop jokes ensue.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  We live in the age of recycled film ideas.  Over the past few years, it seems like Hollywood has developed a passion for packing on an extra entry to an old, juicy trilogy to make some money.  Some work (SCREAM 4), and some don’t (INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, obviously).

When AMERICAN PIE first came out, it revitalized the teen sex comedy.  It was the first of its kind since PORKY’S, and led to an entire litter of copy cats and imitators.  When you look at a movie like AMERICAN REUNION, which holds that coveted PART IV asterisk, it almost seems dated.  You’re dropping in on these old friends from back around Y2K to see how their doing and realize that nobody has grown in the slightest.  Jim is still having awkward accidents concerning sex and his penis.  Jim’s dad is still giving the same old awkward advice.  Stifler is still acting idiotic and trying to party, Finch is still making cracks about banging Stifler’s mom, and Oz and Kevin are still stuck on the girls they could never let go of.  And you feel like maybe the time has passed.  You’re older now.  They’re older now.  It’s time to move on and grow up.

But here’s the thing…Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg pile on this nostalgia factor.  And for any kid who grew up in the 90s as PIE’s target audience, that nostalgia factor is king.  There are references galore to the first three, and there’s almost a weird comfort in seeing this gang on screen again, as well as a reassurance that despite whatever problems they’re having finding themselves as “adults”, they’re still the same screwy people they’ve always been.

In turn, we get a few very amusing scenarios that will make you smile and laugh.  Jim has to deal with a neighbor whom he used to babysit turning 18, and wanting him, out of all people, to be her first (enter some physical comedy, and an ill-timed stuffed cow).  All the while, he and Michelle are trying to find their sex lives after having a baby.  (Yeah…when both scenarios meet, it leads to one of the most ridiculous group fight scenes I’ve seen on film.)  Oz, Kevin and Finch also have their issues, but besides a hell of an entrance by Finch, it’s mostly forgettable.

More than anybody else, I have to praise Seann William Scott and Eugene Levy.  While I started to grow tired of Stifler’s shtick by WEDDING, I have to give Scott credit for committing so hard to the character and bringing the ridiculousness to another level.  And Jim’s Dad may have the perfect advice for every situation, but when the time comes for him to lose control, it brings us by far the best moments of the movie.

But then there’s another problem… AMERICAN PIE has been out of public view for almost a decade, now, replaced by the Judd Apatow and Will Ferrell troupes.  How do you draw in a new audience on a movie built so strongly on its predecessors?  You really can’t.  Yes, I had fun and you’ll get a few newcomers, but any audience besides my 90s group that the film was made for is automatically alienated by its subject matter.  It’s sad to say, but this probably won’t be the younger generation’s first priority to watch.  But if they haven’t seen the original trilogy yet, maybe that’s a good thing…

Despite eight years passing, our AMERICAN PIE characters have not changed in any way.  So much more could have been done with our group in this stage of our lives, but instead, AMERICAN REUNION gave us the same old jokes and the same exact structure beat for beat.  But how you enjoy the movie will really depend on where you are in your life right now.  If you’re a fan from the 90s, you’ll look past the mediocrity and be right in your comfort zone with a group of old friends.  If you’re used to loving lamp, slappin da bass, and voices that are combinations of Fergie and Jesus, then it’s more of a tossup.  For me, I have to respect Hurwitz and Schlossberg for making a film that tried to go for the heart more than the sex jokes.  Granted, that doesn’t mean I need another three or four entries (as the script so boldly hints at near the end…), but I’ll take this one as a worthy addition to the franchise, and hopefully, a nice little epilogue that lets us close the back cover of this story with an extra smile.


Mike’s LIKES:

1) JIM’S DAD: Oh, Eugene Levy.  You are absolutely the man.  No matter how lost Jim’s dad is, the love for his son can still fill a football stadium.  And when the man who gives so much advice finally has his time to shine and get a little loving, you’ll be on the floor.  “The Fuzz!!!!”

2) MOTHERS: Stifler’s mom isn’t the only lucky lady to show up…all I can say is that it’s been a long time coming…

3) MUSIC TIME CAPSULE: Quick!  Think of every 90s rock hit you can think of in the next three seconds!  Everything that just came to your mind shows up, most specifically within the last half hour of the film.  Kind of cool, kind of sappy, kind of makes you want to dig out your old Semisonic cassette.

4) MILF! MILF! MILF!: John Cho and Justin Isfeld.  I could have sworn these two were gay.  Apparently not.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t still love the MILF chant, and how dramatic their reunion turns out to be.

5) STIFLER: Like I said, I got tired of the Stifmeister’s shtick a long time ago.  But 80% of the crazy moments you will remember from REUNION has to do with him, and without Stifler, this movie would have been nothing (makes sense now why every straight-to-DVD Presents entry has Stifler’s brother or cousin or long lost nephew once removed…)


1) SAME STRUCTURE: It’s the same story, down to the emotional “Full House”-ish talking-it-out moment.  If you’re coming back after eight years, give us something new and different.  Reinvent yourself.  Don’t just rip off the same skeleton from before.

2) OZ/KEVIN: There’s a reason why Oz wasn’t in WEDDING.  He’s really kind of boring.  To be honest, both Kevin and Oz are.  Yes, their stories are sweet, but if they were gone, I don’t think anybody would really miss them.

3) JET SKIS: A little too crazy.  I was expecting cops to show up at someone’s door the rest of the movie, but nothing.  A huge stunt that just disappeared when it could have had some ridiculously awkward/fun repercussions.


1) The excuse for a 13-year high school reunion (odd number, no?) is that the school could not get the gang’s act together for a 10-year reunion.

2) First AMERICAN PIE movie not written by Adam Herz.


Who Is This Brian Balthazar Guy, Anyway?

Did you see Brian on TV today? Wondering who he is? Here’s much more than you wanted to know. They leave the part out that he loves a well mixed Dark And Stormy, but let’s keep things professional…




You may have seen Brian Balthazar on television this morning, heard him on the radio, or read about some recent developments in the world of media and pop culture. But who the hell is this guy? Brian Balthazar leads a double – triple – okay, maybe quadruple life. Part journalist, actor and comic, he appears on many TV shows as a guest, but is also a developer and creator of several television shows behind the scenes. This when he’s not renovating homes and making snacks for his websites, and

After launching the fourth hour of the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, he turned his attention to cable television, overseeing the direction and development of several shows on HGTV, including Flip or Flop, Love It Or List It, Christina On The Coast, House Hunters, Hit Properties with Nathan Morris, Flea Market Flip and dozens more.

As a comic he served as the opening act for Russell Brand In New York City and the MTV series Man and Wife featuring hype man Fatman Scoop.  He has performed at The Comic Strip, Caroline’s On Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club and more.Wendy Williams Show Feb 2013

In addition to being a frequent guest on “The Wendy Williams Show,” (he co-hosted several times during Williams’ three week break) and appearing on the “Today” show, where he guest co-hosted with Jenna Hager-Bush,  Brian has frequently been seen co-hosting the syndicated TV gossip show Page Six TV.

Additionally, he was the sideline reporter for HGTV’s Rose Parade Coverage, hosted the HGTV Special I Bought A Famous House, and has appeared on CBS’s The Talk, HLN’s Showbiz Tonight, MSNBC’s Caught On Camera, The Joy Behar Show, and more.

Brian Balthazar Kathie Lee Hoda

An appearance on the fourth hour of the TODAY show with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

He has also been an emcee for many notable events and sponsors, including work as a brand ambassador for Bombay Company, the co-host of the Miss Tennessee and Miss Mississippi USA pageants, and a red carpet host at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

You may also have seen Brian in some viral videos, most notably a recent parody of Bird Box, and a satirical look at House Hunters’ Writers’ Room.

HGTV – House Hunters Writer’s Room from Buffalo Picture House on Vimeo.

 Brian Balthazar Bombay

Appearing in a series of videos for Bombay Company.


Brian has provided analysis, interviews and helped co-host the Tony Awards backstage show. He also followed all the backstage madness at the launch of Fashion Week in New York City while co-hosting the Red Dress Event. He has been a roving reporter for the Dr. Oz show. Earlier in his career he was a features reporter and contributor on NBC, MSNBC, United Airlines In-Flight Entertainment and more.

For A&E network, Brian appeared in an episode of Biography about Jim Carrey. He also provided play by play of some of film’s greatest car chases for a documentary about, well, car chases. (Ask his family and they will tell you: NO one would have expected to see him in a show about cars. We’ll leave it at that.)


Before ‘finding himself’ professionally, Brian was a singer on a ship, a publicist for a trance medium, an insurance customer service rep, waiter, bartender, activities director, substitute teacher, website programmer, pianist at a camp for spoiled children, and college mascot. None of them worked out. Let’s hope this does.

To contact Brian, email

To check out his video clips from NBC, HLN, and MSNBC, click HERE…

And – become his friend on facebook!

For a more extensive listing of his TV appearances visit his IMDB page.

And he’s apparently getting better about Twitter. So he says. He’s @BrianBalthazar.

Thanks for reading POP GOES THE WEEK!

For his TV Appearances, Click on the TV APPEARANCES page.

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POP in the Kitchen! The Perfect Snack and Cocktail Pairings.



POP Goes The Week’s Brian Balthazar is part of the all new Food Network Kitchen App! Cook LIVE alongside Brian as he makes get party food and the drinks that go perfectly with them!

Hey everyone! I’m so excited for this – I was thrilled to be a part of the new app, which is an all new way to cook with your favorite chefs and cooking experts. In the app, you can get the recipe and ingredients and recipe in advance, check the live class schedule, then cook at the very same time as your instructor!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to do a live snack and cocktail pairing, which you can still watch – and cook along with me! Trust me, these all start out as live, which means anything can happen! (I have an adventure with the broiler in one of them!)

Download the app here.

For my recipes, I made a pulled pork toast with queso, sour cream radishes and green onions, along with a smoky mezcal paloma.

Pulled Pork Toasts with Sour Cream, Queso, Radishes and Green onions, garnished with cilantro. The recipe is literally those ingredients stacked onto baguette slices!

In another class, I make lavender honey that gets drizzled right on top of baked brie with herbs, then use that same lavender honey for my own interpretation of a “Bees Knees” cocktail that I call a “Bees Knees Breeze.” I came up with the variation because the original recipe, simply gin, honey and lemon was just TOO strong for me and I found myself always getting plastered!

Check out the gallery of what I made, all available on the FNK app!

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I hope you can check them out, AND all your favorite instructors like Bobby Flay, Giada de Laurentiis and Ree Drummond!



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‘Saved By The Bell’ Cast Reunited For 30th Anniversary – And I’m So Excited



If you think your high school experience feels like ancient history then it won’t bring you any comfort to know that Saved By The Bell debuted 30 years ago!

Back in 1989, Saved By The Bell hit the small screen and quickly became a television staple. Over the course of its four seasons, the sitcom followed Zach Morris and his unique blend of friends as they navigated the tricky waters of high school. Everyone had a favorite Bayside Tiger and the series spawned many memorable scenes…but you are a liar if you didn’t say your favorite scene was where Jessie broke down crying after coming to terms with her caffeine pill addiction while crying out the most iconic line ever, “I’m so excited…I’m so excited…I’m so…scared”


In any event, some of Bayside’s most memorable students reunited over the weekend to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the hit sitcom. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zach Morris), Tiffany Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) and Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano) all gathered together to hit us right in the nostalgia. Notably missing were Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) and Dustin Diamond (Screech). Berkley wrote on her Instagram “FRIENDS FOREVER!!!” along with some sweet and fun hashtags. Lopez upped the ante and posted a video recapping the fun time the gang had as they reminisced on the days way back when. WHY WASN’T THIS TELEVISED?!? Many are speculating the reunion to be the beginnings of a reboot or revival but nothing of the sort has yet been confirmed.



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FRIENDS FOREVER #spousestoo!!!❤️❤️❤️#imsoexcited #buddybands #love #friends #family #life #magic

A post shared by Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (@elizberkley) on



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Credit card roulette comin up! #OldSchool

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