'American Reunion': Have we entered the era of late-'90s nostalgia?

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Image Credit: Hopper Stone

It’s been 13 years since Jason Biggs was first caught red-handed and in flagrante delicious with his mom’s apple pie, and that’s pretty much exactly the right amount of time for us to get nostalgic about it. At least, that’s the hope of the producers of American Reunion, which brings the whole crew together for another go-round, and where even the wacky sexual exploits seem to be done with a bit of wistful remembrance of days gone by, like Proust (if instead of eating the madeleine, he had intercourse with it).

Between American Reunion and the new 3-D release of Titanic, have we reached the point where the sliding scale of generational nostalgia has finally creeped up into the late-‘90s? The timing’s about right. Just think back to American Graffiti, George Lucas’ last work before he got sucked into the lucrative vacuum of space. The film came out in 1973 and was a encomium to the early-‘60s, built out of Lucas’ own memories of cruising around town to the sounds of early rock ‘n’ roll and Ron Howard’s voice. That atmosphere (particularly the Ron Howard part) would be evoked again shortly after in Happy Days, and even American Pie’s namesake, the Don McLean song, was rife with pining for the days before the music died.

All this is just to say that it typically takes about 12-15 years for the nostalgia life cycle to kick into effect—time enough for high school students to grow up into thirtysomethings—meaning that right now, we’re smack-dab in the age of boy bands and Star Wars prequels. So then is it any surprise that the poppets of One Direction have gotten so popular, or that we all just collectively relived the horror of Jar Jar Binks, now in 3-D? Or take a movie like 21 Jump Street, which is not only based on the idea of adults returning to live out their high school days, but also nails, in Jonah Hill’s flashback scenes, the poseur-Eminem aesthetic of white tees and bleach-blond Caesar cuts. Heck, even James Van Der Beek is coming back to TV.

So if pop culture has reached a point of fond longing for the late-‘90s, what else can we look forward to? Retro brickphones from Nokia? The return of the ubiquitous AOL CD-ROM-slash-coaster? All I know is that, for the love of God, nobody tell Limp Bizkit that this is happening.

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