American Pie: Reunion, Jon Hurqitz & Hayden Schlossberg, 112 mins (15)
Safe, Boaz Yakin, 95 mins (15)
Monsieur Lazhar, Philippe Falardeau, 94 mins

You can reheat a pie as often as you want, but it will never taste the way it did

It may be notorious for the moment its hormonal teenage hero vented his frustrations on a pastry, but American Pie also had a heart, a sheaf of tightly scripted storylines, and more exquisitely timed comic set-pieces than the combined works of Judd Apatow and the Farrelly brothers. Better still, it had a sense of purpose. The four protagonists all pledged to lose their virginities by the time they left school – and movie plots don't get more urgent than that.

It's this men-on-a-mission momentum that's missing from the film's third sequel, American Pie: Reunion, which reassembles the cast after a nine-year break. Seeing them all as thirtysomethings is still intriguing, though. Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan are now a married couple with a toddler instead of a sex life. Seann William Scott's Stifler is the same sociopathic party animal he always was. Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Mena Suvari, and all the others you can barely remember have their own minor issues, too. But having re-introduced the characters, the film doesn't do anything with them except gather them for a school reunion. And even that premise is fumbled: it's the 13th anniversary of their graduation, not the 10th.

The first of the films not to be written by the series' creator, Adam Herz, this fourth slice of American Pie is nonetheless filled to the crust with affection for his characters – an affection it assumes that its audience will share. It relies on our being so happy to hang out with the gang again, listening to them talk about how old they feel, that we won't mind the script being only mildly funny. Like most class reunions, this one is better in anticipation than in the event.

Jason Statham has never made any claim to versatility, but when it comes to kicking his way through a roomful of bad guys while growling one-liners and keeping a straight face, Statham does it better than anyone since Arnie, Bruce and Sly. He's also an idol to follically challenged men everywhere. (Not that that's relevant to me.) It's just a pity that his films are rarely worthy of his presence in them, as you'll know if you've suffered through the Transporter trilogy, Death Race, Killer Elite or The Mechanic. Thank goodness, then, for Safe, a hard-boiled New York crime thriller which is just as efficient, unpretentious, and wryly aware of its own silliness as Statham himself.

Far more sophisticated in its storytelling than any of the Transporter films, Safe starts by nipping around the globe, and back and forth in time, until we're up to speed on its characters. It may not make much sense, but the plot is packed with enough twists and revelations to keep things moving until the next well-staged shoot-out or fight scene. We meet a young maths genius (Catherine Chan) who is used as a human databank by unsavoury criminals. When she memorises a vital safe combination, she becomes a target for Russian mobsters, Chinese mobsters and corrupt policemen, who seem to be competing to see who can kill the most innocent New Yorkers. Luckily for her, Statham may not be the washed-up cage fighter he first appears to be. He may, in fact, be ... a Jason Statham character. Let battle commence.

In the arresting opening sequence of Monsieur Lazhar, a boy glimpses the hanging body of his schoolteacher through a chink in the classroom door, a scene typical of the grace and subtlety with which Philippe Falardeau's French-Canadian drama handles weighty matters. After the suicide, a new teacher arrives: a gentlemanly Algerian refugee (Mohamed Fellag) with a tragedy of his own to come to terms with. He's a descendant of many inspirational teachers in film, but unlike Robin Williams, Julia Roberts and the rest, he's more interested in doing a decent job than in changing lives. The film as a whole is just as modest, dealing intelligently with such hot topics as immigration, education, bereavement and corporal punishment, but remaining charming and amusing all the way to the home bell. Oscar-nominated in this year's Best Foreign Language category, it's one of few movies to be set in a school that don't keep trying to teach us something.

Critic's choice

Greta Gerwig leads the fragrant, Firbank-quoting maidens in Damsels in Distress, a witty, eccentric comeback from long-lost Metropolitan and Barcelona director Whit Stillman. The French screen's tough guy par excellence was Jean Gabin. A retrospective at BFI Souththbank features Marcel Carné's 1938 classic Le Quai des Brumes, with the mesmerisingly bereted Michèle Morgan.

Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?