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American Wedding By Matt Singer
In a summer sick with movie titles that stretch for miles, itís shocking that the creators of the third American Pie film chose a title like American Wedding as opposed to, say, American Pie 3: American Wedding or American Pie 3 Tomb Raider: Curse of the Black Pearl. But the title is, indeed, American Wedding, short and sweet and to the point, and the movie itself is reasonably short, warm, funny, without an ounce of subtlety. A nuclear bomb test more subtle than American Wedding, but the humor of this series has always been found in outlandish, frequently disgusting sex farce, and this one is no exception. If it succeeds to a larger degree than the first Pie sequel it still suffers some of the same drawbacks; namely, an uneasy plot with confusing holes.
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The focus is once again on Jim (Jason Biggs) who has just graduated from college with his girlfriend Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and is thinking about the future. He proposes - poorly, with a great deal of public sexual humiliation - and the wedding is on. This at least, is a nice, natural evolution of these characters, as opposed to American Pie 2 which had NO story whatsoever and plopped every single character from the original in a beachhouse for an hour and a half. Wedding has slimmed down the cast, and while no one will miss Tara Reid or Natasha Lyonne, it would have been nice to hear why Chris Kleinís Oz would miss one of his best friendsí wedding. No doubt a reference was filmed and left on the cutting room floor, along with the girlfriend Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) alludes to but is never seen, and some of Hanniganís work since she disappears through most of the middle hour of the film.
The Wedding hero certain to go unsung is Eddie Kaye Thomasí Finch, who steals every scene he is in with his suave, subtle delivery. The hero who will get more credit than he deserves is Seann William Scott as Stiffler, who no longer seems to operate as an actual person and exists as an Urkel-esque caricature of his former self. Where there once was a simple-minded horny jock, now stands a snorting, gasping pod person with only a vague semblance of humanity. That Stiffler gets most of the biggest gags - including a revolting and ingenious poop joke - does not dim the fact that his character has mentally regressed into preadolescence and that by the end of the second film he seemed to be buddies with all of the Pie leads except Finch, and they now act like heís the mentally handicapped kid who keeps asking to play baseball with you.
Though three different directors have worked on the Pie series, there has been a thematic and tonal continuity from the scripts by Adam Herz. The first film was actually a double-threat, a uproariously funny gross-out comedy with notes of genuine sweetness. Herz loves to torture Jim and company, but there is also an undeniably affection for these characters as well; no matter how inappropriately they act, we always forgive them. Once again,Weddingís dog-humping jokes works, but so do the touching wedding vows, and I donít know of too many recent comedies that would have the ability, or even the guts, to attempt that combination. Much of Herzís warmth comes out through Jimís Dad (Eugene Levy). Levy is a great comedian, but what makes his parts in the Pie films so great is just how much he loves Jim. Watch Levyís wonderful reaching when he learns that Jim considers his Dad the best source of advice.
So Wedding, like American Pie 2, doesnít rate with the original, and has little reason for existing, but it works better for longer and if this is the last we see of these characters (and by all rights it should be) it is a fine sendoff for a key piece of my teenage years.