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Jim's mom, Michelle's mom, Jim's dad
and Michelle's dad react to the news
that there's going to be another
American Pie film.

American Wedding
Review written by: Alex Sandell

Two years ago, the American Pie series as most people know it, came to an end.  The original American Pie film successfully juggled gross-out humor with heartfelt themes of friendship, romance and family.  American Pie 2 managed to build on the gut-busting, heartwarming formula that made its predecessor an audience favorite.  Now along comes American Wedding, an entertaining, but entirely unnecessary sequel.  Unlike the second film, a large number of the original cast didn't return, and the movie feels like a forced ending to a trilogy that was meant to be a "two-parter."

American Wedding is an afterthought.  It's the cinematic equivalent of a band on a reunion tour that they swore would never happen.  I firmly believe the last American Pie was meant to be the last American Pie.  While the second film expanded upon everything that made the first something special, the third is a downgrade.  As far as downgrades go, it's pretty efficacious.  Although it sinks the series, I can't pretend that it wasn't a blast going down with the ship.

Adam Herz is back onboard as screenwriter.  Seductive apple pies, super glue as lube, and a ton of new reasons for people to check out band camp -- it all came from him.  But Herz is slacking this time around.  He's stringing together a series of outrageous comedy bits, with a story so weak, it almost seems to get in the way.  Although Jim and his dad (Eugene Levy) have never been better, the chemistry between many of the characters is all but gone.  Ironically, so are a lot of the characters.

Without the entire gang, the gang just doesn't feel like "the gang," anymore.  Especially with Oz (Chris Klein) missing.  It was a poor choice not to mention his name once during the course of the movie.  Even a line as simple as, "it's too bad Oz went Hollywood and turned into a prick.  He woulda been my best man."  Throw us a bone, here. 

Outside of Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan), all of the female cast members are MIA.  American Pie is one of the few "gross-out" comedies that appealed equally to men and women.  The "point/counter-point" stuff in the first two films was really fun.  Now, instead of "he said, she said," we basically get, "he said, he said," and it doesn't pack the same punch.  A new female is introduced in Michelle's sister, Cadence (January Jones), but she turns out to be a plot device leading into a comical battle between Steven Stifler (Seann William Scott) and Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). 

The "leftovers" in this film do their best to make you forget about everyone who's been left out.  Stifler is the star of the movie.  Deciding that playing the "nice guy" will win over the Flaherty sister, he becomes the perfect gentlemen.  This forces the relaxed Finch, who also wants to win the heart of the beautiful Cadence, to basically adopt Stifler's persona.  Finch and Stifler reversing their roles for the love of one woman is comedy at its most inspired. 

If all you're looking for is a good laugh, you won't be disappointed in American Wedding.  This is easily the funniest film of the season.  No scenes match the hilarity of Jim Levinstein (Jason Biggs) playing "Petey" at band camp, accidentally using super glue instead of lube, or ending his virginity with a pie, but some of them come pretty damn close, and there are enough of them to ignore the ones that don't even make it within striking distance of the original films (you know you're running out of ideas when you have one of your leading characters eating shit).

One of the main problems with American Wedding is that all it's there for is laughs.  The plot is disjointed, and entirely without flow.  One second Jim's going to talk to his future father and mother-in-law about why he's the right man for their daughter, and the next we're at the wedding.  The character of Kevin Myers (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is wasted.  At one point, he tells a stripper that his girlfriend has a strict "hands-off" policy.  Being that you never see Kevin's girlfriend in the film, I'm guessing an entire subplot was edited for time.  It's quite possible that a far better movie is waiting to be released in "special edition" form on DVD and video.   

In the meantime, we have a series of unorganized comedy pieces strung together in a rushed 90 minute film.  I've done a lot of done a lot of finger-pointing at the screenwriter, but I also think Jesse Dylan, the director of American Wedding, bit off more than he could chew.  He can stage a comedy scene with the best of them, but he turns incompetent whenever the screenplay tries to go serious. 

The Weitz brothers handled both sides of the pie with amazing panache in the original film.  The competent James B. Rogers did a tremendous job of recreating the feel the Weitz brothers brought to the first movie.  Jesse Dylan would be better suited directing a Police Academy film.  He gets the comedy, but doesn't remotely grasp anything involving character development.  You're guaranteed to laugh during this film, but you'll also feel pretty empty once the laughter dies. 

I had a good time with American Wedding, but I will forever consider the second movie to be the end of the American Pie series.  If Adam Herz quits now, he can still take the pie out of the oven before it goes from overdone to inedible.  To the writer's credit, he's able to leave America laughing, one last time. 

On a scale of 1-10?


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Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl

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Legally Blonde 2:  Red, White & Blonde

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Coming soon -- Reviews of S.W.A.T, Freddy VS Jason and Jeepers Creepers 2!


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Text (Copyright) 2003 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].