American Wedding
review by Dan Lybarger, 8 August 2003

The American Pie films have become sleeper hits because they demonstrate that people in the U.S. never seem to get enough jokes involving sex or distasteful bodily functions. Fortunately, it also shows that the public craves likable characters and flashes of genuine wit. The limp and fleeting appeal of such recent stinkers as Boat Trip and Sorority Boys demonstrates it takes more than skin and body wastes to make gross out humor work. With American Wedding, the novelty of watching Jason Biggs caught in yet another absurd compromised position starts to lose its novelty, even if no more pastries are defiled. As much fun as might be to see Seann William Scott ingesting dog feces, itís returning screenwriter Adam Herzís examination of his charactersí hearts that keeps American Wedding from being a rote exercise in tastelessness. Because the characters going through Herzís bizarre trials are sympathetic, itís possible to care about them once the pubic hairs have cleared.

In this installment, pie lover Jim (Jason Biggs) and band camp veteran Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) have finally decided to tie the knot. Despite their deep affection and even deeper lust for each other, Jimís bizarre curse with all things carnal comes back to haunt him. Thanks to his well-meaning father (the always welcome Eugene Levy), Jim's simple proposal turns into a scene of colossal embarrassment.

Things don't improve once the invitations are sent. Because her parents (Fred Willard and Deborah Rush) have little regard for Jim, he decides it might be wise to exclude his shockingly boorish pal Stifler (Seann William Scott) from the ceremony. Stifler not only takes offense but even goes to Herculean lengths to participate and possibly (gasp!) help.  Knowing that his almost superhuman hedonism is a potential obstacle, Stifler actually pretends to be a gentleman around Michelle's clan. He sports an eerie pastel Izod shirt and manages to complete sentences without using profanity. Come to think of it, merely completing sentences is a normally a challenge for this guy. He also starts making tasteful glances at Michelle's attractive sister Cadence (January Jones), and watching him hand his intended a flower reminds the folks who know him of seeing primitive man discovering tools.

Seeing Stifler feigning and later actually developing a soul is what keeps American Wedding from ending in a quick divorce. His non-Pie roles like the dufus he played in Dude, Where's My Car? gave little hint of the range Scott actually has. Scott effortlessly switches from being a repulsive alpha male to showing genuine signs of sensitivity.

Herz also manages to give the character some wonderfully unexpected turns. Several movies like the unwatchable Boat Trip have features sequences where unsuspecting and not terribly bright straight guys stumble into gay bars. Herz and Scott manage to make the sequence fresh and hysterically funny by having Stifler get upset when he discovers that the bar's regular patrons don't lust after him. The end result is a dance off that has to be seen to be believed.

If Herz had trimmed some of the lamer sex jokes and given the talented Fred Willard more to do than be a dull straight man, American Wedding might have lost a few fans but gained some more. Thankfully he and director Jesse Dylan (Bob's son) have thought of enough funny material to make wading through some disgusting discharges worth it.

Directed by:
Jesse Dylan

Starring:
Jason Biggs
Seann William Scott
Alyson Hannigan
Eddie Kaye Thomas
Thomas Ian Nicholas
January Jones
Eugene Levy
Molly Cheek
Deborah Rush
Fred Willard
Angela Paton
Eric Allan Kramer
Amanda Swisten
Nikki Schieler Ziering
Lawrence Pressman

Written by:
Adam Herz

Rated:
R - Restricted
Under 17 requires
parent or adult
guardian.

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