American Wedding (2003)
So it looks like Jim (Jason Biggs) and his bang-camp lovin’ girlfriend Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are going to tie the knot. As the wedding approaches hilarious hijinks ensue. Thats really about it plot-wise. Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) makes a return to goose every one up for a wedding, which also promises bridesmaids and a bachelor party. More hijinks ensue until the wedding.
The best thing the American Pie makers did was shaving down their overloaded cast. Gone are Chris Klein, Mena Suvari, Natascha Lyonne, Shannon Elizabeth, and Tara Reid. And good riddance I say. What made American Pie 2 an improvement, for me, was that they focused on the interesting characters (Jim, Michelle, Stifler, Finch) and then gave the others some scant storyline. The comedy worked better when it wasnt so divided among characters that weren’t equal in being compelling.
Scott is a whirling comic Tasmanian devil; with his twitchy weaselly grin, his drunken leer, and near spitfire delivery of such profanity-laden lines. The Stifler character has come a long way since having only 11 lines in 1999’s American Pie. He emerged as a strong supporting character in the 2001 sequel, igniting the screen whenever he entered. Now Scott has become the de facto star of the American Pie trilogy: it’s really all about the rise and evolution of Stifler. Hes gone from being the sneering jerk to becoming a lovable loudmouth. American Wedding is really the Steve Stifler show. He shouts, dances, and eats dog crap all for your enjoyment people. Scotts efforts and energy are so transcendent that he rightfully owns the film, much in the same way Johnny Depp entirely owned Pirates of the Caribbean.
Biggs and Hannigan have a lovely charm to them and both are blessed with radiant smiles. Eugene Levy is still hilarious as the dad who has a problem with over sharing. The other actors serve out their roles from straight-guy (Thomas Ian Nicholas) to horrible-reaction-guy (Eddie Kaye Thomas).
Not everything works as smoothly the third slice around. Some jokes are inspired like the one-upsmanship of a bachelor party gone awry when Michelle’s parents interrupt (which, like the second film, provides the gratuitous nudity). Some jokes feel dull, especially some misbegotten pubic hair belonging to Jim. And then some jokes just lose their momentum as they seem to stretch. Stifler dancing in a gay bar just to prove he can make even gay men want him? Funny. Have it go on and on with substandard dancing for a dance-off? Loses the funny. But with any comedy, and especially ones following the gross-out expectations, everything is hit-or-miss.
I also noticed something quite odd about American Wedding: it’s badly directed. Many scenes are shot at oblique angles often with characters not even facing the camera. The cutting seems awkward as well as the framing. The film was directed by Jesse Dylan (How High), who is, no joke, a son of the legendary Bob.
American Wedding seems like a fitting end to these characters journeys. Its a comedy ripe with laugh-out-loud moments and groaners, mostly supplied by Scott. There’s also a degree of sweetness. In a summer drenched in sequels, at least one of them fulfilled some of its promise.
Nate’s Grade: B-