American Wedding Reviewby Robin Clifford (robin AT reelingreviews DOT com)
August 1st, 2003
In the original screwball high school comedy, "American Pie," it was all about our hero, Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs), losing his virginity and a particular piece of pastry. The screwball college comedy sequel, "American Pie 2," dealt with Jim's rites of passage into the responsibilities of adulthood...and more pastry. Now, it's the next step and Jim must face his biggest challenge of all when he and his fiancée, Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), plan an "American Wedding."
I had seen the original "American Pie" and, besides the wonderfully befuddled performance by Eugene Levy as Jim's dad, I found it to be a sophomoric teen guy flick that appealed to the lowest common denominator - sex. There was the usual banter and ragging among the key players, lots of toilet humor and much akin to film's like "Porky's." I didn't see "American Pie 2" but expect it was more of the same. I figured, with the third in the series dealing with the sanctity of marriage, what the heck, it might not be so bad.
Surprise! While "American Wedding" runs down the expected checklist - toilet humor, sex humor, doggie doo doo humor (or gag, which is a more appropriate word - you'll see what I mean), pubic hair humor, straight-guy-in-a-gay-bar humor, even sex-with-dogs (sort of) jokes and, of course, the wedding cake - there are enough laughs and comical gross outs to keep all chuckling (keeping in mind that lowest common denominator). One of the reasons for this is that the principal characters, Jim and Michelle, are not the focus of the film. Sure, their wedding and all the pratfalls surrounding it are the catalyst for the action but it is the side paths that make "American Wedding" amusing.
Seann William Scott, as the foul-mouthed, dirty-minded, over-sexed Stifler, reprises his previous perfs, but with a difference. When he first enters the scene he is just as we knew him from before. He says whatever is on his mind, usually swear word-laden, and sex is premier on his mind. But, when he meets Michelle's pretty, virginal sister Cadence (January Jones), he changes his tack and becomes the living embodiment of a Ken doll. He's polite, a real gentleman and courteous to Cadence's mom. He thinks he's in like Flint, until Jim's other friend, Finch, joins the fray.
Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is everything that the real Stifler is not. He is genuinely polite and courteous and he, too, has a major crush on pretty Cadence. But, since Stifler stole his aw-shucks-nice-guy persona, Finch goes the bad boy route and, to his pleasant surprise, she likes it! This begins a battle of wits as each of the opponents attempt to pitch amour to Cadence. This little war makes for the most fun in "American Wedding."
The supporting cast does their job well, especially Levy as Jim's dad. The actor delivers his deadpan lines with the humor you expect as he moves from being embarrassed about sex talk with Jim to telling his son far too much - more than Jim will ever need to know - about his own sex life. Eric Alan Kramer plays a gay pimp, of sorts, who befriends the boys and helps them out when Stifler says he is looking for strippers for Jim's bachelor party. (For all of its bawdy humor "American Wedding" is very PC politically.) Fred Willard and Deborah Rush play Michelle's dad and mom but are only allowed to be the recipients of the looniness, not participants.
"American Wedding" has a huge, built in audience waiting for it and, if the reactions of the screening audience are any indications, it will be huge. It doesn't hurt that the 14-24 year old male audience get to see strippers Officer Krystal and Fraulein Brandi (Nikki Schieler Ziering and Amanda Swisten) shake their luscious stuff. I give it a B-.
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