American Wedding Reviewby Richard A. Zwelling (razwee AT yahoo DOT com)
August 20th, 2003
** 1/2 (out of ****)
a film review by
Richard A. Zwelling
The bad news is that the third installment in the American Pie series is not nearly as clever, original, or fresh as the first. The good news is that it is a vast improvement upon the second, and that overall, it represents a good, fun, mindless Friday-night-out at the movies.
Several notable characters are missing, but returning, as expected, are Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Allison Hannigan), who have now been going together for three years. Also back are Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), the pervert in the guise of a pretentious intellecual; Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), who has little to do in the film; and of course, actor Seann William Scott as the character that brought him fame, Steve Stifler, the vulgar, horny, walking id.
Jim has popped the question to Michelle, and the gang now focuses on preparations for the wedding. Things do not go as smoothly as planned, however, and things begin to go wrong as only an American Pie wedding could. Much of the humor arises from the addition of Michelle's parents, who have come to size up Jim as much as they have to help with the wedding. The attempts of Jim to present himself as a good husband and all-around decent person result in some extremely hilarious (and sometimes unsettling) moments.
There are times when American Wedding is laugh-out-funny, even in its most vile and grotesque moments (of which there are plenty). Not surprisingly, many of the funniest moments involve one of my favorite characters from the films, Jim's father, played brilliantly by Eugene Levy. Predictably, the more scatological humor arises from Stifler, who becomes a much more prominent character in this film. Let's just say that he has to face situations that test his manhood and make him confront his constant homophobia. At the start, he is much more annoying than he has been in the last two films, but we see later that it is for a purpose.
More often than not, however, I felt that the movie was trying too hard for laughs, either going over the top too quickly or replicating jokes from the previous two films with slight variations. Another complaint I have is the shortage of material for Michelle, one of my other favorite characters from the films. There are the usual lines you'd expect from the prim and proper band girl with the nympho lurking underneath, but nothing much more than this. Of course, with so much attention devoted to Jim, Michelle's parents, and Stifler, there is not much room left, but I found Michelle to be one of the few redeeming features of the second movie, and I had hoped to see more.
Will there be an American Pie 4? That seems to be a question many are asking. Keep an eye on American Wedding's box office grosses, and that will give you the answer. It's certainly not out of the question. I don't know what it would be, though. American Marriage? American Middle-Age Ennui? American Golden Years? Frankly, I found the story most compelling when we were dealing with teenage angst, and unless some radical changes are made, I find it hard to believe the concept will not wear thin very quickly. In a way, it already has.
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