Synopsis: You’re on the guest list – for this unrated version of American Wedding! The American Pie gang returns to wreak havoc with a new rite of passage when Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) decide to get married! Of course, Stifler (Seann William Scott) will be there (bridesmaids!) and, more importantly, will throw the ultimate bachelor party (strippers!). So RSVP for the ultimate American Wedding experience, in this hilariously hot, frantically funny, final chapter of the unforgettable American Pie saga!
American Wedding 6.5
eyelights: its natural progression of the ‘American Pie’ story.
eyesores: its weakened ensemble cast. Stifler. its terrible, contrived gags. its editing.
“Love isn’t just a feeling, it’s shaving your balls.”
Whoever thought that it would come to this? Not that one of the ‘American Pie‘ characters would end up getting married, but that the ‘American Pie’ series would end on such a dull note? Say what you will about the franchise, which is flawed in inception and execution, but at least it had some amount of zest to it, a vibrance that you can mostly get with libidinous youth.
By 2003’s ‘American Wedding’, the third entry in this phenomenally -and inexplicably- popular sex comedies, the gang’s all growned up and is now dealing with the serious matter of nuptials. Unfortunately, it takes the subject far too seriously and tries to be far too respectful of the traditions surrounding American weddings – whereas the series strength was once its irreverence.
What the picture would have benefit most from would have been something along the tone of ‘Bachelor Party‘. Except that it already exists, and I suppose that there’s no way that Jason Bigg’s Jim could ever fill the shoes of Tom Hanks’ Rick. And so the filmmakers went for a more run-of-the-mill picture, trying their hardest to use their once-colourful cast to pepper the proceedings.
Problem is that what once an ensemble cast has been dwindled down to a mere handful of bland characters, what with the notable absence of Chris and all of the girls except for Michelle, the bride-to-be. The only exception in this sorry set of sad sacks is Stifler, who suddenly moves from supporting player to co-star, along with Jim and Michelle; it all revolves around him.
Now, there was a time when this would have been a welcome change: Stifler’s sardonic and obtuse comments and behaviour always livened things up. Unfortunately, this particular incarnation of Stifler is an entirely different beast: he’s not smug and aloof, he’s actually eager for laughs, and his desperation reeks to high heaven. The fact that he isn’t at all funny isn’t helping.
Meanwhile, the others go through their motions: Jim is sensitive but somehow a complete f- up, Kevin is a great paperweight, and Finch continues with his Nicholas Cage impersonation better than Cage can anymore. And Michelle, who was once a nice surprise, now wavers between artificially-perky and utter blandness, as she becomes Hollywood’s standard fiancé, a stereotype in white.
Even the gags are so contrived and/or trite that it pained me to watch:
- Jim and Michelle are having dinner in a fancy restaurant. He is planning to propose but his dad calls to warn him that he forgot the ring. Somehow. But he’s on his way. Somehow, Michelle misunderstands Jim and thinks he wants her to go under the table to give him head. Which she does. Enter dad. As per usual, Jim is totally unable to manage the situation and makes things worse, embarrassing everyone involved. Still, he manages to propose.
- The wedding party, a quaint affair that bemuses Jim’s party buddies, is crashed by Stifler, who shows up in a yellow school bus. He and Jim somehow get cake all over themselves and one of Michelle’s parents’ dogs gets to licking Stifler’s crotch – which he enjoys and allows to happen. So Jim tries to get the dog off Stifler, while the other dog humps his leg. Cue the parents, who find the pair in a “compromising” position with their dogs.
- Stifler isn’t invited to the wedding, but offers Jim some dance lessons in exchange for an invitation. Again, the old Stifler wouldn’t actually give a crap about the wedding, and it makes no sense that he was forced to take dance lessons as a kid. But it’s the filmmakers’ way of teaching Jim to dance and redeeming Stifler. However, the scenes are long and boring, and at no point does watching the pair dance ever become funny.
- For some reason, the gang has to go to Chicago to get Michelle a wedding dress. When they arrive, Leslie, the designer, has gone for the day. But they were tipped that Leslie is going to the clubs that night, so they hit the strip looking for her – with no sense of who they’re looking for. WTF. Well, the only reason for this contrivance is to get Stifler in a gay club and get him into a dance-off with another dude – a shitty dance-off, at that. It wasn’t funny, but if only it had impressed. Alas. So double-fail.
- Finch is introduced to Cadence, Michelle’s sister, who’s here for the wedding. She expresses interest in philosophy, which intrigues him. But Stifler decides he want a piece of that, and they compete for her attention the rest of the picture. It’s not even funny, though the fact that they eventually switched personas was interesting for the split second that they did it. The only good part about it is that Stifler frequently acted like his usual pervy self the moment Cadence and her mom turned their backs.
- The guys decide to throw Jim a bachelor party and hire a couple of call girls without his knowledge – on the very night that he plans to have dinner with Michelle’s parents to get their blessing. It becomes awkward the moment that Jim realizes that the others are all hiding in various nooks and crannies around the house, a situation done to death and utterly contrived and unfunny. I’d rather watch ‘Three’s Company’, and that’s saying a lot. I laughed literally zero times during this lengthy scene.
- Jim decides to trim his pubes for the wedding night. Aside for the unusually large amount of bush that falls to the floor (!), it’s not especially funny. For some reason, he decides to toss it all out of the window instead of the toilet. Of course, it catches in the ventilation below and goes right into the kitchen, to everyone’s embarrassment. At least seeing the wedding cake being carried out, covered in pubes, was quite a sight.
- Stifler, who’s been super polite and nice to Cadence and her mom, was entrusted with the wedding ring – but tossed it to the dogs while feeding them. Um… because he kept it in pocket. And… um… because this happens. So, naturally, the dogs ate the food along with the rings. Because… um… a large metal ring is easy to gobble. Anyway, Stifler has to wait around for the dog to pooh to get the ring back. And, when it does, the result is mistaken for a chocolate truffle by Cadence’s mom, forcing Stifler to eat it before she does. Naturellement. There are so many reasons why this doesn’t make any sense and it’s not funny that it’s beyond redemption.
- At the wedding, Jim’s grandmother doesn’t approve of Michelle because she’s not Jewish, so he has a couple of buddies keep her busy so that she doesn’t cause a ruckus. Sick of babysitting her, they decide to put her in a closet – the very closet that Stifler plans to meet Cadence in to get frisky. Um… because it’s the only closet in the whole frickin’ place. And because Stifler can’t tell the difference between an 80-year-old in a wheelchair and a young waif like Cadence. Riiiight. He’s stupid, but c’mon!
The rest of the film is the wedding proper, with a few “touching” exchanges between various characters, and then the ceremony itself, with is as bland as can be expected. Perhaps some people were moved by all of this, but I found this a poor way to end a series that once prided itself on breaking many of the rules – poorly, but at least it didn’t just fall in line like this one does.
This is just one sad ending to the series: ‘American Wedding’ is poorly-written (Where are the funny gags, or the one-liners?), poorly-constructed (The transitions between scenes are particularly blunt!) and poorly-cast (Where are the others? It’s like they never existed!). It’s not really a bad movie, per se, but it’s very average for its genre, and it’s just not particularly funny.
To paraphrase T.S. Elliott, “This is how the Pie ends: Not with a bang, but with whimper”.
Date of viewing: September 5, 2016