They’ve gone through high school (American Pie) and college (American Pie 2). So now it’s time to dramatize the next big chapter in these sex-starved, retro characters’ lives — that contemporary rite of passage: getting married way too young in a wedding way too big.
To quote the traditional wedding toast:
* “Something borrowed”: The Porkey’s-esque situations of the previous two films are sure-fire hilarity.
* “Something blue”: All the comedy is so raunchy, you can’t help but feel like a giddy sophomore (but is that so bad?).
* “Something old”: Despite all the bad taste, the movie is ultimately a touching celebration of old-fashioned values like friendship and marital fidelity.
* “Something new”: Under the direction of Jesse Dylan (How High, and yes, he’s Bob’s son), the last version is the trilogy’s best, showing occasional evidence of maturity and a seasoned comedic touch.
In a side-splitting opening scene in a fancy restaurant, Jim Levinstein (Jason Biggs, American Pie) is about to pop the question to his beloved, Michelle (Alyson Hannigan, American Pie 2). But first he must get his pants pulled up and get Michelle out from under the table (where she has vanished to perform a certain naughtiness on him) before his father arrives with the ring. Dad (Eugene Levy, Best of Show) remains ever-supportive, and his loving but inane advice provides the sweet wisdom of the movie.
Determined to give Michelle the wedding of her dreams, Jim enlists the help of his friends on matrimony-planning adventures, which lead to one outrageous sexcapade after another. Complicating Jim’s plans for a trouble-free wedding is his old nemesis, Stifler, the manic, ADD scene-stealer played by Sean William Scott (American Pie 2). Stifler surprises everyone with his secret talent — he can dance like a ballroom champion. In a gay bar, he engages in a testosterone-fueled dance duel (worth the price of admission all by itself, believe me!) with a burly hunk named Bear (TV actor Eric Allan Kramer), and the two men become friends. (Proof of American Wedding’s general good spirits is that the relationship between the gay and straight men, so often portrayed onscreen with nasty homophobia, is here one of benign admiration.)
Adding to the sexual tension of the pre-wedding jitters is the arrival of Michelle’s beautiful younger sister, Cadence (January Jones, Anger Management). Stifler and the pseudo intellectual Fitch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) vie for her attention with suitably ridiculous male-rivalry results. And yet for all of the film’s sensitivity regarding male-bonding issues, American Wedding is surprisingly deficient where its female characters are concerned.
The wan bride-to-be expresses no reason for loving her fiancee beyond their creative sexual adventures. The mother of the bridegroom is barely seen, and the mother of the bride is more concerned about which of the best men will carry the ring than she is about assuring that her daughter is prepared for the weighty responsibility of being a wife. And neither Jim nor Michelle, about to set out on a lifetime of joint financial responsibility, expresses even one concern about the cost of this enormous wedding, nor to how they will support themselves afterwards.
Oh, well, it’s a movie. I guess we’ll have to wait for American Baby for reality to set in.
–reviewed by Marci Miller