American Wedding Review
By Shawn McKenzie 08/01/2003
Gross-out comedy is a tricky matter. If it goes right, you have There’s Something about Mary. If it goes horribly wrong, you have Freddy Got Fingered. The man behind the American Pie movies, screenwriter Adam Herz, has brought us a third and presumably final installment with American Wedding, and he has gotten it right three for three.
After years of chasing women, Jim Levinstein (Jason Biggs) has had one constant woman in his life, Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan.) They have been dating for three years, and Jim wants to pop the question. After a highly embarrassing proposal, Michelle eagerly accepts. Jim’s parents (Eugene Levy and Molly Cheek) are happy, but Jim is worried about the reaction of Michelle’s parents, Harold (Fred Willard) and Mary Flaherty (Deborah Rush), whom he has never met before. Jim wants the wedding to be perfect, because he loves Michelle so much, but is running into many hurdles. He has to pick between close friends Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Kevin Myers (Thomas Ian Nicholas) to be his best man, keep the crude Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) away, learn to dance, get her parents’ approval (they got the wrong impression of him at the engagement party), and figure out what Michelle wants for the wedding. He enlists his friends to help him out with all these hurdles, which unfortunately includes Stifler. Finch does some recon and discovers that Michelle wants a dress designed a gay man named Leslie Summers (Reynaldo A Gallegos.) Jim and his friends (including Stifler) head up to a Chicago club to find the designer (who they think is a woman at first) and run into Bear (Eric Allen Kramer), a burly gay man who threatens to kick them out of the club. It’s not until Stifler impresses Bear with his dancing skills that they become friends with the guys. Leslie offers to design the dress, and Bear manages strippers, whom they may use at the bachelor party. Stifler offers to teach Jim how to dance if he can come to the wedding. Stifler has other motives for wanting to attend the wedding though. He overheard Michelle talking to her younger sister Cadence (January Jones) that the latter wants to lose her virginity to a nice guy. Michelle wants to set Cadence up with Finch (Kevin is apparently still dating Vicky, but Tara Reid never appears), which Finch is willing to do, since he feels the need to get over Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge.) Stifler wants to be Cadence’s first, so he starts pretending to be nice and cultured, which impresses her parents, but not her. Finch counteracts by acting crude, which peaks her interest a little. Meanwhile, Stifler naturally handles the bachelor party. Bear, dressed in fancy attire with butt-less chaps (and calling himself Mr. Belvedere), brings strippers Fraulein Brandi (Amanda Swisten) and Officer Krystal (Nikki Schieler Ziering) to the party. Unknown to them at the time is that’s the night Jim had chosen to invite Michelle’s parents over to convince them he was a good man for their daughter. Stifler once again saves the day, convincing them that the whole thing was staged to gain their acceptance. It seems Stifler saves the day quite often in this movie, as he accidentally does something with Jim’s grandmother (Angela Paton) that makes her happy (she originally objected to the union because Michelle wasn’t Jewish.) After all of these problems, Jim and Michelle have a wedding that they will never forget.
I think the American Pie movies and the Farrelly Brothers’ gross-out comedies stand out because they have heart. In between the embarrassing moments and the gross actions, you really care about these characters. Biggs and Hannigan have great chemistry together, and this was the first time I saw Michelle instead of Willow (am I finally getting over the loss of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer?”) It’s the most screen time Scott’s character Stifler has gotten so far, and if this is truly the last chapter, it is his character I will miss the most. Levy keeps doing the same shtick that he did in the first two movies, but it is still very funny.
I have to warn you about one scene. Each of the Pie movies has that one scene that grosses you out so much that you almost cover your eyes (they all seem to involve Stifler.) In this one, Stifler is forced to eat a pastry that isn’t really a pastry (if you are a John Waters fan, think of the last scene of Pink Flamingos.) Ummm…ewwww!
Adam Herz’s American Wedding felt like the perfect capper to a trilogy of extremely hilarious movies. Somehow he has managed to work well with the directors of each film (Paul and Chris Weitz for the first one, J.B. Rogers for the second one, and Jesse Dylan for this one) to put out some truly great comedies. Along the way, we have come to care about the adventures of Jim, Jim’s dad, band geek Michelle, the suave cultured Finch, the quiet Kevin, and even the crude Stifler. In case you were wondering…did this third movie suffer because of the absence of Chris Klein (Oz), Tara Reid (Vicky), Shannon Elizabeth (Nadia), Mena Suvari (Heather), Natasha Lyonne (Jessica), and Chris Owen (Sherman)? Not in the slightest. Heck, it could have done without Nicholas, who doesn’t really offer a lot to the film this time around. The most important, and funniest, players stayed, and that’s all that counts. It was nice to taste this final piece of the Pie!
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