Monday, 6 May 2013

American Pie: The Wedding (2003)

The gang (almost) all return for more bawdy comedy in this third American Pie movie that starts off with a hilariously embarrassing marriage proposal and might end with Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) walking up the aisle together. The focus here is very much on Stifler (Seann William Scott), a character who ends up invited along to the wedding, despite nobody actually wanting him there. He agrees to give Jim some dance lessons as long as he can attend the event, but quickly ends up causing trouble as he competes with Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) for the affections of Cadence (Michelle's younger sister, played by January Jones). Stifler starts to act innocent, Finch tries to appeal to Cadence by starting to act like a bad boy, a bachelor party is upset by some major mistiming and there are, as ever, one or two pieces of sage advice from Jim's dad (Eugene Levy).

The law of diminishing returns. That's what the American Pie franchise illustrates best. I'm not sure if it's something that could be applied literally, but it's certainly something that applies to the goodwill and laughs generated from the first movie. Of course, at least these official entries remain more enjoyable and humorous than the many spin-off films that used the brand name and a tenuous link (and Eugene Levy). There will be more talk of those at another time. When I endure/review them here.

There are some big laughs here. The aforementioned bachelor party has a teen-pleasing mix of comedy and nudity while a dance off featuring the unlikeliest of competitors remains the absolute highlight of the whole film. There are also lots of little laughs, whether they come from Stifler and Finch fighting to get time with Cadence or Jim nervously grooming himself in preparation for his big day. The problem is that these laughs aren't as fresh or actually funny as they were when the characters were first introduced.

Director Jesse Dylan and writer Adam Herz made a smart decision in shedding some of the popular characters who had already outstayed their welcome by the end of the second movie, but there's nothing they can do to recapture that magic that was there in the first movie.

Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eugene Levy, Eddie Kaye Thomas, January Jones, Fred Willard, Eric Allan Kramer and everyone else does a great job, but they also have to stand back on a number of occasions and leave space for Seann William Scott to go through his repertoire of curse-words and funny faces. It just manages to remain an ensemble piece, but there are many times throughout the movie when it becomes little more than The Stifler Show (a good or bad thing, depending on how you react to the character).

If you enjoyed the first two movies then you'll enjoy this one. You just might not enjoy it as much as the preceding instalments in the franchise.


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