American Wedding

The latest (and supposedly the last) installment in the American Pie series is American Wedding, a good example of diminishing returns. The movies are exercises in extreme crudity, yet excel from other teen movies because they are able to mix the toilet humor with a sense of poignancy and emotion. That element is still here, but not as prominent as before. The core characters remain Jim (Jason Biggs, Saving Silverman, American Pie 2) and Jim's Dad (Eugene Levy, Dumb & Dumberer, A Mighty Wind), and Stifler (Seann William Scott, Bulletproof Monk, Old School). Notably missing are Chris Klein, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Natasha Lyonne, and Shannon Elizabeth. They didn't have much to do in the last installment, and coincidentally, are the only ones (aside from Levy) who are actually going somewhere with their movie careers.

As its name implies, American Wedding is about the wedding between Jim and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan, Boys and Girls, American Pie 2). Jim finally gets the guts to pop the question, and the rest of Adam Herz's (American Pie 2, American Pie) script deals with all the embarrassing and scatological things that can go wrong with planning a wedding. Most have to do with Stifler, who isn't invited yet eagerly begins planning a bachelor party. The rest deal with Jim trying to convince Michelle's father (Fred Ward, A Mighty Wind, How High) and mother (Deborah Rush, Bad Company, The Good Girl) that he is worthy enough for Michelle. The twist is that Alyson's sister Cadence (January Jones, Anger Management, Full Frontal) is in town. She is smart and beautiful, and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas, Stolen Summer, American Pie 2) sets his sights on her. He has to compete with Stifler, who pretends to be courteous and smart in order to get in her pants.

This sequel is squarely in the mindset of the first two Pie movies, but director Jesse Dylan (How High), who happens to have a father named Bob and brother named Jakob, doesn't really do anything inspiring. Yes, pubic hair is everywhere, somebody eats dog feces, and other assorted crudity is everywhere, but now they're just milking the franchise instead of doing anything original. It is a good place to end, because any additional films would seem purely for profit, and Herz did try to make the characters grow. Jim began as an awkward teenager, and is now an awkward groom. Stifler does some much needed maturing. For Biggs and Scott, this would also be a good time to end the characters that have defined their careers, since anything more would be pathetic. Part of what made the other two Pie movies fun was the fact that the women were just as tough as the men. American Wedding is lacking in any sort of meaningful female presence. Hannigan's Michelle is a wonderful character, but criminally underutilized here. And Jones cannot stand up to the other missing women. For much of the film, Biggs' character worries that he doesn't know what to do. That pretty much sums up a lot of this movie.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 41 minutes, Rated R for sexual content, language, and crude humor.

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