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American Pie – The Wedding: The Review

Director: Jesse Dylan

Cast: Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Alyson Hannigan, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, January Jones, Fred Willard and Eugene Levy

Plot: As Jim (Biggs) and Michelle (Hannigan) get closer to their wedding day, Jim’s friends try to arrange the stag do to end all stag dos.

American Pie: The Wedding isn’t as bad an idea as it sounds. The thing with American Pie is that, because its success is grounded in the fact that the lead characters go through the same trials and rites of passage as the viewer, every instalment has to make some kind of sense in terms of our own lives. You can’t just conjure up another sequel out of thin air, because you want to bring back the old gang and have some more immature gags. There needs to be a good reason for everyone to be brought back into the loveable world of American Pie. A wedding, in actual fact, kind of works. One of the gang, ironically the biggest klutz of the group, Jim, has finally gone ahead and done the elusive life goal of landing himself a pretty bride, a high school crush at that. While Jim’s character is pretty much an adult, his friends are still trapped in their childish ways, none so more than Steve Stiffler. That feeling of being left behind when your friends are finding and accepting maturity is another milestone in everyone’s lives, so when Stiffler vows to take Jim on the stag do of a lifetime, it does hit a chord with the viewers. Who doesn’t want a last chance to grab hold of the good old partying days? As well as that, Jim, himself, is struggling to find his feet now that he is supposed to be a fully-formed man yet still feels like the same old, confused child as he did in the very first film. This isn’t just a comedy; it is a dissection of growing up and how it affects you.

Only it isn’t. Not really. Nope, American Pie’s third slice of pie feels like a hollow cash-in from the first two films. None of that ascent into adulthood is explored as well as you want it to and the movie charges head-first through gag to gag, lacking the finesse that the first two movies balanced so lovingly. The big problem is that only half of the gang were foolish enough to wander back to their roots with American Pie. The absence of Chris Klein, Tara Reid and several other prominent characters is a little disheartening. Sure, we could argue the best ones are still around with Steve Stiffler almost taking the lead role, his antics dialled up further than ever before, and Michelle is the one remaining member of the original female cast. However, the reshuffling is awkward and keeps the film from feeling tonally sound. Kevin, who always came across as the leading force out of the characters, even if he respectfully allowed the other characters to take a slightly bigger role, is strangely lifeless here. His character is still there, beaming and taking part in the jokes, but he is the only character without a character arc on display. He is only here for old time’s sake and feels strangely adrift in the film, his only job throwing the occasional joke into the mix, which is limited in itself, because Kevin was always the straight guy in the other two films, often setting up the joke for the other, funnier characters, rather than delivering the punch-line himself. The new girl on the block, January Jones (I forgot she was in this!), isn’t up to much either. It’s not her fault; she is finally suffering what we were worried the original female cast would suffer, when this franchise kicked off: a lousy character. She is meant to be the object at the other end of the tunnel, the trophy for the finest suitor out of Stiffler or Finch. As a result, she is only ever asked to look pretty and look disgusted at the antics of the male characters. She is worlds away from Michelle, Nadia or anyone else for that matter. This remains for Jim, Stiffler, Finch and Michelle to shoulder the weight of the film and while they eventually become the saving grace here, the shortening of the cast list stops the ensemble factor from getting as ideal as it could have been. Bored with Stiffler? Tough because you are trapped with him eating dog poop and humping old ladies.

Somehow it salvages itself. The early part of the film works as your everyday gross-out comedy. A dance-off in a gay bar is up there with Seann William Scott’s career highlights and when the movie just gives up and descends into smut with two strippers and chocolate sauce, it delivers the laughs well, with a joke that just keeps growing and growing, until it hits its glorious punchline with a precise punch. Sure, it is more Will Ferrell calibre than American Pie, but it makes you laugh, so what more can you want? No, the real American Pie tone comes in at the very end. The jokes die down to appreciative chuckles and it stops trying to make you laugh, rather letting the actors use the chemistry they have honed with each other to keep you chortling. It hits the emotional chords that American Pie is best known for and as a result, the closing note has you leaving the film happy, rather than disappointed. Plus, it is nice knowing that, if this is the last we’ll see of the American Pie gang, at least Jim and Michelle got to have their happy ending.

Final Verdict: The standard nosedives with Wedding, but the ending is sweet enough to make it loveable.

Three Stars