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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.92%
Worth A Look58.49%
Average: 4.72%
Pretty Bad: 0.94%
Total Crap: 17.92%

7 reviews, 64 user ratings

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American Wedding
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by Erik Childress

"Didn't Need Help To Make Me Laugh"
4 stars

Going to see American Wedding at the press screening was a kind of lithmus test for my professional vocation. The first American Pie was released in 1999 when my thoughts were only shared on a single radio show in Chicago. Then I missed out on the screening for the sequel in 2001 and never wrote a review. Both opportunites lent to me seeing the films with my group of friends in packed theaters where laughter, at least from a studio standpoint, can be contagious. Would such a theory hold water as I ventured into American Wedding two years later, critically cynical as ever, sitting amongst the rows of press albeit in a packed theater of pass winners? It didn't work for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and it sure as hell didn't work for Bad Boys II. Maybe that's because I laugh when I find something funny and not because others do. The audience laughed a lot at American Wedding and I laughed almost as much.

After seeing the second film, I observed that it may as well have been called "Jim & Stifler" since those characters had all the best scenes and the series was already shifting away from the intricacies that bounded the group dynamic in the original. Someone was paying attention as these two are once again front and center. Several of the regulars are back (Finch, Kevin, Band Geek Michelle & Jim's Dad) while Vicky, Jessica & Chris Klein's Oz are MIA and never even mentioned. It's unfortunate that some closure couldn't be given to their characters, but you just know they were asked to appear in the film and obviously turned it down. So screw 'em, I say. Especially you Klein.

Jim Levinstein (Jason Biggs) is coming full circle. From horny teenager to discovering how to please a woman in-and-OUT of the bedroom to taking the big plunge into adulthood through marriage. It's been three years since he's been dating Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan) and it wouldn't be a proposal without something going wrong despite something going SO right. (See the movie.)

Stifler ([Seann William Scott) is universally on the unwanted list for the wedding, but catches wind of it and is determined to ingratiate himself; first to just have a bachelor party and eventually to woo Cadence (January Jones), the sister of the bride. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) saw her first though and will continue his personal vendetta against the Stifmeister to win her heart. Their grudgematch leads to some of the film's best laughs.

Everyone in the film seems to be aware that the wedding is not going to go as smoothly as planned. Jim even laments about always wanting to do the right thing but continues to screw up. Its scenes like this and the quiet moments between him and his dad (perfectly played by Eugene Levy) that make the film's gross-out and comic set pieces tolerable in a way that films which depend solely on the raunch will never aspire to.

Part two fundamentally copied the same outline as the first one with its set pieces and still managed to pull huge laughs out of us. Every one that works though usually is doppleganged by one that falls completely flat. Why would one throw their shaved pubic hair out a window when a trash can or a toilet would suffice? Stifler's bachelor party can't even wait for Jim to arrive to get going, striving for the same high point that came with the internet and lesbian stripdown from the previous films and mostly succeeds. Another great sequence in a gay bar doesn't stretch as easily as it could have into homophobia, instead turning into a naturally funny and ultimately sweet sequence as Stifler must salvage the damage he's caused by going mano-a-mano on the dance floor with the patron he insulted (Eric Allan Kramer, in a wonderfully timed comic performance.)

American Wedding does manage to come up with a gag that surely lives up to its name. Without giving it away, I sat there and saw the makings of it, praying that the players wouldn't go there. Then they do and actually flip it on its ears to make it very funny. Then the joke goes on and it lingers to the point where I had to look away. Thankfully, in a summer full of theatrical gimmicks the American Wedding audience is not asked to participate in Taste-O-Vision.

Huge credit is long overdue to Jason Biggs for being more than just a good sport throughout this trilogy. Sure, he's the "pie fucker" who got caught prematurely twice on the internet, glued himself to…himself and the various other scrapes he gets into this time around, but would we be with him all the way if we just thought he was an idiot? Biggs' Jim should be a model for every adolescent boy; someone who is prone to do stupid things but has an integrity to always want to do better.

Seann William Scott is Jim's polar opposite and quite the mugging individual to boot. He overplays Stifler in the beginning as he settles back into the outrageousness of the character, but gets to show a bit more range this time around. A bit. Whether Stifler driving the schoolbus is a direct homage to Tom Hanks in Bachelor Party is a bit far reaching, but screenwriter Adam Herz does the smart thing by attempting to evolve these characters without overcompensating for closure. Stifler gets his comuppances and may try to redeem himself in the eyes of others, but he will always be Stifler and people like Finch will always have a reason to hate him. And we love to hate him too.

Many people who dislike the film will focus on the oh-so-gross out moments or the lack of symmetry from both sexes originally getting their share of the pie to shifting the focus to just the boys. I see the series as similar to the relationships in our own lives. We likely lose touch with people we knew from high school and college and usually end up sticking to the ones we like the most. Jim, Stifler, Finch and Michelle are those chosen few and the trilogy closes on such a perfectly natural moment (before an unnecessary final laugh) summing up the key bonds of the characters that I almost shed a tear. No laughing audience participation could bring that about. All they can do is potentially drown out the next joke, which chances are I would have laughed at. And hard.

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originally posted: 08/01/03 15:02:41
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell funny finale 4 stars
3/25/10 Dane Youssef Aworthy finale. Great to see they found a way to make it all end on the best possible note. 5 stars
1/27/09 wes realy funny and cool 5 stars
8/03/08 Tyler THE BEST OF THE BUNCH! AWESOME FILM! 5 stars
10/18/07 Beau this is an average sequel to the previous ones, not the best but had moments 'FOCUS FOCUS' 3 stars
4/02/07 fools♫gold The high point of the trilogy (the three that matter). 4 stars
10/30/06 AJ Muller "Fucking right, doggie - that's a good flick!" So sayeth Stifler; so shall it be. 4 stars
3/12/06 JM Synth They're not even trying anymore 1 stars
9/27/05 Daveman A waste of everyone's time. Hardly watchable. 1 stars
8/25/05 Eden I really enjoyed the first two but this is crap. Would never watch it again 1 stars
7/23/05 Clubber Lang It is what it is, and it's very funny. Second best of the series, after 2. 4 stars
4/10/05 Cheryl Mayfield Probably tops first two, even if Stiffler has to stuff dog shit in his mouth to do it. 4 stars
1/19/05 Charlène I saw this film and I think it was unapologetically witty and gleeful 5 stars
11/18/04 Chris Belldo I've taken funnier shits. Imagine American Pie ass-raped w/out lube or a reach-around. 1 stars
10/25/04 hudson wow! 5 stars
10/23/04 ODH Stifler steals the show, very funny 4 stars
9/10/04 jeff pretty funny for a teen movie. 4 stars
9/04/04 Ghetto Smurf Jason Biggs' acting got better while everyone else's got worse. Still, good movie. 4 stars
8/03/04 Anthony G fuck this 1 stars
7/23/04 Samuel As good as the first two, if not better. 5 stars
7/21/04 Littlepurch Won't be liked by all but I loved it. Some real cringingly hilarious moments! 4 stars
7/08/04 Denise Duspiva No where near as good as the first two 3 stars
7/03/04 J HILARLIOUS!!! Stiffler is funny but a mental a**Hole!!! 5 stars
5/26/04 Daveman Fucking shit. The worst film I saw in 2003. 1 stars
4/26/04 eve dont take it 2 seriously! how old r u anyway? 5 stars
4/12/04 cinkcool awesome 5 stars
1/08/04 KICK ASS OR DONT COME HOME! practically the whole movie was on stifler and jim and michelle were barely in it,still fun 4 stars
1/03/04 Gray needed Chick for finch other than MILF 4 stars
1/03/04 A F They were trying a little too hard. Stiffler is getting a little played out. 4 stars
11/14/03 orangefactory Best among the American Pie series! 5 stars
11/10/03 Long River surprisingly dumb 1 stars
10/31/03 Natasha Bly Awesome if they do part 4 to pair Finch with someone better than S's mom; average otherwise 4 stars
10/31/03 Barry End of fuckin story? Character most like me stuck with Stiffler's mom? Gross!!! Bogus!!! 3 stars
10/22/03 Cheryl Mayfield Probably tops first two, even if Stiffler has to stuff dog shit in his mouth to do it. 4 stars
10/10/03 I've Got Worms The movie didn't show entirely what I wanted to see Lezys 3 stars
9/10/03 snowconehead falls somewhere between heh and meh. 4 stars
9/01/03 Jimmy James too forced, too unfunny. and i wanted to like it :( 2 stars
9/01/03 hando surprisingly funny! 4 stars
8/31/03 Marc The best movie ever 5 stars
8/25/03 Jimmeh Johnez HBS used to not suck. Now popups and BS all the time. 3 stars
8/24/03 I Would In the grand tradition of American Pie films, it's formulaic, it's dumb and it's not funny. 1 stars
8/21/03 Jack Bourbon Stifler is my hero 4 stars
8/18/03 Koitus Agree, that it has 5-6 scenes that are GREAT! Nikki Ziering topless also helps! :-) 4 stars
8/17/03 Lord Chu Hilarious and, incredible as it seems, just as sweet and heartfelt. 5 stars
8/16/03 Croweater I really liked it, it was sooooo funny ;-) 4 stars
8/16/03 Roundman Terrible. So far over the top that it didn't even seem to be an American Pie movie. 1 stars
8/14/03 mcw more zany than ever 4 stars
8/12/03 LoudChris 2nd best movie of the year! 5 stars
8/10/03 Ahnold Sucked. Series of lame gag-situations and gross-out scenes. Horrible. 1 stars
8/08/03 j lo jiggle that ass 1 stars
8/08/03 LoLo This is BY FAR the best out of the American trilogy! I laughed so hard I was almost crying! 5 stars
8/08/03 Winternight I laughed my ass off. 5 stars
8/08/03 JJ from da block Another freakin teeny bopper flick...I'd almost rather watch JLo's jigglin ass in jigli 1 stars
8/06/03 Frank Riccilli BULL DYKES FOR LIFE 5 stars
8/05/03 Bam Margera Laugh Out Loud. 'Nuff Said. Stifler indeed stole the show yet again. 5 stars
8/05/03 Desperado A great ending to a perfect trilogy 5 stars
8/05/03 I FUCK PIE NeVeR Say LALLA! 1 stars
8/05/03 Tyler Funny 4 stars
8/04/03 FrayLo actually entertaining, i expected less, got more. 4 stars
8/04/03 Joman fucking awsome 5 stars
8/04/03 Nicole Pretty funny, though starting to get a bit old 4 stars
8/02/03 Jason Kallelis Huh. Actually pretty damn good. Was surprised. 4 stars
8/02/03 Doug Totally lost the 'feel' of the first one, but still good 4 stars
8/02/03 bob mckenzie a worthy conclusion to a funny trilogy 4 stars
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  01-Aug-2003 (R)
  DVD: 02-Jan-2004



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