By Alan Cho
Watching American Wedding is akin to watching someone get hit in the groin. It’s a peculiar mixture of guilt and laughter that bubbles up while watching a person writhe on the ground in excruciating pain. No complex layers arise every time someone is struck in the groin, no epiphany. Only an elusive hilarity that dissipates into the humid summer day and forgotten by dinner. American Wedding is that kind of movie.
After finishing high school and graduating from a suspiciously vague college, the American Pie gang has grown up. To celebrate this momentous occasion in teen comedy history, Jim Levinstein (Jason Biggs) and Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan) are to be wed. Wacky hijinks and disasters of the comedy variety ensue as preparations for the wedding are made. And, by the time the happy couple has their first dance, everyone gets their happy ending. What more do you want from the third installment in the American Pie franchise? It fits snuggly into the formula established by the first American Pie movie, contently warming over the same beats, but introducing brand spankin’ new gags in place of the crusty old ones. Adam Herz’s perfunctory script does nothing more than push its players into their appropriate positions for the gags to occur. This movie should be a failure and yet I laughed. I’ll admit, I laughed a lot.
Credit partially belongs to director Jesse Dylan (How High) for striking a balance between crude gags and odorous sentimentally, perfectly encapsulated in the beginning of the movie during a blowjob that turns into an awkward proposal. Jesse Dylan knows how to work the audience, the movie zipping along at a reasonable pace and letting the gags breathe without overstaying their welcome. Props have to be given to the great performances in the face of underdeveloped and shallow characters. Seann William Scott imbues his character Stifler, with a manic vigor on full display during a dance off in a gay bar. Eugene Levy and his eyebrows shine as the unflappable father of the groom.
It’s too bad the rest of the actors aren’t given much to do but react and look bemused, amused or abused. They perform their parts in their respected gags and quickly disappear. Fred Willard is wasted as Michelle’s father and the female characters seem to only exist to lend the plot momentum. Among all the pubic shaving and the dog raping, the movie forgets this is Michelle’s wedding too. She pops up to remind the audience she’s Jim’s bride and not Stifler’s; Michelle’s sister Cadence (January Jones) is nothing more than the prize in a rivalry between Finch and Stifler; and all the mothers in the movie are virtually non-existent, as if beaten beforehand and told to stay mute in the background. However, considering the humble beginnings of this franchise (a guy sticking his penis into an apple pie), criticizing the movie for its thin character and plot is a bit futile.
The studio seems content to continually churn out these sequels, until Jason Biggs’ crotch is reduced to an eternally flaccid piece of scar tissue. American Wedding hasn’t even opened in theatres, but talks are already underway for a fourth American Pie movie, tentatively called American Baby. When the franchise has been milked for all it’s worth, what will be left for Jason Biggs and his crotch?
You can already imagine an unemployed, geriatric Biggs shoving his overworked penis into the whirling blades of an electric fan. “Look at me! I still got it, I still got it!” he’ll exclaim before sinking into unconsciousness in a pool of his own blood. In the meantime, American Wedding provides plenty of shallow laughs. In a summer filled with over-hyped lame sequels and painfully unfunny comedies, this knock to the groin is a pleasant and refreshing relief.