American Pie: The Wedding

WFTB Score: 6/20

The plot: After three years of courtship, Michelle accepts Jim’s marriage proposal, but the happy event is beset with questions: Will Michelle’s parents like Jim? Will Jim’s grandma accept Michelle? Will Michelle’s sister Cadence fancy Finch? And, most of all, how to solve a problem like Steve Stifler?

It started as a one-night fling, then was a honeytrap which turned into a real relationship. Now it’s official: Jim (Jason Biggs) loves Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), and wanting all the world to know he pops the question. Michelle instantly says yes, delighting Jim’s parents (Eugene Levy and Molly Cheek) and his long-time friends Finch and Kevin (Eddie Kaye Thomas and Thomas Ian Nicholas). However, the path to the perfect wedding is an assuredly bumpy one, especially when jock-turned-PT-coach Stifler (Seann William Scott) learns of the happy day and unhappily learns that he’s not on the guest list. Determined to make himself indispensable, Stifler teaches Jim to dance and, through his fleet feet and dumb luck, bests Bear (Eric Allan Kramer) in a Chicago gay club, winning Michelle the dress of her dreams. He also puts on a show of civility to Michelle’s parents (Deborah Rush and Fred Willard), earning their admiration and some interest from their other daughter Cadence (January Jones) – though Finch has his own designs on her and tries to win her affections by out-manoeuvring the Stifmeister. While Stifler earns a few credits with Jim, he also racks up the debits, organising a rowdy bachelor party without the bachelor, feeding the wedding ring to the Flahertys’ dog, doing unspeakable things with Jim’s curmudgeonly Nan and destroying the beautiful wedding-day flowers – though the ruination of the cake is all Jim’s work. It seems that with the help of his ‘friends’, the biggest day of Jim’s life is going to turn out like most of the others – painfully embarrassing.

I’ve not written a film script (yet) so I don’t rightly know how it’s done; however, I can only imagine that Adam Herz decided that the third entry in the American Pie series would see Jim and Michelle get married, got to about twenty-five minutes’ worth of material, and became horribly stuck. For the film is not so much the story of the wedding as a confetti of disparate bits and pieces tossed in the air, Jesse Dylan not skilled enough to keep a thread going through Jim’s efforts to live up to the Flaherty family’s expectations, Michelle’s doubts, Cadence’s decision about the most suitable suitor, and – most importantly, somehow – whether Steve Stifler gets to go to the wedding or not. Obviously, Stifler’s an asshole; on the other hand, he can dance; that said, he does dreadful things; although he can feign being cultured; but at the end of the day, he’s an irredeemable, sex-mad screw-up. Or can he come good when it really matters? Seann William Scott is absolutely central to the film, and fortunately – amazed though I am to say it – he’s also the best thing in the movie. This is partly by default, because most of the other roles are so diminished that they barely get a look-in – Oz, missing, isn’t even name-checked, and Kevin (who just about makes it into the film) doesn’t fare much better, not getting any sort of pay-off at the wedding. But it’s also partly because the plot, such as it is, demands that he exhibits something approaching range. Sure, he’s still the filthy, sweary, aggressive idiot that we grew to despise from the first two movies; but his personality swap with ‘the Finchmeister’ in an effort to impress Cadence is funny, as is (bizarrely) his gay-off with Kramer’s amusing Bear. Much about American Pie: The Wedding is drearily predictable and, plotwise, utterly unbelievable (I like your friend’s dance, therefore I will make your wife’s wedding dress); when it isn’t, it’s nearly always Stifler we have to thank – if that’s the word.

But believe me, drearily predictable is the dominant phrase here. There’s a whiff of desperation about the escalation of the gross-out humour, for example the poo-eating or the MILF being upstaged by the Granny you wouldn’t like to…well, you know. Most of all, the bachelor party is a dismal expansion on the lesbians of American Pie 2, a topless parade featuring two plastic women with immobile breasts and no comic ability, which goes on far too long (on the “unrated” DVD, at any rate) and turns into low, frantic farce when Jim comes home with the Flahertys. Speaking of Jim, he’s reduced to being the one whose trousers always end up round his ankles, while Hannigan’s Michelle has little opportunity to stretch her comic gifts as the worrisome bride and January Jones has a thankless task pretending to be attracted to anyone. Levy and sometime Chris Guest cohort Fred Willard do their best, and Jennifer Coolidge makes her mandatory late appearance, but their lines are sorely lacking in jokes – if only they’d been allowed to write their own.

The very best thing I can say about American Pie: The Wedding is that it’s no worse than American Pie 2. It just about retains enough good-feeling from the original for the wedding, especially the first dance, to come off as sincere, and you’re glad that Jim and Michelle get a happy ever after. As for the rest, the movie doesn’t seem to care much, which invites the viewer to be equally disinterested. Worth watching for completists and diehard Stifler fans (if such creatures exist), though the thought of the four straight-to-video spin-offs, and moreover the existence of a Reunion, is almost too depressing for words.

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