Review: ‘American Wedding’

The gang from American Pie is back for thirds, this time for the really important things in life: first impressions, bachelor parties, and sleeping with your friend?€™s relatives.

After graduating college, Jim Levinstein (Jason Biggs) has sworn off pies and popped the question to Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan), to which she gratefully answers yes. The wedding plans go forward with Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) helping out, but not with Stifler (Seann William Scott), who has since fallen out of favor with the group. Unfortunately, Stifler takes his omission personally and plots to get himself back into the wedding, especially for a shot at Michelle’€™s little sister, Cadence (January Jones), who’€™s equally on the prowl herself but has also caught Finch’€™s eye.

The original American Pie was the product of a 24-hour brainstorm session and a clever marketing scheme to get the script made into a film; it was honest, funny, and hip for its time. The sequel, however, grew heavy-handed, tedious, and by the numbers, so there weren’€™t many who expected a trilogy or even wanted one. Amazingly, American Wedding has the feel of the first film, bringing back the fun and one last romp to see where all the characters have wound up.

Now a bigger star with several films both behind and ahead of him, Seann William Scott practically steals the show again with his over-the-top libido and rules-be-damned attitude, but finds himself challenged by Eddie Kaye Thomas?€™ Finch with a beefier role as they compete for Michelle?€™s sister. The rivalry nearly eclipses the wedding entirely, forcing other characters, like Thomas Ian Nicholas?€™ Kevin, into the background. The result is a much more surprising and hilarious film because you genuinely don’€™t know what?€™s going to happen next, and when you do, it’€™s crazier than you imagined.

At the same time, the film has found the heart that the sequel American Pie 2 tried to force on everyone and failed at; the filmmakers have learned their lesson and let things work out in good time. The speeches are shorter (and more pointless), with only the seed of deeper meaning showing before something going horribly and hilariously wrong again. It isn’€™t very often such a story or even this subject matter gets treated with enough respect to be successful, so enjoy the cinematic conclusion of what happens when sexually active teens get to grow up instead of being killed off at summer camp by a maniac slasher.

(a three skull recommendation out of four)

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