Friday, Aug. 1
Having already twice proved that it's possible to make a top-grossing, gross-out picture that even chicks can dig, most of the original "American Pie" gang has returned for a third helping with the tellingly titled "American Wedding".
But while the threatened final installment, or rather "the thrilling climax," of the "Pie" saga serves up the same mix of shock comedy and lovable characters, the familiar formula feels significantly watered-down the third time around.
Too often, screenwriter Adam Herz
's plotting seems to exist solely to set up one of those custom naughty sight gags rather than to advance any semblance of story.
Of course, that probably won't bother audiences, who'll still likely feel like they got what they came for, but even with the word "Wedding" ensuring a substantial female turnout, the total take might not reach the pie-in-the-sky heights of the two predecessors.
It seems like it was just yesterday when Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs
) was getting acquainted with hot baked goods, but band camp feels like a distant memory for Jim and his flute-playing fiancee Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan
) as they make plans for their upcoming nuptials.
As if they don't have enough on their plate, despite getting assistance from Jim's unflappable dad (Eugene Levy
) and mom (Molly Cheek
) and Michelle's folks (Fred Willard
and Deborah Rush
), the arrival of Michelle's gorgeous sister, Cadence (January Jones) has been duly noticed by Jim's cerebral buddy Finch Eddie Kaye Thomas
) and the indefatigable Stifler (Seann William Scott).
Determined to pull out all stops necessary to put the make on the maid of honor, Stifler manages to charm his way into the wedding party, much to the horror of Jim and Michelle, who have a right to be concerned.
While "American Wedding" might once again be focusing on the trials and humiliations of Biggs' nice guy Jim, this is Scott's movie all the way. Whether he's tearing up the dance floor in a gay bar on '80s Night, getting freaky with Jim's grandma or trying to coax a dog to part with an accidentally consumed wedding ring (better not to ask), the gonzo Stifler, with his John Belushi
bursts of energy and his trouble-making Jack Nicholson
grin, is up to any challenge that comes his way.
But even his contribution, as well as those of Christopher Guest
regulars Levy, Willard and Jennifer Coolidge
-- who makes a final, all-too-brief appearance as Stifler's mom -- only go so far in adding a little zip to the bland proceedings.
With original directors Paul and Chris Weitz
having successfully moved on to more mature fare like "About a Boy", the reins have been passed from "American Pie 2" helmer James B. Rogers to Jesse Dylan
, who proved he knew his way around a visual gag with his first feature, "How High".
Dylan can push through an effective gross-out scene with the best of them, but when it comes to pulling off that patented "American Pie" blend of the raucous and the sweetly innocuous, he lacks the Weitz brothers' seamlessly shifting light touch.
As is fitting for the genre, production values are bright and zippy, while executive music producer Kathy Nelson
has assembled several albums' worth of ideally attuned tunes ranging from newer stuff by the All-American Rejects ("Swing Swing") and Joseph Arthur (the plaintive "Honey and the Moon") and older stuff, including a cover of Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic", performed by Jesse's brother Jakob's band, the Wallflowers.
Universal Pictures presents
A Zide/Perry-LivePlanet production
Director: Jesse Dylan
Screenwriter: Adam Herz
Producers: Warren Zide
, Craig Perry
, Chris Moore, Adam Herz
, Chris Bender
Executive producers: Paul Weitz
, Chris Weitz
, Louis G. Friedman
Director of photography: Lloyd Ahern
Production designer: Clayton Hartley
Editor: Stuart Pappe
Costume designer: Pamela Withers Chilton
Music: Christophe Beck;
CQ Executive music producer: Kathy Nelson
Casting: Lisa Beach
, Sarah Katzman
Jim: Jason Biggs
Michelle: Alyson Hannigan
Cadence: January Jones
Kevin: Thomas Ian Nicholas
Steve Stifler: Seann William Scott
Finch: Eddie Kaye Thomas
Harold: Fred Willard
Jim's Dad: Eugene Levy
Mary: Deborah Rush
Running time -- 95 minutes
MPAA rating: R