So here we are at the end of the trilogy, but apparently not the story, as American Reunion is coming out in a few months. After American Pie 2 also turned out to be a mega-hit, a sequel was inevitable. Plus, since Jim has had his revelation about going with the band geek instead of his fantasy woman, I guess there were people asking “Well, what happened next?”. True, these are probably the same kind of people who ask where the light goes when you shut the fridge door, but still, I guess there was a public demand.
American Pie: The Wedding focuses on the upcoming nuptials of Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). Also along for the ride are the usual suspects of Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Stifler (Seann William-Scott), with the mysterious absence of Chris Klein’s Oz never mentioned. In preparation for the wedding, Michelle flies in her younger sister Cadence (January Jones) who starts a bitter competition for her affections between Finch and Stifler. What got to me about this film was how by-the-numbers and predictable it all was. We have some of the series’ trademark bawdiness, but it all seems ridiculously forced and inorganic because these people aren’t in high school or college any more.
The huge problem I have with this flick is the fact that certain characters have been turned up to 11 and any subtlety has been completely abandoned. This is exemplified with Stifler, who has gone from typical vulgar jock in the first film to a goddamn cartoon character in this one. I find this often happens in sequels (and especially comedy sequels) where certain traits are now expected of a fan-favourite character, so when it comes down to hammering out a sequel, those traits are now paramount and the character is written with them in mind. So instead of the character Steve Stifler being written as a charmless, meatheaded jock who happens to swear because it makes sense for his character to do so, the audience expectations dictate that he’s now written as “the foul-mouthed Steve Stifler who everybody hates”. This isn’t the same thing. For an example of this, see films like the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and compare the genuinely witty dialogue Jack Sparrow has in Curse of the Black Pearl to the forced unfunny gurglings he has in the following films. Or, to get back on topic, see this film, where nearly everything Stifler says contains the F word and he’s gone from an egotistical, but still somehow likeable douche to just a plain douche with very few redeeming qualities. It’s doubly a pity because Stifler is meant to have a bit of a redemption in this one and instead of coming across as charming, it comes across like an awkward, saccharine emotional 180 that doesn’t make any sense.
All of this could be forgiven if the film was actually funny, which it isn’t. True to formula, there’s a Stifler gross-out moment (OMG he ate some dog poo!!1 ROFL) but the film makes the mistake of having most of the stuff happen to Stifler, including an excruciatingly unfunny bit where he sexes up a wheelchair-bound grandmother in a case of mistaken identity. There’s a bachelor party mid way through that is completely devoid of laughs and somehow just makes the nudity in it seem more token than anything else. The film also has a cringe-worthy dance off scene in a gay bar, which would have been original if I hadn’t seen any other Hollywood comedies ever.
American Pie: The Wedding does what the series always threatened to do, which is turn into a vulgar, unfunny film for idiots. Gone are the character subtleties, gone are the neat little insights and gone are the likeable characters (apart from Jim’s dad, who walks away relatively unscathed). It’s not the worst film in the world and there are a few things to enjoy about it, but The Wedding is just another dumb comedy with its mind fixed purely on playing to the cheap seats. It’s a pity because the series pretty much started off as the antithesis of that. Here’s hoping Reunion goes back to the spirit of the original.