Oh, but I have put off writing this review for a while! Could it be that I am embarrassed to have liked this flick?
If you caught the previous two films under the American Pie emblem, you know that Jim and his friends are all typical sex-obsessed youth whose lives somehow revolve perpetually around things both sexual and gross-out disgusting (though not necessarily at the same time). In this supposedly final episode, Jim proposes to his band-geek girlfriend Michelle, and not surprisingly the rest of the film explores awkward, sexual, and gross-out situations that arise on the way to the wedding. What is surprising is how they sneak in some emotional sophistication and meaning - yeah, you can kind of see it coming, but it actually works in a strange balance of vulgarity and soft-heartedness.
American Wedding, in a way, is like the sitcom that has finally found itself. Early on, you try to establish character while still being funny, but it's a lot of work, then you shed characters and concentrate on what the audience seems to respond to - and hopefully at this time, the audience is still there. Then somewhere two or three seasons in, things really start to click. The tension between the characters becomes a real driving force, and we get to experience something real rather than manufactured. Not every sitcom gets there, but it's what they're all (or should all be) hoping for.
Not that the transition has been perfect. The absence of certain characters is noticable. And in one case - alas, poor Kevin - the presence of the character is problematic His was one of the original main plots in the original American Pie (the one paired up with Tara Reid). Now, unable to break out in anything outside the series - and thus, one of the few peripheral actors still affordable in a merely supporting role - and on top of that, the character has been written into a horribly useless nice guy corner - he virtually has nothing to say. I actually was counting and found only twice did I hear something from his lips that existed for character, not for a joke. They could have done something more with him, but as the movie played to the strengths of the series, anything too cerebral, too internal, was bound to lose out.
I could go on about the things that are just plain wrong about this film (and yes, plenty of them are on purpose), but the key is that almost all of them are the same reasons why the film works. It's rare for something so light to be so capable of touching you and revolting you at the same time.
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