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'American Wedding'

'Wedding' takes a raunchy vow

Friday, August 01, 2003

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

In the real world, brides-to-be often grouse about losing control of their wedding plans to their mothers. In the reel world of "American Wedding," it's one of the groomsmen who steals the movie with face time and an unprecedented number of raunchy words and gestures.

 
 
'American Wedding'

RATING: R for sexual content, language and crude humor

STARRING: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott

DIRECTOR: Jesse Dylan

   
 

In the third installment of "American Pie," Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) delivers the f-word as if it were loaded into a rapid-fire rifle and he had his finger on the trigger. Almost all the time.

And in a scene that seems to trump anything in the "Dumb and Dumber" comedies, he must pretend that a pastry paper is cradling a chocolate truffle, not the dog excrement it really holds, and then (major gag alert) shovel the contents into his mouth. And chew and smile.

Yes, the gross-out quotient seems to have been upped for the final installment of the series made famous by pie abuse. "American Wedding" opens with Jim (Jason Biggs) asking girlfriend and former band-camp regular Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) to marry him. Of course the proposal must involve improper restaurant behavior and the ill-timed appearance of Jim's dad (Eugene Levy), who adds a layer of well-meaning but often clueless sweetness to any scene.

"American Wedding" takes the milestones of wedding preparations such as the proposal, engagement party and pre-wedding jitters and shellacs them with lewd language, misunderstood poses and all-around inappropriate behavior. And a preview audience seemed to love it, especially the young men who are the obvious targets for such elements as the bosomy strippers who happily shed their blouses at the bachelor party gone awry.

The story, such as it is, consists of Jim trying to win the approval of Michelle's parents after an unfortunate introduction, Jim trying to make sure Michelle has the wedding of her dreams and the totally out-of-control Stifler attempting to score an invitation to the wedding, especially once he meets Michelle's sister Cadence (January Jones). That puts him at further odds with Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) who also has eyes for Cadence.

"American Wedding" becomes, in quick order, "The Stifler Show" as Scott repeatedly flashes a satanic smile that matches his demonic, out-of-control or out-of-character behavior. Biggs and Hannigan seem as if they've been relegated to supporting players, and there's not nearly enough leavening by Levy. Molly Cheek returns as Jim's mother, and Fred Willard and Deborah Rush appear as Michelle's parents.

Adam Herz, who created the characters, has written not so much a coherent screenplay as a series of sketches that builds to an alternately touching and outrageous ending, and Jesse Dylan follows up his "How High" directorial debut with this song-heavy sequel.

You can see some of their gags coming from a mile away; that enables you to cringe as you brace for another I-can't-believe-they-did-that moment. And there are many, some funny and some just disgusting. Still, these characters have grown on the audience and it's impossible not to root for them and hope that the ceremony, at least, goes off without something truly embarrassing.


Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.

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