With American Pie 2 scoring another big box office return, a third installment was somewhat inevitable and arrived after another two year gap in 2003. Also somewhat inevitably, American Pie: The Wedding continued the slide in quality between 1 and 2 and proved to be the end of the main franchise. Some ill advised spin offs starring none of the main cast followed this one but were all straight to video disasters which should be struck from the record.
American Pie: The Wedding follows the same characters from previous instalments and with college now complete, the next step for the now familiar American Pie crew is into the real world via Jim and Michelle’s pending nuptials. Once again the film starts superbly with a set piece involving Jim and his dad and another embarrassing sexual disaster. It’s nice to know that we are in familiar territory at least.
Once Jim has popped the question they all agree not to invite Stifler to the wedding which of course means that he immediately gets wind of it and invites himself via flimsy offer of teaching Jim to dance which, strangely, he seemingly cannot refuse. The first half of the film then follows the pre-wedding arrangements and bachelor party which lead to the usual shenanigans unfolding. You would think that this would be an easy way to segue into all sorts of funny set pieces but somehow it does not quite turn out that way. A gay club dance off is not as funny as it should be and the bachelor party involving strippers and, inadvertently, Michelle’s parents starts well but ends pretty terribly and everything feels like a wasted opportunity.
One of the major problems with American Pie: The Wedding compared to the other two films is that Stifler’s character has become far too obnoxious and is almost a caricature of his former self. He now distracts more than he entertains in a role that Seann William Scott has clearly been told to ham up in this latest reprisal. Another major gripe is that the set ups which were once hilarious and cringeworthy now tend to degenerate into farce and often drag on too long to the point where the laughter has ended and it is all a bit uncomfortable but for the wrong reasons.
The comedic highlights include the ongoing battle between Stifler and Finch to seduce Michelle’s younger sister by taking on opposite personas, and Jim’s dad is once again on form as the bumbling font of both embarrassment and knowledge. However none of this can offset the overall feeling that this is not in the same mould as the first two films which were as charming as they were funny.
The utterly redundant character of Kevin is for some unknown reason given a third outing in American Pie: The Wedding but Oz is wisely written out, as are some of the other major supporting roles such as Vicky and Nadia. Enjoyable cameos from the MILF guys and Stifler’s mum are still there but they do not manage to save this slice of the pie from being a run of the mill gross out comedy that as a standalone film is mostly just not very good.
One thing American Pie: The Wedding does possibly have is the best two lines of dialogue of the whole franchise shared at the alter by Stifler and Finch during the climactic wedding scenes. Arguing as ever, Stifler says to Finch – “You’re a motherf*cker” to which he smugly replies “Yes I am”. Comedy gold.