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American Wedding (A Movie Review)

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

American Wedding

American Wedding


Starring Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eugene Levy, Seann William Scott, Eddie Kaye Thomas, January Jones, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Fred Willard, Deborah Rush, Tim Allen, Molly Cheek, Nikki Schieler Ziering, Amanda Swisten, Eric Allen Kramer, Lawrence Pressman, Angela Paton and Jennifer Coolidge.

Screenplay by Adam Herz.

Directed by Jesse Dylan.

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  96 minutes.  Rated R.

There aren’t many movies that seemed more unnecessary than American Wedding. The original American Pie movie was very good, but the first sequel showed diminishing returns that were not likely to be reversed. 

You could tell chances were bad just looking at the poster, about half of the regular cast from the previous films (Chris Klein, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Shannon Elizabeth and Natasha Lyonne) had jumped ship on this installment. 

To make it worse, they made it a wedding film, hooking up two nerdy characters from the previous installments to get married, well, honestly just as an excuse to get this movie off the ground. After all, Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are probably the two characters in recent cinema history least likely to ever get married… to anyone.

Another change you pick up on in the poster is that the character of Stifler (Seann William Scott) has been promoted from a sexist minor supporting character to the main reason for this film. This is a good thing, because Stifler is a very funny character, an unhinged force of nature and id… the type of truly tactless party boy that most people have somewhere in their background, getting you into trouble but always good for a laugh. 

Of course, this sort of overshadows Jim’s old friends; Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) does get into an amusing contest with Stifler to win over Michelle’s sister (January Jones), but Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is given nothing to do here except for give Jim the occasional pep talk.

Michelle’s parents (Fred Willard and Deborah Rush) and pretty sister fly into town for the wedding (wait a second, didn’t Jim and Michelle meet when they were going to the same high school? What is her family doing living in a different city and acting like they’ve never been in the area before or met any of these people?) 

Willard adds surprisingly little here, he’s a brilliant comedian stranded without a role. Luckily Eugene Levy as Jim’s dad is still a wonderful comic force.  His sincerity and refusal to be flustered makes his reactions to the havoc his son creates priceless no matter how many times he does them.

The storylines are entirely predictable; Jim makes a fool out of himself when asking Michelle to marry him, Jim makes a fool out of himself when meeting her parents for the first time, Jim and the guys don’t realize they are in a gay bar, Jim tries to have a quiet dinner conversation with his in-laws at the same time as his buddies throw him a surprise bachelor party, the actual wedding is preceded by disasters that destroy the flowers and the wedding cake. 

There are graphic jokes about pubic hair, dog doo and sex with grandmothers. The movie ends the same way all three films have; Finch hooks up with Stifler’s mom. Funny the first movie, boring now…

The direction is kind of ham-handedly handled by Jesse Dylan… yes the son of rock icon Bob. Jesse may not have picked up on dad’s brilliance in music, but with this film and dad’s current cinematic stinker Masked & Anonymous, you can tell Bob taught Jesse everything he knows about film.

Yet, for all of the problems in this movie, I have to admit I laughed more often than I would have imagined… although I’m not sure if the laugh was because the jokes were funny or just out of shock because the filmmakers had the audacity to actually do this stuff. American Wedding is stupid, but sometimes it’s undeniably funny.  Still, it’s time to retire the franchise. (8/03)

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2003 All rights reserved. Posted: August 3, 2003.

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