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Friday, 27 April 2012

AMERICAN PIE: THE WEDDING

"Love isn't just a feeling. It's shaving your balls!"
-Michelle.

It's the easiest thing in the world to pick apart the sequels and moan about the problems. But at the end of 'American Wedding', which was meant to be the last in the franchise, you can't help but feel it's been a journey worth being invested in. As Michelle and Jim dance their first dance, to Van Morrison's 'Into the Mystic', it dawns on you that you care a lot about these people.




They cleared out the dead wood. Oz, Heather and Vicky were pointless in the second movie, so it made sense that they were missing from this one. In truth, Kevin was equally redundant in the third instalment, he was just there to keep the numbers up. Stifler was supercharged. His actions seemed to border on mental illness at times. He was a caricature of who he was in the earlier movies. Was he funny or not? It's hard to say. Some moments seem to go overboard, and others are classic Stifmeister. 

I always disliked the scenes with the strippers at Jim's house. But looking at it again, even though it just seemed like a pointless excuse to get some breasts on show, it did actually serve a purpose, setting up the return of Jim with Michelle's parents. Hilarity ensued.


Michelle is a hilarious character, and Allison Hannigan deserves great recognition for her creation. She's insane, but she's got real heart. 
January Jones, as Cadence, was a welcome addition, although the Finch/Stifler storyline seemed weaker than I remember previously. They build up this great battle between the two guys, over Cadence, and then at the end, Finch just seems to drift away and then settles for Stifler's Mom (again). It seems lazy, somehow. The Stifler's Mom joke is old, finished. But I guess people expected it. 

The 'American Pie' films always stretched believability. The trick is making it believable in the MOMENT.  In 'American Pie 2', it was ridiculous to make us believe that Stifler would mistake the MILF Guy's pee for champagne. But it worked! Just like the beer gag in the first film. But Stifler eating dog shit? It's a stretch! You feel like he could have just been honest, and said "Hey, it's dog shit!". And the insistence of Michelle's parents, demanding a 'nibble', just seems highly unlikely.


That's the difference between great comedy and average comedy. How well the ridiculous can be made believable.


--------- Have you noticed how my tone is different in this article to the others? I'm not as enthusiastic. I guess that's my sequel cynicism coming out that I mentioned in my first American Pie post. Also, when I wrote about 'American Pie' I said that the 6.9 on the IMDB scale was a false low, but with 'American Pie: The Wedding', I feel like 6.1 is exactly right. 


We love the characters. And there are moments in 'Wedding' where we go with them. But a lot of this film, it just doesn't work, it's not funny. I want to love every second of it, really; I do, but it's hard! Stifler is a bit too off the charts crazy, and Finch's story progressively weakens, and Kevin just seems to be hanging around pointlessly. It's frustrating to watch. 


The first slice of pie came in 1999. The third film was released in 2003. That's a lot of material, based on the same characters, to force out of one writer. So I don't blame Adam Herz. I love his writing, his characters, and I hope to see more from him. In an interview with ign.com after the film's release in 2003, Herz said
"There won't be another one. Simply because I don't have any stories left to tell about these guys... When you do any story, you want some characters to take an emotional journey... And look, with American Wedding, when Stifler has learned something, there's nobody left to learn... I can't do it. That would bother me, if they did another movie."

You get the feeling that, in truth, there wasn't enough material to fill out the whole of the third installment. Despite all this, I like it. And as I said at the beginning of the article -- when you see the friends on the dance floor at the end; the imperfectness of the sequels fall away and we are left with a warm feeling of getting to know these wonderful characters and their hilarious situations.


It was wrapped up nicely. The Wedding, what a perfect way to end it. 


But wait, there's more? Funny how time changes your perspective on things. When they announced 'American Reunion', I didn't feel any
sequel cynicism at all. I was just plain excited. And THAT'S what's important. These characters resonated with me, they meant something; and the fact they would return after so many years was exciting to me. 

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