The American Pie series of films made a metric pantload of money, with each film crossing the $100 million mark, and the cast returning for a fourth film that is about to be released as of this writing. The series started with four high schoolers looking to get laid in the vein of the Porky's films two decades prior, and each installment shows the quartet and their friends as they attempt to grow up and maintain the same level of sexual inadequacy.
This film was written by Adam Herz, who wrote the first two films and after this, has written the four(!) direct to video installments the franchise has seen since then, and Jesse Dylan (How High) directed. The series' cast (with the exceptions and/or protest of Chris Klein, Mena Suvari, Jennifer Coolidge and Shannen Elizabeth) all returned for the third film, which finds the group just graduating college. Since hooking up in the first film, Jim (Jason Biggs, My Best Friend's Girl) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan, How I Met Your Mother) have being each other and Jim proposes to her in the beginning of this film, getting the backdrop question out of the way early. So as the wedding gets closer, both kids start to get their own apprehensions of varying degrees, while Jim's friends Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas) and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nichols, Rookie of the Year) are told to keep Stifler (Seann William Scott, Cop Out) away from the wedding. This is hard to prevent both because Stifler is a weasel and he carries most of the jokes in the movie, and he is giving a conflict of sorts when he and Finch both vie for the attentions of Michelle's sister, played in the film by a young January Jones (Mad Men). Will the wedding happen? What kind of hijinks will the boys get into? And perhaps more importantly, what kind of genital-related humor can Biggs give the world this time that makes the audience both laugh and feel sorry for him?
I can safely say that of all of American Pie films that Wedding probably has not aged as well as the two films before it. It is certainly not due to the other cast absences hurting the film, as frankly Klein and Suvari did little in the way of memorable events to really bemoan about them not being in this one. Moreover, their inclusion in Wedding would be redundant, as the growing up of Jim and Michelle contrasted against the perpetual childishness of Stifler are the only things that keep things moving forward. One half of the film is trying to act semi-serious while accidentally disposing of shorn pubic hair on his wedding cake, and another in Seann William Scott. It is safe to say there are no winners in this race.
However, I think there may have been a certain sense of obliviousness to the script that allows Scott to go full bore into the character and what he does with an abandon that has fleeting moments of humor. He outperforms both Thomas and Nichols, the latter of who provides less to this feature than Klein. It is almost as if Herz must have forgotten to write the film for all of the characters involved or something. As for the engaged couple, they get close to moments of genuine emotion, but also alternate between a laugh or two and an 'oh, Stifler!' scene during the events. Biggs subjects himself to the above-mentioned joke, but he and Hannigan look and feel out of place for this next stage of life, and this awkwardness hovers over the film like a cloud.
Perhaps if the American Pie folks decided to not try and squeeze in three films in such a short period of time, then American Wedding might have been a better film. And based on what we have seen so far of the fourth film (titled American Reunion), Wedding is shaping up to be the Rocky V of the franchise. The less said about this thing, the better.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The AVC-encoded 2.35:1 widescreen presentation of American Wedding by Universal does little to breathe high-definition life into the film. Image detail is lacking, and while black levels look fine and flesh tones and colors are reproduced accurately, things like film grain and background depth are tough to discern. It's not that watching the film is unpleasant or a disappointment, but when going on recall (or even a comparison) with the standard definition disc it's hard to justify a purchase when the Blu-ray looks as average as it does.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is a slight surprise in the amount of channel panning and directional effects that occur in the rear channels. The subwoofer gets involved in the action as well during the club sequence/dance off that Stifler is a part of, with the bass provided a nice layer of robust sound to the activities. In the smaller sequences dialogue is consistent and requires little to no adjustment, and stays balanced in the center channel through the experience. If there was one thing I liked about revisiting American Wedding, it might have been the soundtrack.
The extras from the 2003 Extended Party Edition, have been ported over to this release, with one addition, and it's the reason why these films are coming out to Blu-ray now. "A Look Inside" the fourth film (3:58) does just that, and the surprise of seeing the entire cast back is more notable than anything seen here, including a couple of gags for the film. Next are 11 deleted scenes (22:09) with introductions by Herz which show a little more behind the scenes introductions and Jim's ailing grandma, but other than that, blah. The outtake reel (6:07) follows and is surprisingly not funny, while Stifler speak (7:15) gets into the mind and process of Scott as he inhabits the character, and includes some of Stifler's greatest hits. "Enter the Dominatrix" (9:47) examines the bachelor party scene in the film (which apparently was so good I was nonplussed about it), where we see the brainstorming, shooting and outtakes of it, along with the requisite on-set playing around. Based on Biggs' main gag in the film, you should know by now what "Grooming the Groom" (6:34) is likely about. "Cheesy Wedding Video" (2:59) shows us the Jim and Michelle nuptials, while "Kevin Cam" (3:34) is Nichols showing us around on-set during the bachelor party scenes. "Nikki's Hollywood Journal" (9:55) is where Nikki Ziering (who plays one of the strippers for the party) shows us what it's like on one of her days.
But there's more, including not one, but two commentary tracks! The one with Scott and Dylan is a little more active and gung-ho in tone, as Scott is both enthusiastic and appreciative about the project, while the duo maintain solid recall on the film. It is also lighthearted (Scott says they aren't talking about The Godfather after all) and a pleasant track to listen to. The other track has Biggs, Hannigan, Thomas and Nichols and is a little drier, despite Biggs' attempts to keep the track moving, there is a lot of watching of the film by the group. They share raves on the cast that did not appear for the commentaries and also have solid recollection of the shoot, but there is hardly anything earth-shattering you are going to get from either track. And as some sort of thanks for buying the disc again, Universal has included a standard definition copy of the film (where the screen grabs originate) and a downloadable digital copy for your convenience.
American Wedding is a rushed affair based on the success of the two previous American Pie movies and as a result is easily the least funny of the three, with some cast contributing nothing while others go through the motions. Technically the disc wanes a bit on the video side of things and from an extras perspective, there may be a lot here but none of it is really memorable or worthwhile after the first viewing. Honestly, I would probably skip this one of all of the films to date, but if you are a completist, feel free to see this again, just don't say I did not warn you.