The American Pie movies are weird. They ostensibly exist to present a series of convoluted embarrassing moments involving sex, bodily fluids, or ideally, both. But they’re also supremely sappy and sometimes even genuinely heartwarming. Which means the franchise is oddly well-suited to a wedding movie, because weddings are generally a mashup of things that make you cringe and thinks that make you say “awww.”
To my relief, after the opening Rube Goldberg of Shame that leaves Jim’s erection to a restaurant full of people after he proposes, most of the embarrassments are not suffered by the bride and groom. They’re kind of sidelined for much of the movie, actually, probably because happy couples are boring (this is why so many wedding movies are about couples who should not get married breaking up).
The actual plot is a redemption story for Stifler, as he tries to prove worthy of an invite to Jim’s wedding and then win the heart of Michelle’s little sister Cadence (played by January Jones, whom I didn’t recognize until the very end of the movie, which amazes me, because how many pretty blonde actresses with a strangely flat affect can there be in Hollywood? Oh, wait…).
First he puts on a show as being a nice, intellectual, sensitive guy. But pretending to be someone you are not to find love never works. And in an American Pie movie, it also results in you having to eat dog shit.
So eventually Stifler gives up the act, but still wins the girl because she’s so impressed by his herculean efforts to save all the parts of Jim and Michelle’s wedding that he himself screwed up. Finch, who had been initially charmed by Cadence’s beauty and interest in philosophy, very rightly and adorably realizes that the real deal is that she’s easily amused and kind of shallow, so she’s perfect for Stifler.
I watched this movie because KWu suggested it after I ripped up Wedding Crashers, and that comparison makes me feel more confident that I can say I enjoyed American Wedding without shame. One thing I appreciate about the whole American Pie series is that the sex comedy doesn’t come from condemning certain people’s desire as laughable. Other movies would laugh at characters like Michelle or Stifler’s Mom for wanting sex in the first place, because they’re not within a tiny frame of acceptable desirability for young hetero dudes. The American Pie movies don’t have that limited, lazy approach to sex comedy. The jokes come from the awkward and misguided things sexual desire makes us do, not from judging people for having that desire in the first place.
So yeah, this is a movie that can depict its characters accidentally having sex with a grandmother or unknowingly partying is a gay bar and somehow manage to only be minimally offensive in either scene. It’s kind of a wonder to behold.
April 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm
I love the your review actually makes me want to see this! strange because I always thought this series was awful but it is nice to see the bride and groom not split up for once. also I’m a sucker for people finding love, even if they are stifler
April 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm
I was hoping you’d review this! I haven’t seen it since it was in theaters, but I remember liking it best of the series (by far).
April 26, 2011 at 1:38 am
The American Pie movies are kind of the few of its genre that I can stand. Been a long time since I’ve seen any of them, but I agree with your take on the laughs for the crazy mishaps, not the desires.
April 26, 2011 at 12:22 pm
seriously, that was January Jones? I kind of see it, now that you pointed it out, but I am completely shocked.
April 26, 2011 at 7:21 pm
I totally thought that was Christina Applegate!
April 26, 2011 at 8:31 pm
YAY! Honestly, I love the American Pie series. True story.
May 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm
Oh hey, thanks for taking my suggestion! January Jones…ha. Have you seen her commercials beseeching us to help save sharks? It just makes me wonder how she ever ended up with sharks as her pet cause, rather than inducing much sympathy for the sharks themselves.
I like the American Pie series more than I would expect to because of reading a Salon.com review that said something similar to what you mentioned, that they are somehow a bit above the lazy approach to sex comedy. I prefer this to the Judd Apatow style generally.
You’re right, happy couples in movie format are pretty boring. I can think of a couple good TV marriages though…Coach Taylor and Tami on Friday Night Lights, and the parents in Joan of Arcadia are also really sweet.
September 21, 2015 at 5:49 am
quite helpful material, overall I imagine this is worthy of a book mark, thank you