HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Now Showing Today's Date:

American Wedding

The cool thing about a movie series you like is that you get to watch its stars grow up before your very eyes. In the case of American Wedding, those stars would be Chris Klein and Mena Suvari, who grew up enough to stay completely away from this third film. To be fair, their characters matured and grew to the point they had no place anyway, and in the world of the American… movies, that's as good as being dead.

Instead, the wedding of the title is between Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), two of the goofier characters of the franchise who have remained pretty much unchanged from their initial appearances. Because they have now graduated from college, marriage seems the next logical (?) step, and hilarity should ensue as, without any reason at all, Michelle wants a very traditional wedding.

It's plausible enough, if not well motivated, and anyway, sex comedies don't need much of a plot as long as the jokes keep coming. But if a filmmaker is going to bother with story ideas, he has a responsibility to develop them. Director Jesse Dylan (yes, son of Bob and director of How High) simply doesn't have the skill.

Dylan depends on the script to make the mostly physical gags work. Though there are some genuine laughs in the movie, many fall flat. If the idea of the joke doesn't strike you as funny, you're out of luck, because the direction makes no effort to build it into something.

It also proves that screenwriter Adam Herz got insanely lucky to have the talented Weitz Brothers direct the first film. The most annoying example of a bit that could have gone far comes after the outrageously annoying (and strangely most realistic) Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) stumbles into a gay bar. At first outraged that he's been flirting with drag queens, he's more horrified that they don't want him. Desperately, the Stiffmeister goes into a dance routine to make himself attractive to the aptly named Bear (Eric Allan Kramer).

So why isn't it funnier? The script would have you believe that Stifler's dark secret is that he can dance, and in fact the only way he would be allowed at Jim and Michelle's wedding is if he would teach Jim how to trip the light fantastic.

But at no point in the film does Stifler actually appear to have any dance skill other than the stereotypical awkward male jerking around. Our only proof comes from Jim gasping in amazement, "you're good!" Oh, and that Bear does come around, but Kramer plays it with such a wink that you just know it's more patronization than real arousal.

Many of the builds fare even less well. In a desperate bid to give Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) something to do, he vies with Stifler for the attentions of Michelle's sister Cadence (January Jones). After a pretty good set-up that to become what Cadence likes, both men switch personalities, Finch just fades away, only to come back when Dylan needs a really whorish reaction shot to explain to us that something gross (hence funny) just happened.

The least funny of the original foursome, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), might as well not be there. He doesn't even rate a subplot (though he mentions a girlfriend), but as Nicholas doesn't have anything else to do, he shows up for the sake of filling out the wedding party.

Where Dylan does succeed is in his casting. In fact, it's more than succeeding, it's completely lucking out. Adding Kramer to the group (inexplicably, Bear becomes a wedding guest) works extremely well, for though he's "designed" as a stereotype, he refuses to play it that way. He's just a guy that happens to have no seat in his leather pants.

As Michelle's parents, Deborah Rush and Fred Willard bring a little more than cliché to their uptight WASP couple. You get the sense that Rush really just wants the best for her little girl, oblivious to her (self-described) nympho nature. Willard, too, has a sincerity that belies the part. When he overcomes his own prejudices to wish "many happy sitting shivas" to Jim's family, you know his heart is in it.

True, Dylan inherited some of his cast, a group that continues to make the movie watchable. The little Kaye gets to do that isn't mugging has a sublimity that says movies just don't know what to do with him. Even though Scott has become a parody of himself in a tremendously short time, he knows what he's doing to wring every possible laugh out of Stifler's jerkiness. Though at times you may long for the subtlety of his work in, say, Dude, Where's My Car?, Scott is struggling against turgid direction.

The absolute gem, though, is Eugene Levy as Jim's Dad. Though Jim himself seems only slightly above borderline retarded, his father believably loves him. Not only can Levy waggle his eyebrows to comedic effect better than any man alive, he never forgets to be real underneath it. When Michelle blurts out that Jim considers his father a very wise man, you can see the surprised gratitude shining in Levy's eyes.

It's a moment that comes by accident, clearly all Levy, and it's a shame that Dylan couldn't create more like it. For that moment, American Wedding becomes more than just a cheap sex comedy. It becomes something you can say you kind of liked.


Derek McCaw

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites