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American Wedding

Jim, Finch, Kevin, and Stifler, together one last time. And you know what? It's still fun. Part of what makes the American Pie franchise work is that everyone knows people like this, and this film really sends out one final message loud and clear: Normality isn't the rule, it's the exception everyone tries to convince you is the rule. But I digress.

American Wedding brings the writer and cast (minus Chris Klein and Mena Suvari) back once more for Jim and Michelle's big trip down the aisle. And, of course, being of the franchise that it is, more than a few things go laughably wrong. But this film deserves its R-rating and more, if only for one scene that had half the audience laughing and the other half trying not to throw up their popcorn.

Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan return as Jim Levinstein and Michelle Flaherty, the nerd and the... er... band-nerd. And, in typical Jim-style, not even the proposal can go smoothly. From misinterpreted requests to missing jewelry, this scene starts the movie off in a reassuring way for fans of the series; you know it's going to be business as usual.

But this movie really isn't about Jim, or Michelle. It's about Steve Stifler. This is his coming-of-age period, in which he displays his true colors... oh heck, he displays just how much of an idiot he is, mostly, but there are some very surprising scenes with the 'ol Stif-meister that bring a new depth to his character, and make him seem almost not so much a caricature of that one friend we all have that we sort-of like, but don't want to be seen in polite company with. Seann William Scott really out-does himself as the foul-mouthed little chucklehead member of the group, and displays some moves that, quite frankly, surprised and delighted the entire audience.

Thomas Ian Nicholas returns as Kevin, but is given little to do in this film except act as a foil, a patsy, and general hanger-on'er. His performance is fine, what little there is of it. Likewise, there is too little with Eugene Levy as Jim's Dad (which is how he's listed in the credits, actually). He's the kind of father most people wanted to have, understanding and supportive, but then he starts talking about things that make you cringe, and you begin to understand why Jim loves his Dad but really doesn't want to talk with him too much. Notable also is Fred Willard as Harold Flaherty, Michelle's father. I've always enjoyed Willard as a performer, but he was especially entertaining in one scene in this film.

My favorite character, however, is and always has been, Paul Finch, played so serenely by Eddie Kaye Thomas. Finch is still rather spiritual, and still smooth and suave, but this time reveals that he's also very smart, and _very_ quick on his feet. He and Stiffler change roles for a bit of the film, and it's a very funny collection of scenes to watch.

While the performances were really good, I feel I must specifically address the humor. 99% of it was truly funny, there were many laughs, but there was one scene that was just plain over the top... fecal humor the likes of which Austin Powers would shy away at. This was simply unnecessary, made many people in the theatre physically uncomfortable (and queasy), and yanked me quickly and unpleasantly out of the movie in order to disassociate myself from what I was seeing. Were it not for this one scene, I could rate this film higher, but it fell the way of other films, most recently the otherwise very funny Van Wilder and its "pastry" scene.

But even after all the ups and downs, the movie ends with a nice message for everyone who's been a fan of this series, a "feel good about yourself" moment, which I won't spoil. It's just a nice send-off, and seems to suggest that, even though we're one society, we're a society made up of unique and interesting individuals, and that's a good thing.

Overall, I give this film a B-. It could have been so good, but some people, like Steve Stifler, just don't know when to stop, or when something has gone too far, or the difference between bad humor and gross humor.


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