AMERICAN PIE: THE WEDDING
US, 2003, 94 minutes, Colour
Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Eddie Kaye, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eugene Levy, Molly Cheek, January Jones, Fred Willard, Deborah Rush.
Directed by Jesse Dillon.
Not being a great fan of the first two American Pie films (so, standing against the rest of the world according to the huge box office of each film), I approached the third instalment with some apprehension. The opening scene in the restaurant fulfilled the apprehension, a sex situation with the hero, Jim, which his father (the always entertaining Eugene Levy) misinterprets and the cause embarrassment. There were a number of crass sex jokes during the film and one excremental joke that has us squirming, the film has its pie, so to speak, and eats it, but...
Writer Adam Herz who invented the characters and had them mixed up with sexual shenanigans in the first two films decided that they had to grow up. And this makes a difference, quite a big difference. While Jim (Jason Biggs) causes a mess wherever he goes, he has now graduated and realises that he is in love with the often gawky Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and that he wants to marry her. His friends can't believe it but enter into the spirit of the wedding preparations. In fact, the whole film is focussed on a wedding, a lot of the old-fashioned traditions associated with weddings and, more surprisingly, an amount of dialogue about the nature of love and lifelong commitment. My guess would be that there will be more young people in the US who watch this film who will be persuaded by the film that there really is something of value in growing up, taking responsibility, committing oneself in love than by any sermon on marriage.
Still there is Seann William Scott's character of Stifler who makes us squirm with his macho, sex-obsessed life, his
complete lack of sensitivity and finesse. And, yet, he also finally stops thinking about himself (well, at least, for a
few hours) and also contributes to the wedding. By the end, most of it is rather sweet. That is not to say that it has
not got enough crass jokes and some gross-out sequences that will not be to the taste of audiences who prefer the gentle to the bumptious and raucous.
1. The popularity of the two American Pie films? Their audiences? Young people? Comedy, crassness, sexual preoccupations? Young people identifying with the "rites of passage" comedy?
2. The title, Don McLean's song? The image of everything being American like apple pie? The irony?
3. The Midwest settings, families, homes, workplaces, study? The scenes in Chicago, the city itself, the gay bar? The luxury hotel, the sea, the rooms, affluence? An authentic atmosphere for the comedy?
4. Audience knowledge of the characters and remembering the previous films? The transition in age, their having finished college and graduated, the prospect of work? Maturity, taking responsibility? Engagements and marriage and the repercussions of marriage?
5. The film having its pie and eating it? The sex scenes, the crass jokes, the excremental jokes? And yet the focus on engagement, fidelity, marriage, commitment? The traditional trappings of marriage?
6. The focus on Jim, his having made the transition to adulthood, his good relationship with his parents, especially his father? The opening, the restaurant, his wanting to propose, Michelle misunderstanding, literally caught with his trousers down? Followed by the proposal? His father's pride? Michelle's ready acceptance? His having had relationships only with Michelle, coming to understand that he loved her, wanting to marry her? His tradition of making a mess of things? His telling his friends and their disbelief? His not wanting Stifler to come to the wedding? The meeting with Stifler and his discovery at the engagement party? His letting Stifler teach him to dance? Doing everything for Michelle, arranging for the wedding dress, going to Chicago, the shop, the irony of the gay bar? Stifler's dance enabling the dressmaker to give agreement to make the dress? The preparations, his meeting his in-laws - and their critical questions of him? His inviting them to dinner and the mix-up of the bachelor party and the girls? His declarations of love for Michelle? The build-up to the wedding, the wedding ceremony - a future?
7. Michelle, her parents, Midwest? Her bluntness, sexuality? The opening sequence in the restaurant? Accepting the proposal, her parents arriving, the engagement party, her joy at the dress? Not wanting Stifler to come? Her sister's arrival, the bonds between the two? The discussion with Jim's father about the nature of love, her limited and crass images, her getting some understanding? The difficulty in writing the vows? Her wanting to be the centre of attention once in her life, walking up the aisle and her fulfilment? The expression of the marriage vows of each of them and the expressions of true love?
8. Jim's parents, ingenuous, supportive? The preparations, his father always getting in crisis, the double-takes? The contrast with Michelle's parents, the discussions with Jim, the parties, the preparations? The crass sequence when Michelle's mother thought that Stifler had chocolates? The women at the bachelor party and the father's response? The happy ending for the parents?
9. Finch and his aloofness, Kevin and his friendship? Their observing, trying to keep Stifler out of things? Their helping with the preparation, going to Chicago? Cadence and her arrival, Stifler and his pretence, Finch and his pretending to be like Stifler? Her response to each of them? Her choice of Stifler? Finch and his meeting with Stifler's mother - and the memories of the sexual encounters of the past? With her in the bath, the two friends and their looking in the steamed window?
10. Stifler, a strong screen presence, his crass manner, gross behaviour? With the football coaching? Feeling left out of the wedding, intruding at the party? His manner, swearing? His teaching Jim to dance? Going to the gay bar, his not realising it, being hit on, the rival dancing and his success, the gay men and their support? Helping with the girls for the party? His arranging the bachelor party, the irony of Jim not knowing and coming with Michelle's parents? The two women and their performance? Finch and Kevin? The improvising that it was all arranged and to make a hero of Jim? Cadence discovering his true nature, her anger with him, his apology, expressing his love for her, dancing at the wedding?
11. Box office success? The appeal of this kind of mixture of crass jokes and sentiment?
12. The impact in 2003 of a film which advocates marriage and life commitment and endorses the traditions and rituals of marriage?