Third part overcomes a "Stif’ start |

Third part overcomes a "Stif’ start

“American Wedding” certainly isn’t as sweet as the first two “American Pie” movies, but it doesn’t deserve the sour reviews it’s getting from tart-tongued critics.

Maybe film students and people who get paid a lot more to write movie reviews than I do have a point in dissecting the newest – and supposedly final – “American Pie” entry. Somebody probably needs to deconstruct Stifler (Seann William Scott) discuss the zen of Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and dare to ask just what’s what function Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas – yes, you are required to go by three names to appear in an “American Pie” movie) serves.

So stop me if I start rambling on about things like “ensemble cast” and the movie simply putting way too much pressure on Stifler’s character in the beginning.

And while “American Wedding” doesn’t live up to the standard the first two “American Pie” movies set, it does deliver the goods. Yes, it looks lower-budget than the first two. The members of the “American Pie” gang whose careers have taken off – Chris Klein, Tara Reid and Mena Suvari (or, really, most of the cast members with just two names) are conspicuously absent.

So, remember the third paragraph? The great thing about the “American Pie” cycle’s ensemble cast is each movie focused on different characters: The first was really about Ostreicher (Klein), Heather (Suvari), Kevin and Vicky (Reid) – with Jim (Jason Biggs) and Stifler violating pastries and the MPAA rulebook for laughs. The second was really about Jim and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), but Stifler got most of the good one-liners. So, do the math: The title “American Wedding” refers to the nuptials of Jim and Michelle, but it’s really a movie about the redemption of Steven Stifler. And that’s too much stress on that thin a role.

But once Stifler’s front-and-center trying to woo Michelle’s cousin Cadence (January Jones), the gags don’t seem so contrived. The movie really gets rolling when Stifler tries to play the anti-Stifler, leaving Finch and Kevin slack-jawed with horror. In fact, I think I might’ve tainted Kimberly’s review: I’m not sure if it was the entire audience laughing during the bachelor party scene (which rivals Jim’s sticky situation in “American Pie 2”) or if I was just being that loud.

So I guess this is the last installment of the “American Pie” serial. And while the finale doesn’t live up to the standards the first two set, it’s still a sweet, funny slice of life.

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