American Pie - The Wedding

Starring: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott and Eddie Kaye Thomas
Universal Pictures Video
RRP 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available now

Jim and Michelle have grown up and are getting married. Michelle's gorgeous sister, Cadence, flies in to be maid of honour, and when Stifler and Finch catch sight of her, they battle for her affections. Stifler opts for a gentlemanly approach, leaving Finch with no choice but to play the philanderer. Who will Cadence choose? Jim and Michelle have bigger problems to deal with, including disparaging relatives, dancing lessons, a naughty maid, a sexy female cop and a hairy wedding cake...

It's funny, isn't it, how comedies seem to have more of a tendency to be renamed when crossing the Atlantic to Britain than any other movie genre, especially when American Pie cast members are involved? Winter Break became Snow Job, Van Wilder lost its National Lampoon's prefix, and now American Wedding (as you will hear it referred to in the special features) is given the more explanatory title of American Pie - The Wedding. Perhaps this was done to prevent it from being lost amid the spate of recent American Something-titled movies, the latest of which is American Splendor.

But I digress.

The important thing is: does this film live up to its predecessors? Many critics have bemoaned the fact that several former cast members are missing this time around, including Chris Klein (alias Oz), Shannon Elizabeth (Nadia), Tara Reid (Vicky) and Mena Suvari (Heather). However, all of these actors were underused in the second movie, lumbered with roles that were contrived into the plot and didn't really do their characters justice. I think it's better to dispense with them altogether than to have them around just for the sake of it. Some cameo appearances at the wedding itself might have been a nice touch, though.

Rest assured that Eugene Levy, as Jim's dad, arguably the funniest character of the entire ensemble, is present and as hilarious as ever.

One of the remaining characters is unfortunately wasted, as Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) gets very little to do, but by way of compensation we are introduced to several new people. These include Michelle's (Buffy's Alyson Hannigan) snooty parents (Deborah Rush and Fred Willard) and Jim's (Jason Biggs) even more miserable grandmother (Angela Paton). Then there is the lovely January Jones as Cadence, who excites the interests of both Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Stifler (Seann William Scott), leading to many of the movie's best scenes as the two antagonists steal each other's tactics to try and win her over. Stifler's efforts to impress Cadence and her family also result in what is probably the series' grossest scene yet, when he has to eat something very unpleasant indeed. He also, amazingly, gets in touch with his sensitive side!

The movie released on DVD and video is an extended version of what was seen in cinemas, incorporating extra footage of the bachelor party arranged by Stifler, in which Nikki Schieler Ziering and Amanda Swisten play strippers. This scene alone makes American Pie - The Wedding the raunchiest in the series!

Further deleted or extended scenes are to be found among the special features, as well as out-takes, and behind-the-scenes footage of the bachelor party, Jim's "special haircut" and the creation and realisation of the enduringly popular Stifler. There are also two audio commentaries, the first by Seann William Scott and director Jesse Dylan, the second by the other leading cast members.

The Wedding isn't as funny or as touching as the original American Pie, but it comes a close second and is certainly an improvement on American Pie 2.

Richard McGinlay

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