Blu-ray
For Fans Only
2.5 stars
Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
2 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
Supplements
3 Stars
High-Def Extras
1 Stars
Bottom Line
For Fans Only

American Wedding

Street Date:
March 13th, 2012
Reviewed by:
Nate Boss
Review Date: 1
March 13th, 2012
Movie Release Year:
2003
Studio:
Universal
Length:
103 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Another two years, another 'American Pie' movie. This time around, there is great change afoot. The principle cast is cut nearly in twain, removing an extra layers of unnecessary dialogue and side plots. Chris Klein, Mena Suvari, Natasha Lyonne, Tara Reid, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Owen, and Casey Affleck, all veterans of both prior films, have been put on ice, leaving the cast members who actually have stories (and Thomas Ian Nicholas, for some reason) to handle a more delicate subject: marriage. Perverse mishap and disaster filled marriage. Whereas 'American Pie 2' showed us a group of kids who hadn't grown up one lick, this sequel, which takes place around three years later (give or take, due to no specific timeline being mentioned, the only hint being college graduation) shows us the hurdles of stepping into adulthood and responsibility in that awkward young adult-to-adult phase.

"Well, Michelle, we did it. Happy graduation!"

Well, at least we know the quality of the writing hasn't changed, if the opening lines are any indicator...Jim and Michelle are finally doing it. No, not that. They've been doing that for some time. They're tying the knot! With Michelle tied up arranging the wedding of her dreams and handling the arrival of her sister Cadence (January Jones, before she learned how to be an ice bitch), Jim's duties before the big day aren't much easier, as he has to convince her parents (Deborah Rush and Fred Willard) that he's good enough for their daughter. Easier said than done, considering Jim's penchant for horribly inappropriate disasters. Will the wedding between the hapless perv and the geeky nympho go on without a hitch, or will their friends find a way to sabotage the event?

'American Wedding' is a slight step up from 'American Pie 2.' The exclusion of redundant or entirely unnecessary characters frees up time to spend with the others, to get to know them, which fixes one of the bigger mishaps. The reliance on outdoing the previous films does remain, though. Fortunately, some of the "gross out" moments of this film fare better, even if some are painfully unfunny and not even that uncomfortable level of embarrassing where you empathize for a character.

Jim is, well, still Jim, so one can expect more than a few horrific sexual mishaps, though this time masturbation isn't one of his downfalls. Due to the "up the ante" downfall of any sequel, we're given some pretty "out there" moments, from mock bestiality, to coprophagia, pubic hair fiascos, and even a sequence that borders on, how shall we say, romancing the unwilling..., all in an attempt to keep fans of the series from crying foul at a serious attempt at a film. Heck, there's even an excursion to a gay bar, where Stifler discovers he may not be the draw he once thought he was. The writing doesn't miss this opportunity, though, as Steve's offense taken to the thought of rejection, even by those he would reject in less than a heartbeat reminds us that the cocksure hooligan is still an egoist at large.

While previous films had minor adult interference, what with Jim's Dad (yep, that's his character name) and mother often adding to his misfortunes, this film adds another layer, with Michelle's parents putting pressure on the future son-in-law they just met. While Rush is embarrassingly overacting, Willard brings the goods, stealing a few scenes in Eugene Levy fashion, his straight man getting more bent as the film progresses. Michelle is also a major change in dynamics, as her screen time in previous films, despite her importance, was minimal at best. She's suddenly allowed to be as hot as she is, not just a bizarre looking pony-tailed geek. This works wonders in filling the shoes Shannon Elizabeth would no longer wear.

'American Wedding,' despite the addition by subtraction, does sometimes fall flat on its face. The major set piece, Jim's bachelor party, is a nightmarishly unfunny failure. In the unrated cut of the film, the sequence is expanded dramatically, and the entire bit plays as one unfunny skit after another, montaged in a fashion that makes continuity seem irrelevant. Keeping track of the states of undress for all the characters can pull you right out of the scene, while only Stifler's man child nature survives the stripper onslaught. Another major concern is how much of a cartoon Stifler turns into in this film. His various grunts and chimp-like noises make him seem like he's regressed rather than matured, and it's rather distracting to see the actor act the part of a fool, rather than a jerk as he was in previous films. Throw in some excessive "convenience" to make the plot move along, and drama that is resolved so readily that it doesn't quite add anything to the film, and there's a lot of waste in this feature.

While including Willard added significantly to the humor quotient, the only good to come from Cadence's dynamic changing debut is the fact that Finch and Stifler both act out of their normal selves, with Stifler attempting to be sensitive (didn't Oz do that in the first film?) and intelligent, while his foil does his best Stifler impression. It's a fun side plot, but adds some unnecessary drama to the mix. This film tries too hard to move from point a to point b, and features a number of very dry, uninteresting, overblown segments that try to force the humor, whereas before it came naturally to the characters. This isn't a bad film, really, and can actually stand on its own two legs, but it definitely isn't a good film. It's a good thing the series took a break from going theatrical at this point, as I couldn't imagine how big a failure a fourth film would have been around 2005 or 2006.

The Disc: Vital Stats

All three films in the original 'American Pie' trilogy come to Blu-ray on Region free BD50 discs, housed in non-cut-out eco-cases, beneath attractive slipcovers that replicate the artwork beneath, with blue spines instead of plain white. The BD-Live on this disc is solely used to load two random pre-menu trailers. This particular release is a three disc set, though it offers no additional content over the two disc sets found on the other films (more on that later!).

A major problem with this disc is the way Universal now is not using a menu before disc play. While the film defaults to the unrated cut of the film, if you are watching extras, you're in for a pain in the ass. Even if you pause the film and select an extra, when it is complete, the film resumes. There's no way around this, no way to get to a top menu. Considering the amount of extras found on these three discs, this is hellish.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

For the third film in the series, Universal is back to the AVC MPEG-4 encode at 1080p.

The video is disappointing and frustrating. The opening sequences have horribly blown out flesh tones, making characters extremely red, and contrast is blown to smithereens. The picture stays overly warm for the majority of the film, to the point that even Finch's moles can disappear in the "either too red or too damn white" aesthetic that is human flesh. Hair is often indistinct and clumpy, while solid colored background elements have some minor banding. Edge enhancement can be spotted with less effort this time around, while numerous bits of blurriness lead me to wonder about excessive DNR application, with lawns that regularly look painted on they're so undefined.

This one just isn't pretty.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

While the video elements constantly change in this series, the audio stays the same, again with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track setting the sound stage.

Bass is excessive this time around, with the soundtrack elements getting so overpowered that you can hardly hear the guitar riffs of the Foo Fighters. The bass in the gay bar sequence is much less brutish, allowing music to be heard cleanly, but it doesn't come from all angles in this segment, which is a major disappointment. Rear use is solid, with plenty of activity in the more crowded sequences, but then there are moments, like the chanting football team surrounding Jim, where their noise only comes from the front speakers. Rears shouldn't be this hit or miss, especially considering how natural they sound when they're utilized properly.

This track isn't horrible, but it sometimes forgets what it's doing.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

This set includes a bonus DVD copy of the film, and features both cuts, theatrical and unrated, on the Blu-ray disc. Oddly, there's no theatrical trailer included this time around.

  • Audio Commentaries - Two tracks, one with Jesse Dylan and Seann William Scott, the other with Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Thomas Ian Nicholas. The Dylan/Scott track is a little bizarre, in an attempt to be humorous, as if Scott had a say in the moviemaking decisions. There's some gag about method acting in concerns to sex scenes, interesting conversation on alternate ideas for the Stifler character, and then Scott breaks character when he realizes the changes made from theatrical to unrated cuts each time they pop up. We also learn of another crude rhyme: chill out with his drill out. Yeah...The four actor track has more gaps in coverage, even if briefly, than the two man track, and discuss some interesting factoids, like ghetto filming environments leading to some negative situations, filming anecdotes and factoids (some not even related to this film, but the series in general). If you like rapid pace, the Dylan/Scott track is superior, but if you like info, the four actors win.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 22 min) - This set of axed scenes have too much intro time, often more time than the scenes themselves (ugh) and only play as a whole. Jim's dad finds the ring, Gramma gets fleshed out (you're welcome for that visual), there's more montage, poolside conversation, a circumcision joke, some geriatric spit swapping, tons of blow-up doll romancing, and even more gross love on the elderly.
  • Outtakes (SD, 6 min) - Gag reel.
  • Stifler Speak (SD, 7 min) - Praise of the Stiff-meister and his various character traits.
  • Enter the Dominatrix: Inside the Bachelor Party (SD, 10 min) - A look at how the awkward party developed. It's summed up, basically, as the need for boobies in an 'American Pie' film.
  • Grooming the Groom (SD, 6 min) - A focus on Jim's penis.
  • Cheesy Wedding Video (SD, 3 min) - Behind the scenes footage, off angle shots comprising a mock video for Jim and Michelle. More money was spent on this than most people's weddings.
  • Kevin Cam (SD, 3 min) - A day in the life of an actor? Then why'd they choose this schlub?
  • Nikki's Hollywood Journal (HD, 10 min) - How much work is involved in getting an actress, whose entire role is being naked, ready a premiere? Well, if you really care, you'll now know.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

A Digital Copy is included in this set, though it's unlike the other films in the series, as it is disc based, with the disc itself just thrown in the case in a paper sleeve. The stereotypical Universal My Scenes bookmarking feature is included, as are PocketBlu and BD-Live, which is only used for pre-menu distraction.

  • American Reunion: A Look Inside (HD, 4 min) - The same promo found on the other discs.

Final Thoughts

'American Wedding' fixes a lot of the problems with 'American Pie 2,' but still has its own set of pratfalls. While we initially thought the story was complete (and would have ended on a good, natural note), we have more 'Pie' coming, including the return of cast members once jettisoned, so this is the slimmest of the bunch. The gross out is still there, though sometimes this film tries too hard and falls flat. This Blu-ray disc falls flat on the video, a bloody mess if ever there were one, while the audio is passable. Again it's the extras that save the day, though this third film doesn't have the mega-feature or excess of commentaries like the previous films. This makes for a necessary refresher course before the new film, but doesn't demand a purchase from owners of the DVD.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy
  • Region A/B/C
  • BD50 disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French DTS 5.1
  • Spanish DTS 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • Stifler Speak
  • Two audio commentaries: - Director Jesse Dylan and Seann William Scott; Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Thomas Ian Nicholas
  • Enter the Dominatrix: Inside the Bachelor Party
  • Grooming the Groom
  • Cheesy Wedding Video
  • Nikki's Hollywood Journal

Exclusive HD Content

  • American Reunion: A Look Inside

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