If the first “American Pie” movie was surprisingly sweet in 1999, and “American Pie 2” had a similar flavor but didn’t taste quite as good in 2001, then “American Wedding” is enough to give you a tummy ache. That’s because the third movie in the series isn’t so much about the sex-crazed yet lovable group of kids from the first two installments. It’s about the comeuppance of Stifler - and a little bit of Stifler goes a long way.
Played to a jumpy, juvenile frenzy by Seann William Scott, Stifler hasn’t grown up like his friends Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), who are getting married.
So he has a complete tantrum when he learns he’s been excluded from the plans and proceeds to weasel his way in — and, in the process, ruins everything.
Jim and Michelle are almost an afterthought. Other key figures from the first two movies — played by Tara Reid, Mena Suvari and Chris Klein — are nowhere to be found and aren’t even mentioned.
But sophisticated Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) — the most interesting character of all — is back, along with Jim’s buddy, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas).
So is Jim’s dorky dad (Eugene Levy), still doling out advice from the Too Much Information Department.
By this stage, though, the whole exercise is so dragged out and watered down, it’s essentially a series of gross-out gags with bits of dialogue tying them together.
Director Jesse Dylan (as in son-of-Bob) clearly knows his way around this territory, having directed the 2001 comedy “How High,” starring rappers Method Man and Redman as stoners who get into Harvard. But he still manages to frame his shots horribly and lets the jokes run on too long.
One scene - in which Stifler stumbles into a gay bar and ends up competing in a dance-off to ’80s songs ranging from Duran Duran’s “The Reflex” to “Maniac” from the “Flashdance” soundtrack - is mildly amusing at first but eventually seems interminable.
It’s also indicative of a homophobic vibe that permeates the script from Adam Herz, who wrote the first two movies as well.
In an attempt at being sensitive to impress Michelle’s gorgeous younger sister, Cadence (January Jones), Stifler dresses in pastel Lacoste shirts, gushes like a girl over flowers and chocolate and deems everything “fantastic” and “precious.”
Dogs also bear the brunt of several gags.
In one, Stifler accidentally lets a Pomeranian eat Michelle’s wedding band - so, of course, he has to wait for it to be digested, then pick through droppings, which are later mistaken for a chocolate truffle.
In an another scene, Jim’s future in-laws find him in a compromising position with Stifler, two dogs and a lap full of cake frosting.
As for the titular pie of the first two movies in the troika, it’s been replaced this time with a wedding cake, which also falls victim to Jim’s pubic experimentation.