American Wedding focuses heavily on the next step for Jim and Michelle, which was a wise move. It’s secondary focus is on Stifler, which dominates the beginning of the film. That is a very rough start.
The scenes with Jim and Michelle work well. They are likable characters. And to play Michelle’s parents, they got the terrific Fred Willard and Deborah Rush. The early scenes where “Stifler Ruins Everything” are tiring. But, somehow, they start to transform Stifler. Oh, sure, he is a douche, but they really play up just how badly he wants to be liked. This results in the homophobic character trying to prove to the patrons of a gay bar that they totally want him. The dance off he starts is actually quite amusing.
Again, a lot of the heart is from Jim’s dad. There is a genuinely heartwarming moment where Michelle is feeling uncertain, and she seeks the advice of Jim’s Dad. When she mentions Jim told her he is the person he trusts most for life advice, Levy’s face lights up, like he always wished this was true, but never believed it.
This installment is notable as Shannon Elizabeth, Mena Suvari, Natasha Lyonne and Tara Reid are completely absent. I suspect they had no idea how to fit them into the tale.
There are gross out jokes, embarrassing moments with Strippers at the bachelor party (Aspects of this scene work well, as everyone tries to cover up, when Jim unexpectedly brings Michelle’s parents back to the house). Despite a rocky start, American Wedding is a surprise, and one of the best of the franchise.