American Wedding

By Adam Lippe

americanweddingAmerican Wedding is kind of an anti-achievement because it seems to insist that it’s much dumber than it should be. Since these movies are just sitcoms with vulgarity, there is little to be distracted by. The first film was guilty of stopping the movie dead in order to set up the gross out jokes, which in turn, made them unfunny. The sweetness was unexpected, and almost made it worth seeing.

The third one follows the same formula; Jason Biggs is embarrassed by something sexual that his dad catches him in. Then the plot is quickly sketched out. Then there will be a very obvious setup for a joke that will occur in about ten minutes, and each piece is slowly put in place so even the most mentally insufficient audience members can realize what’s going on.

americanwedding1In this case, we have a dog fucking scene, which has to end with Biggs’ soon to be parents-in-law walking in on it and misunderstanding the whole thing. Each layer is made obvious as if it was a pile on in football, and each player jumps on in slow motion. Oh, look there’s Stifler; I wonder what he’ll do. And oh my, an excuse for Jason Biggs’ pants to be around his ankles. And now the dog starts licking Stifler’s dick. And my, he’s enjoying it and encouraging the dog… etc. Cue Fred Willard (completely wasted, and obviously picking up a fat paycheck to make sure him and co-star Eugene Levy can make all the Christopher Guest movies they want) and his wife opening the door and making the discovery. But since the movie is all scenes like this, it never gets going at all. The whole thing is in stop mode. Constant comedic misunderstandings (having to find a wedding ring in dogshit and then having it mistaken for chocolate, and then having someone have to eat it, more etc.) that in terms of inventiveness make Home Improvement look like Being John Malkovich.

I was half amused at a scene where Stifler dances at a gay club trying to prove how sexy he is, but the scene is very poorly done, and succumbs to mass stereotypes almost instantaneously (mincing and lisping, the whole nine). In fact there is one punchline which shows almost as much contempt for the audience as Bad Boys II. Biggs thinks it would be a good idea to shave his balls. So we see him go at it and he collects all the hair on a towel. For some reason, he decides to throw it out of the hotel window. The next thing we see, the hair is going through some sort of air vent, and then we hear screaming. After that there is a cut to Levy and Biggs looking ashamed and then a cake being thrown out. And then a caterer scolds Biggs. We’re supposed to understand that somehow the hair floated into the cake, but there was no shot of the hair in the cake, nor a discovery of what the hair actually was, nor an establishing of the space it all. We have no idea where the cake is in relation to the hotel window, nor how the hair would have got there. Clearly the screenwriter thought pubic hair in a wedding cake would be funny, but didn’t bother to connect the dots, and assumed the audience wouldn’t care anyway.

americanweddingpicEndless things are wrong with the movie even within the genre it’s going for. Characters turn up out of nowhere, Stifler’s mom just shows up at the end, no particular reason for her to be at this hotel where this wedding which she isn’t invited to is taking place. Stifler turns sweet and thoughtful halfway through the movie, therefore defusing any additional joy you’d have in scenes such as one where he has to eat dog shit and smile through it, or one where he fucks an old lady in the dark (you haven’t seen contrived til you’ve seen this scene). One of Biggs’ friends, Thomas Ian Nicholas (that’s right, The Kid in King Arthur’s Court who also has a broken arm that allows him to throw a baseball 100 mph) who is in virtually every scene, and even attends the bachelor party and is tied to a chair, has about four lines in the film. He’s a glorified extra, and just seems to be there because they needed another friend to smile and be supportive.

There is one good line in the movie (“Love isn’t just a feeling! It’s shaving your balls!”), but then it is made saccharine by its repetition during the wedding vows, and destroys the memory of why it was amusing in the first place.

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By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]

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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.