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With the success of the first two American Pie movies it was almost a certainty that there would be a third. In 2003, Universal gathered almost all of the original players back together for one last piece of pie, this one served up with the backdrop of the wedding between Jim and Michelle.

The Movie
If you’ve seen the first two movies, then you know that the plot of the films is really secondary to the many and varied mishaps that our stars endure. However, this film attempts to bring all of the previous storylines together and resolve them once and for all. At their heart, the American Pie movies are the story of Jim Levenstein, as portrayed by Jason Biggs, and his attempts to find true love (or a good shag, if you’re referring to one of the first two movies). Through his search, he finds himself in incredibly embarrassing situations in very public places. Always, his father (expertly played by Eugene Levy) is there to comfort Jim and reassure him that everything he is experiencing is “completely normal”. By the end of the second film, Jim discovers that there is more to life than just sex, and that what he in fact is longing for is a loving relationship, which, at the end of the second movie, he finds with band camp girl Michelle Flaherty.

American Wedding: Unrated
As the third film of the trilogy opens Jim is attempting to propose to Michelle over dinner, but in a double case of errors, he has forgotten the ring and Michelle has misinterpreted what he is asking of her. Jim’s dad steps in to try and resolve the situation, but, in typical American Pie fashion, only serves to make matters worse. In the end, Jim does propose to Michelle, she agrees to marry him, and the long process of planning the wedding becomes the focus for the couple. Along the way, the wedding shower and bachelor party will serve as the backdrop for some of the sexually embarassing antics that Jim will once again through.

The writer of the film, Andy Herz, has learned that one of the main attractions of the first two films was the character of Steven Stifler, or “Stifmeister” as he is called. He is an oversexed high school football coach who can’t say a complete sentence without swearing or referring to some sort of male or female sexual organ. Unlike previous installments, the third film finds Stifler to be one of the main characters, and he is given much more screen time here. While amusing, eventually the character becomes somewhat overdone, and his sudden reversal of attitude and attempt at redemption at the end of the film is rather out of character.

American Wedding: Unrated
For those who liked the first two movies (and I am among them), Herz has replicated the formula here well, in pretty detailed fashion. You will find the requisite public humiliation of Jim, his father walking in on him in a rather compromising position, the father and son heart-to-heart talk, and Stifler once again having the “gross out” moment of the movie, ingesting a substance that has no business going into someone’s body.

Of course, you know the two will get married, but it’s the journey that is the fun here, and we have some new characters to come along for the ride. In particular Alyson’s father, portrayed by veteran comedy actor Fred Willard, is hilarious, and we meet for the first time Jim’s grandmother, who has some rather amusing interactions with Stifler. And don’t worry American Pie fans, Stifler’s mom makes one final appearance.

The disc offers the viewer an option of watching the film as it appeared in theaters or an “unrated” version. Clocking in at about 8 minutes longer than the original, most of the extra scenes in the “unrated” film are, as one would expect, included in the bachelor party scene. There are extra helpings of sexual mischief and debauchery to be found here, some of them rather funny, but, with the amount of female breasts which are evident, it is obvious why they had to be cut to achieve an R-rating.

In the end, Herz has put together a fine ending to the series. Although in many ways a retread of the original, lacking some of its creativity (and it’s tough to be creative when you’re writing your second sequel), the film has some very funny moments, and should please fans of the series immensely.

American Wedding: Unrated
Video
Presented here in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the transfer is a good one. The colours are rich and vivd, but I did notice a slight issue with some of the black levels. At some points the blacks seem to bleed into some of the colours. In addition, some of the lighting appeared to wash out some of the flesh tones. This is most evident near the end of the film when Michelle and Jim’s dad have a discussion about love. Neither of these should effect the viewer’s overall enjoyment of the film. The exterior shots of the site of the wedding and reception will be a perfect indication of just how good the colours look. The green of the grass is so striking that it left a lasting impression and made me want to visit where it was filmed.

Audio
The audio in the disc is a decent enough presentation. The material doesn't really call for anything more than the Dolby 5.1 which is contained on the disc, and even then probably doesn't even need that. There is nothing which would require the fading in and out of channels or movement from one to another. The music in the film is full and clear (especially during the Stifler dance-off...which has to be seen to be believed), and makes good use of the bass. A good rendering here.

Extras
Although there are a good amount of extras to be found here, I can't help feeling as though Universal is saving up some of them for an ultra special "Complete Pie" 3 pack somewhere down the road to include all three movies. The absence of even trailers or a "making of" featurette leads me to this conclusion. However, there are some very good bits to be seen in the package. I especially liked the deleted scenes, mostly because Herz takes the time to explain why the scene was originally written, and what led to it being abandoned to the cutting room floor. The reasoning behind some of the scenes are truly amazing and display the extent to which the movie studios influence every facet of a film. There is also a much longer version of a scene with Stifler and a blow-up doll which is one of the most hilarious things I have seen in a long time. It is too bad that only a small portion of it made it into the unrated edition of the film.

American Wedding: Unrated
The outtakes section demonstrates that although there were plenty of outtakes, often times that would normally have been included as an outtake actually made it into the film. As expected, many of the scenes in this part of the disc include actors who have difficulty remembering their line or breaking up during a scene. There is always a certain amount of ad-libbing that goes into most films, however, in an extras section entitled “Stifler Speak”, Herz explains that many of the scenes included a fair amount of ad-libbing, particularly when Seann William Scott was called upon to delivered a swear laden monologue. Herz just told Scott to go for it, and he made it up as he went along. Herz details how he came up with Stifler’s dialogue, and just how much free rein Scott has been given (particularly in the third film) to let things fly. Scott relates how during some of the scenes he would recite multiple variations of expletive-filled dialogue…no two being exactly alike.

As further proof that Seann William Scott and his character of Stifler have become the true star of the series, there are two separate feature-length commentaries included, one with the director, Jesse Dylan, along with Scott, and the second with the other four principal young adult actors, Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Thomas Ian Nicholas. The first with Dylan and Scott is interesting as they relate what went into the framing and filming of certain scenes, as well as have a good time making fun of the other actors and situations, and do the requisite gushing over the many different performances and actors. One interesting note, Scott proclaims to not be anything like his character of Stifler, and yet his commentary is full of expletives, without the verbal enhancement of body parts.

The second commentary with the four actors is definitely the weaker of the two. While the four actors are likeable enough, they don’t really add too much to the film, they often find themselves getting distracted by just watching the film, and, in the case of Thomas Ian Nicholas, rarely say anything. They admit during their commentary it is rather boring to listen to them, and they are right.

American Wedding: Unrated
Also in the extra material section are two featurettes, one on the filming of the bachelor party scene and another which details what went into the making of the pubic hair scene (and if you haven’t seen the film, I won’t spoil it for you!). Both involved some rather detailed planning (as most scenes do), and took several takes. In particular, the pubic hair scene required the presence of a special effects person to make sure that everything went according to script.

A slightly baffling inclusion in the extra material is a short featurette in which the viewer follows Nikki Ziering (the dominatrix cop from the bachelor party) around the day of the American Wedding movie premiere. We begin with her at her gym at 6:47 in the morning and follow her through her dress selection, tanning, hair and make-up application and then to the premiere that night. Although she is certainly beautiful to look out, it really adds nothing to my overall enjoyment of the film, which is what I look for in any extra feature.

The final inclusion is a brief film which is supposed to be the “actual” wedding video for Jim and Michelle. It takes scenes that we have all seen many times throughout the film and supplemental material (although some from a different angle), and cuts them together with some title cards and romantic music to give us their official wedding video. A neat piece…but don’t look for anything funny…it is all played very serious here.

Overall
The American Pie movies have proven themselves to be a great success, not only for the actors and actresses, but certainly for Universal Studios as well. This last piece of the pie is very satisfying for those who enjoyed the first two. It does not pretend to be a cinematic masterpiece like Citizen Kane or even a comedy blockbuster like Ghostbusters. Yet, it has garnered enough fans and support to produce three movies, and, if the actors and production team were so inclined, probably even more. We are lead to believe this will be the last of the pie movies, and as such, it is a fitting and satisfying end to our meal.


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