American Pie: The Wedding (American Wedding) (2003)

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Released 19-Jan-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Introduction-Adam Herz (Writer / Producer)
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Featurette-Stifler Speak
Featurette-Enter The Dominatrix: Inside The Bachelor Party
Audio Commentary-Jesse Dylan (Director) and Seann William Scott (Actor)
Audio Commentary-Actors
Featurette-Grooming The Groom
Featurette-Cheesy Wedding Video
Featurette-Nikki's Hollywood Journal
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 99:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jesse Dylan
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jason Biggs
Seann William Scott
Alyson Hannigan
Eddie Kaye Thomas
Thomas Ian Nicholas
January Jones
Eugene Levy
Molly Cheek
Deborah Rush
Fred Willard
Angela Paton
Eric Allan Kramer
Amanda Swisten
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Christophe Beck
Andrew Dorfman
Damon Gough


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    When I looked at American Pie 2 back in April of 2002, I finished by musing on a couple of points. Firstly was whether or not a sequel would or should be made - the conclusion being that after the enormous box-office windfall of Pie 2 the likelihood of a third movie in the series was rather good, while personally I thought it would only be worthwhile if Alyson Hannigan was in every scene. The first part turned out to be exactly correct, while the second was pretty much close enough, as Hannigan is now the leading lady of this franchise. The second point of musing was whether the producers would succeed in pulling off their incredible feat of re-uniting the entire 11-strong major cast for a third time. As we now know, that didn't happen, but you would never notice. There is an interesting comparison to draw between those who did and didn't return - of the male characters, only Oz (Chris Klein) did not return, while of the women only Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) did return. Fortunately with all that is going on here, and with the new characters, you don't at all miss Oz, Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), Jessica (Natasha Lyonne), Vicky (Tara Reid), or Heather (Mena Suvari). This is not all that surprising when the structure of Pie 2 is considered, in that all the girls bar Michelle were really only minor characters (in fact Heather was seen for only a minute or two of screen time), while the strait-laced Oz was always overshadowed by his more outrageous companions.

    This third instalment in the Pie series (interestingly enough entitled simply American Wedding in the US, rather than the longer American Pie: The Wedding used virtually everywhere else) is set three years down the track from the second film. This catches us up to "real time" as the second film, while released two years after the first was only set one year later. The story is ostensibly about the wedding of Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle, but as with any other Pie film, this is merely an excuse to run from one joke to the next, with the obvious hook of the bachelor party to fulfil the movie's nudity quota. There have been some new characters added to fill the holes left by the no-shows, most notable of these being Michelle's parents Mary (Deborah Rush) and Harold (Fred Willard), her sister Cadence (January Jones in what is possibly her most mature role yet), and the somewhat effeminate Bear (Eric Allan Kramer). Of these Bear is the only one to generate any real comic interest, as Michelle's parents are far too clichéd (that is - stuck up) to be particularly amusing, while the entire purpose for Cadence is to be the object of desire for both Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Stiffler (Seann William Scott).

    When the story is not covering Jim and Michelle's wedding, it is pausing to allow Stiffler to, well, be Stiffler. As much as the official focus of this film is the wedding, the real comedic drive is the amped up antics of Steve Stiffler. This is not the character remembered from the first two films - it is the essence of that character taken and distilled until it is many times as pure, then placed on steroids - essentially it is just a license for Seann William Scott to try anything and everything to get a laugh, and scarily enough it works most of the time. The film's major comedic highlights are all provided by Stiffler, from the gay-club dance off (pretty much the funniest thing in film this year) to the "chocolate truffle" sequence, Scott demonstrates a combination of physical comedy and pitch-perfect delivery that will leave you in stitches.

    By the time the film is winding to an end however, it is time for the wedding to progress, and unlike many other films of this nature, the very emotional wedding scenes are pulled off with the perfect blend of comedy and respect for the characters. This works for the most part because these are characters we have come to know over the passage of four years and three films. The very fact that this is the third time we visit them makes it all the more like it is catching up with old friends - you tell the funny stories, and then you enjoy each other's successes, which in this case is getting married. Even the least romantic person will be hard-pressed to keep a smile off their faces (and not from laughing) during the bridal waltz (which, interestingly enough, also acts as a callback to Pie 2 and the party dance).

    Tonally, this film is almost identical to the second instalment in the series. While the first movie was "get laid now", the second and third have had more mature themes, focusing on love and finding your place in the world. By marrying off the lead characters from the second film, the series grows up just like its audience has. The original mid-to-late teens that watched the first movie in late high-school or early uni have now moved on. They are now in their early-to-mid twenties, already with jobs, or at the very least contemplating their future. Like the characters in this film many are starting to think of what they are going to do with their lives - it is no longer about partying and getting laid, it is about finding someone special. This sort of film will always have a very close connection to its audience - just as some of the classic teen comedies from the '80s have left an indelible impression on those who experienced them at the right time in their lives, American Pie and its sequels will be remembered by a new generation as the films they grew up with.

    So - to the musings that completed my review of Pie 2 - should there be a sequel and if so which cast members will be involved? Well, as American Pie: The Wedding was not quite as spectacular in terms of box office as its predecessor, a sequel is not guaranteed. That isn't to say it wasn't successful - it still raked in over $US100 million in the US alone - but the diminishing returns will probably cause some to wonder. Personally, as with the second film, I really don't see where they could take a fourth Pie film (excluding the sequel made 20 years from now with the children of the characters all coming together). The romantic conflict between Jim and Michelle has effectively been ended by their wedding, and while making a Pie film without them would probably succeed it would lose its heart. On the other hand, dropping Kevin would be no loss, while all the new characters are just that - new - so would not necessarily be all that useful to another film. Having said that, if the money men decide there is enough room, no doubt a fourth movie will be made and we will get to see how life treats these characters. Maybe the next one will be the high-school reunion version?

    As a final note, the version of the film we have here is what is known as the "unrated" cut in the US (where films can actually be released without passing a censor first). This differs from the theatrical version of the film shown here (which was the same as the US theatrical version) by around 7 minutes. Most of this is at the bachelor party - this time we get more nudity, more dirty talk, and generally more gags (most of which fall flat, but there is one pearler worth the extra chaff). In addition, scenes have been added throughout the movie, reintroducing gags, and expanding character arcs. For the most part they are an improvement. The only downside (if you care about it anyway), is that the original theatrical version of this film is not available (at least here in Australia).

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer presented for American Pie: The Wedding is very disappointing, but only for two reasons - contrast balance and shadow detail. If not for those two issues it would be excellent.

    Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced. Note that this is a change from the first two films that were both shot at 1.85:1 - possibly a further metaphor for the maturing of the characters and the story.

    Sharpness is quite good, displaying a pleasing amount of fine detail. Despite that, the image is still quite smooth, making for a very film-like effect. There is almost no grain present, with only a very occasional area of background making any visible at all. The real let-down however is shadow detail. It is extremely poor, with every scene taking place in anything but bright light being affected. Vast areas of screen disappear into impenetrable murkiness, giving the feeling that the film is being watched with dark glasses on. It removes almost all depth from the image, making it look very flat, and not at all pleasant to watch. For a brand new film this is a disgrace, and hopefully not one caused by the desire to get it to market quickly following the theatrical release. There is no low level noise present.

    Colours are also a major problem. It is quite possible these were affected by the very poor shadow detail, but it is as if in an attempt to overcome the shadow problem, colours were simply boosted. The results are that lighter colours are very often (especially in scenes with a good number of shadows) blown out, bringing what is almost certainly a very unintentional look to the film. Hopefully this transfer will be re-visited again in the future, because it would be a shame for this representation to be the one remembered through time.

    Compression artefacts are non-existent, and there is not one blemish on the print to be found. Aliasing is also kept to a minimum, with only a few obvious subjects causing problems, such as the grille of the bus at 8:58, the benches in the gym from 38:45 to 38:54, and Stiffler's shirt from 55:27 onwards. Fortunately, none of these are major, and cause little distraction. There is also a fair amount of edge enhancement, but in rather fluctuating doses - some scenes really dial it up, while in others it is non-existent. This will annoy those with large projection displays, and at times is even obvious on TVs.

    The subtitles are close to word-for-word accurate, and never miss a beat. They carry the humour as well as can be hoped (where intonation is important, they try gallantly, but usually fail), are well paced, and attractively rendered.

    This is a dual layered disc with the layer change taking place at 72:27 during Chapter 18. It is reasonably well placed, although still obvious due to the audio drop-out.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Unlike the video, the audio transfer has no flaws, however its relatively sedate delivery can only be described as average, leveraging very little of the potential of a surround soundtrack.

    There are three audio tracks present on this disc. The first is the original English dialogue, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 384Kbps), with the other two tracks being English audio commentaries in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (both at 192Kbps).

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. There are never any issues whether it be from Foley effects, score or other characters.

    Audio sync is unfortunately a different matter. There are a number of occasions where it seems to be ever-so-slightly out. Those sensitive to this sort of thing will find it a little off-putting, but it is close enough to normal that most will never notice it.

    The music provided for this movie comes in two flavours - the score provided by Christophe Beck, and a (very) large number of contemporary songs. There really isn't all that much work for the score here - it is simply filling the gaps between the "real" songs, more than the other way around. When it is present, it is cleverly composed so as to sound not too dissimilar to the songs it is bridging, never really drawing the audience's attention to it, but allowing them to enjoy the songs. The songs themselves are also considerably more effective here than in many other movies that use a similar amount of contemporary music. They drive the story as much as the score, and have been chosen to fit well with those used during the original American Pie, despite the major change in prevailing popular music tastes since that movie's release (over four years ago now!).

    While this is technically a surround soundtrack, it seems someone forgot to remind the sound engineers, as the surround channels sit dormant for virtually the entire length of the movie, only coming to life for a very brief bit of ambient surround sound with a bare few seconds to run in the film. A very disappointing effort.

    Thankfully the subwoofer receives a larger dose of care, although this track is by no means going to set any bass-usage records. The subwoofer fortifies most of the songs and some score, meaning it is active for a large portion of the movie, but in a way that never threatens to knock walls down.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    As is almost expected by now for a Pie film, the selection of extras presented is extensive. For this third film they are somewhat reduced in number, but as a result more focused and far more interesting - there are no quotes or "favourite scene" sections to be found here, only true featurettes and behind the scenes interviews and footage. Probably the only thing missing here is a commentary from writer Adam Herz. It is quite obvious that he is the force behind these films, and to not hear from him is quite disappointing. Unfortunately the smaller number of extras does give rise to speculation that the other types of extras (and maybe a couple more commentaries) are being held back for a future release - or maybe the studio executives have simply realised this type of film doesn't need four separate commentary tracks?

Menu

    The menu is 16x9 enhanced, and themed around the film. It features animated introductions and transitions but for the rest is static and silent. Annoyingly it is one of those menus that features time-outs. If you don't select a sub-menu item in time it will take you back to the main menu, then if you don't select a main menu item in time it will start the movie. Very frustrating.

Deleted Scenes (22:10)

    This section presents 12 deleted scenes, all with introductions from either writer/producer Adam Herz or actor Seann William Scott. Once again, it is easy to see from this that the introduction method of presenting deleted scenes is far more watchable than the optional commentary. The scenes presented here range from additional jokes to character development, and explanations for some of the major plot-holes (and for why the film progresses virtually straight from engagement to wedding). Most would not have been out of place back in the film, although the four and a bit minutes of Seann William Scott making out with a blow-up doll is quite disturbing and not something that most will enjoy watching. The scenes are 2.35:1 but not 16x9 enhanced (the introductions are 1.33:1), and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Outtakes (6:07)

    This is basically six minutes of goofing off, flubbed lines, and a lot of extra swearing. Sometimes amusing, sometimes embarrassing, and sometimes boring, it is still worth watching. Presented at 2.35:1 (with an annoying "Outtake" banner across the bottom the entire time - just for those who forgot which menu option they selected), not 16x9 enhanced and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Featurette - Stiffler Speak (7:16)

    This featurette looks at how writer Adam Herz and actor Seann William Scott approach the dialogue of Stiffler. It is quite an interesting look at how a character is created, and well worth watching. Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Featurette - Enter The Dominatrix: Inside The Bachelor Party (9:48)

    A look behind the scenes during the filming of the bachelor party, "hosted" by actress Nikki Schieler Ziering (Officer Crystal), whose breasts are probably more well known to this film's audience than her face. At almost ten minutes, this runs slightly too long, but for the most part actually covers details about production, and an amusing look at the prop-list from the shoot - as well as some clips that were shot but not included as deleted scenes or re-cut back into this "unrated" version of the film. Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Audio Commentary - Jesse Dylan (Director) and Seann William Scott (Actor)

    This commentary is not bad. There are a few too many gaps, and it seems that director Jesse Dylan is almost hero worshipping Scott, but the two cover quite a comprehensive range of subjects. It is particularly interesting towards the end where Dylan prompts Scott about his thoughts on the series as a whole, and the effort that he has put into the character of Stiffler becomes apparent.

Audio Commentary - Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Thomas Ian Nicholas (Actors)

    This commentary is a total waste of time. Early on the four participants reveal that they have not actually seen the movie in its entirety until the recording session, which results in many large gaps as they simply sit back and admire their own work. The men in particular come across as juvenile and spoiled (Eddie Kay Thomas's biggest revelation is that he spent a majority of the shoot drunk, and he seems to be proud of it), while Alyson Hannigan switches between useless comments as to what is on screen ("Doggies!") to vain attempts at trying to focus the men into making more useful comments. To be fair to her, she is quite overwhelmed here by the men (and in facts comments at one point that she wishes January Jones was present so she didn't have to be the only girl), and does seem a little frustrated with their behaviour. All in all, this commentary should be removed from the disc completely.

Featurette - Grooming The Groom (6:35)

    A behind the scenes look at - of all scenes - the pubic hair shaving scene. Actually more interesting and less gruesome than it sounds, the amount of technical effort required to pull off a simple scene of Jason Biggs shaving his pubic region is rather scary. Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Cheesy Wedding Video (3:00)

    Shot and edited in the form of a "real" wedding video this is runs like an excerpt from any number of wedding videos out there, only this time it's for the wedding of two fictitious characters. Why it was made I'm not sure, but the romantics will probably get a kick out of it (okay, so it had me smiling too...) Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Featurette - Nikki's Hollywood Journal (9:55)

    This featurette is a "day in the life" of Nikki Schieler Ziering (a.k.a. bachelor party stripper Officer Crystal) as she prepares for the premiere of the film. Not particularly interesting, it does however give us the unique opportunity to see Ziering with her clothes on. Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc is to be released in not one, not two, not even three or four, but five different flavours - Rated (widescreen and "standard"), Unrated (widescreen and "standard"), and as a "gift set". The Region 4 version is the equivalent of the Region 1 "Unrated" (in fact our menus still say "unrated" even though distributing video content in Australia without first letting the censors have their say is illegal) widescreen edition. As the Region 1 version is not due out until the new year, preview reviews have yet to appear, but based on preliminary specs, it should be similar, possibly lacking only a "script-to-screen" feature and seamless branching to view the US theatrical cut. When the disc is released in the US and details are available, this section will be updated.

Summary

    American Pie: The Wedding is a fitting "conclusion" to the adventures of Jim, Michelle, Stiffler, and the gang. These characters have been with us for four years now, and each time they have appeared on screen they have grown up just a little - not unlike the film's audience. A funny comedy, more in the vein of the second movie, that easily incorporates the emotional wedding scenes, leaving fans beaming from ear-to-ear, and wanting more.

    The video quality is extremely disappointing. The shadow detail is terrible, and possibly in an effort to combat this problem the colour has been boosted on scenes with much in the way of shadow, which only leads to a very unnatural contrast between burnt out colours and murky dark patches.

    The audio is merely serviceable - this really sounds more like a stereo soundtrack than a surround soundtrack.

    The extras are still extensive - if not as many as for the previous entries in this series - but this time they are of a higher quality, and are worth the time to investigate (well, apart from the totally useless cast commentary).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Monday, December 15, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-555K, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersRochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)

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