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American Wedding

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
American Wedding
from Film Forum, 08/07/03

What do American Wedding and Masked and Anonymous have in common? Both films are getting bad reviews and both are in some way related to Bob Dylan. Masked stars the legendary singer-songwriter, who also co-wrote the movie.

This week, Bob's son Jesse Dylan, a director, delivers a movie that has drawn even worse reviews—the third installment in the crass American Pie series.

This popular comedy series has been a hit with adolescents (young and old) across America, so another sequel was sadly inevitable. But instead of improving a bad thing, the situation just gets worse.

Critics argue that anything admirable about what the movie has to say about love and marriage gets lost under the tide of locker room humor. Stars Jason Biggs, Eugene Levy, and the gang seem content to wallow in the muck of shock-value "comedy" that, being the norm of the series, is hardly shocking.

Michael Medved says, "Writer-producer Adam Herz might have connected to any number of issues and emotions: the mixed feelings of parents at their early-twenties offspring making a fateful decision, the sense of abandonment by free-spirited friends at one of their number tying the knot, the inevitable worries of an already nervous young man about building his career as a married man, or over the very notion of kinky, uninhibited sex as the sole basis for a lifetime commitment. Unfortunately, this new movie explores none of these potentially intriguing areas and instead expends its feeble energy on predictably 'shocking' gags."

Anne Navarro (Catholic News Service) says it "scrapes the bottom of the proverbial barrel for laughs, and what it comes up with is much of the same gunk found in the first two American Pie comedies."

Loren Eaton (Focus on the Family) says, "To say American Wedding dredges the depths of deviancy for material is generous. Bestiality, bondage, and public sex all get screen time. And while a few positive themes appear … they don't just get submerged, they get forcibly drowned by messages belittling virginity, sexual temperance, and the institution of marriage."

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) reports, "The sexual language and references are explicit. The nudity is gratuitous. The crudity is excessive. If such content offends, you're in the wrong theater. As with the earlier films, there's a tacked on moral message which, I supposed, is intended to excuse the 90 minutes of uninterrupted R-rated content."

Movieguide says, "American Wedding is a perfect example of the kind of movies we get when we remove all standards of decency and taste from popular culture. Of course, the filmmakers and the actors behind it all are laughing all the way to the bank, which proves the biblical aphorism that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil."

Mainstream critics turned in similarly unsympathetic reviews.

Meanwhile, the film easily took first place at the box office, bringing in $34.3 million over the weekend. Where were your kids on Saturday night?