In his first few scenes, the character feels forced, as though screenwriter Adam Herz feels pressured to outdo his previous gross-outings. (Yes, Stifler swallows something even worse this time in a scene even more disturbing because he has to do it on purpose.) But eventually Herz taps into magic by flipping the formula on its head: First, he deposits his signature character into a gay bar, where he throws down the challenge for a dance-off. Then, when he overhears that Michelle's hot younger sister Cadence (January Jones) is looking for a "decent guy," he adopts the intellectual mannerisms of his friend Finch, forcing the sophisticate to turn, well, Stifler.
There are other side-stories about Jim feeling unworthy of his bride-to-be and Michelle unable to compose her wedding vows, but the arc of "American Wedding" is Stifler's: In the end he has to prove what a good friend he really is and, by doing so, get the girl. It's this sweetness that has characterized all three "Pies."
Unfortunately, there's not a lot for the rest of the crew to do. Thomas has a few choice scenes as Stifler's foil, but the rivalry is underwritten, and Nicholas' role is virtually non-existent. Eugene Levy is brilliant as always as Jim's Dad, and gets his due in the film's final moments, but franchise latecomer Fred Willard, cast likely to attract more mature comedy fans looking forward to a reunion with "Waiting for Guffman"/"Best in Show"/"Mighty Wind" co-star Levy, is grossly underused. Likewise, one of the film's plots involving Jim's disgruntled grandma feels like it's been doctored to diminish the gross-out factor ever so slightly and, ironically, soften Stifler. Starring Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Alyson Hannigan, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, January Jones, Eugene Levy and Fred Willard. Directed by Jesse Dylan. Written by Adam Herz. Produced by Warren Zide, Craig Perry, Chris Moore, Adam Herz and Chris Bender. A Universal release. Comedy. Rated R for sexual content, language and crude humor. Running time: 97 min.