You’re about as likely to find Stifler (Seann William Scott) competing in a dance contest at a gay bar as you are to locate any substantial theme or moral amidst the raucous, salacious humor of the “American Pie” series. Well – surprise, surprise – you’ll find both in the saga’s finale, “American Wedding.”

Perhaps to say that “American Wedding” contains veritable moral truths is an overstatement; nonetheless, it approaches the topic of love in a generally more tasteful manner than its predecessors. Now this may simply be a necessary phenomenon as all the characters are several years older, more mature and with college under their belts – excluding Stifler – but the cast comes across as more endearing in this film than in the first two.

Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) – the self-proclaimed pervert and nymphomaniac, respectively, and groom and bride to-be – are much more palatable as an engaged couple than they were in their high school days of masturbation-crazed angst and band-geekiness. Also, the relationship between them and their parents pulls viewers more closely to the family than in the past.

This adds levity to the humor that seems to be perpetually damned to the gutter. Eugene Levy’s character (Jim’s dad) pours forth more sagacious fatherly advice than in the previous two films, and Fred Willard’s wit is usefully employed through Michelle’s father in scenes like the wedding dinner whereupon he mispronounces a Hebrew blessing for their family.

In addition to those individual performances, many scenes evoke laughter without relying on the base physical humor that typifies the series. Seeing Jim and Stifler dance and Stifler respecting propriety to win over Cadence’s (Michelle’s younger sister) heart provide just as much – if not more – humor than the traditional gags.

In light of the more maturely written and acted parts with which it’s juxtaposed, much of the lowbrow humor seems foolish and forced. The pubic hair dusting of the kitchen, amongst other scenes, could have been easily omitted without risking any serious damage to the movie.

This is not to ward off fans of the “American Pie” tradition, though. For if hearing Stifler’s aural onslaught or watching people drink sperm-laced beer or eat turds masquerading as chocolate tortes tickles your fancy, then you’ll certainly get your money’s worth. However, if you really do yearn for something more and see potential for it in this concluding effort, you may just leave wondering what could have been.

Rating: 3 stars.

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