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Van Wilder (2002)
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Review Date: February 28, 2002
Director: Walt Becker
Writer: Brent Goldberg, David Wagner
Producers: Peter Abrams
Actors:
Ryan Reynolds
Tara Reid
Kal Penn
Plot:
Van Wilder is a hip college student who never seems to graduate. After seven years of university life, his rich father decides to cut off his automatic tuition payments, leaving Van to his own devices. At the same time, a sexy newspaper reporter attempts to write an article on the "real man". Pissed off frat boys, tits and ass, and college hi-jinx...ensue.
Critique:
Someone in Hollywood must've sent out a memo promising "hit movies" for anything set in college with naked chicks, an ANIMAL HOUSE-feel and zany frat boys, since both SLACKERS and SORORITY BOYS preceded this film to theatres this year, but unfortunately, both sucked and tanked at the box-office. Is this movie as crappy? Surprisingly, no! It does however feature a number of standard "gross" scenes to uphold the AMERICAN PIE tradition (although didn't that trend die already?), but as opposed to the two former films, it also includes some laughs. And even more importantly, it contains the one ingredient essential to the success of any film: a solid lead. The character of Van Wilder, played with mucho zest and obvious delight by Ryan Reynolds, comes across as the modern-day version of FERRIS BUELLER (with a little bit of Max Fisher from RUSHMORE tossed in for fun) and absolutely saves this movie from being checked off as yet another ANIMAL HOUSE wannabe (which it is as well). He's charming, he's charismatic, he's quick with the one-liners and he's as cool as cool can be (is he Jason Lee?). His range also appeals to both sexes with all women wanting to date the slick dude, and all men, wanting to hang with him. And it's his fun, appealing attitude that kept me watching despite the film's overall retread feel and unoriginal plot points. Certain scenes like the fat man jumping off the diving board, the law student pretending to be Johnny Cochrane and the horny dude slipping-and-sliding off a naked big-boobed chick, just felt tired and dated to me.

Also, even though most of the stuff with Van was fun, every time the stiff (but still quite hot) Tara Reid hit the screen, it was like we were suddenly switched over to another movie, with a serious, roving, mucho-tanned reporter going for her story. Lighten up, girlie-girl...it's a college frathouse flick, after all. I also didn't think that there was much chemistry between the two, although Wilder's assistant in the film, played delectably by Kal Penn, did ignite some vibes with the hipster. Not sure what that means, but I wanted to see more of Taj and less of Tara. Having said that, the multitude of slinky outfits which Reid donned in the film were appreciated, and the gratuitous T&A shots throughout were also quite "uplifting" (not by Reid, but other lovely ladies). As for the plot, there really isn't much to talk about until the very end, when they actually try and get a little "serious" and drive a message home, but by that point, I just wanted things to wrap up (there were also way too many "happy endings" for reality's sake). I will admit that the guy shitting his ass out did still manage to crack me up though despite having seen it done in a million other movies before and the scene involving the dog semen (you'll know what I'm talking about when/if you see it) was really, really...and I mean, really disgusting! The film on the whole though wasn't entirely ambitious, but if you're looking for yet another mindless college flick with a number of laughs and a captivating lead, you can certainly do much worse than this movie. I will however admit to getting pretty damn tired of these same types of movies and I hope that this will be it for some time.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian
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