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National Lampoon's Van Wilder

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: National Lampoon's Van Wilder

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid
Director: Walt Becker
Rated: R
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: April 2002
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Tom Everett Scott, Tim Matheson, Kal Penn, Daniel Cosgrove

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

"Don't be a fool," Van Wilder lectures. "Stay in school." A seventh-year undergraduate, he practices what he preaches in VAN WILDER, a.k.a. NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VAN WILDER, a teenage gross-out comedy with a sentimental side. As Van Wilder, a legendary BMOC with a cult-like following, Ryan Reynolds turns what would normally be a smutty role into a genuine sweetheart. The same cannot be said of the movie, which too often falls back on the same old tiresome ways to offend the audience into laughing. From a horny, ugly septuagenarian to the accidental consumption of bodily fluids, we've seen it all before and usually better. Given how often the film slips into neutral, you could think of it as AMERICAN PIE ON VALIUM.

When he isn't avoiding classes, Van Wilder has a busy schedule with his charitable causes. But when his rich papa, Vance Wilder Sr. (Tim Matheson), discovers how long his son has been in school, he cuts off the money spigot. This forces young Van to do what he has never had to do before, earn money to pay for his schooling.

It's no job at the local pizza parlor for Van. With his Tony Robbins persona, Van figures out entrepreneurial ways to generate cash. His first and funniest scheme is to hire out busty young women to be "topless tutors." With the answers written like flip cards on their bosoms, the girls inspire the guys to study hard. When this idea goes bust, Van, with the help of his assistant, Taj (Kal Penn), gets into the party planning business.

Trying to break up Van's party, local campus reporter Gwen (Tara Reid) wants to get the inside scoop on him. It's not easy getting beyond his laugh-a-minute demeanor -- "Her name's Naomi," he tells one eager male at a party, "that means 'I moan' backwards" -- but Gwen's determined to find the truth about Van. As the dumb blonde drummer in JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS, Reid was sweetly humorous, but here, she just seems lost. Director Walt Becker doesn't appear to have given her much guidance other than to look serious.

VAN WILDER isn't much of a movie, but every time you are ready to write it off entirely, it comes up with a small gag that works or a cute little line. It's not much, but it does make the hour and an hour more tolerable.

VAN WILDER runs 1:35. It is rated R for "strong sexual content, gross humor, language and some drug content" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

My son Jeffrey, almost 13, gave the film *. He said that there were a few funny things, but, overall, it was just a waste.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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