National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002)
April 23, 2024 12:57 PM - Subscribe

The most popular kid on campus meets a beautiful journalist who makes him realize that maybe he's afraid to graduate.

He's the biggest man on campus. He's the boss with the sauce. He's the guy all the girls want and all the guys want to be. 'Cause in the collegiate jungle, there can be only one king ... and at Coolidge College it's Van Wilder. In the grand tradition of comedy classics like "National Lampoon's Animal House" and "National Lampoon's Vacation," "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" will charm you, move you and gross you out.

Danielle Solzman: All good things, as they say, must finally come to an end. Things get wildly out of hand for the younger Wilder to the point in which he finds himself sitting before a university panel. Much to everyone’s surprise, it’s Professor McDougal (Paul Gleason) who casts the deciding vote in Van’s favor. Instead of being expelled from school, Van is forced to graduate by obtaining the remaining 18 credits needed in order to do so.

As comedy receptors evolve over time, some films don’t especially hold up as when they were released. This is more or less the case for Van Wilder. Whatever laughs that were in this film when it first graced the big screen in 2002 just aren’t there today. This isn’t to take anything away from the performances. It’s more so a testament to the types of films that are able stand the test of time.

Heather Wadowski: Since majority of “Van Wilder” focuses on Van, it’s important that Reynolds (“Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place”) can keep an audience’s interest. Luckily, he was born for the part. Those who enjoyed Jim Carrey’s performance in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” will instantly fall in love with Reynolds’ portrayal of Van. His performance is engaging, funny and heartfelt, and viewers will find it hard to take their eyes off of him. Reynolds talent and charisma shines in the role, and whether “Van Wilder” is a success or not one can only hope that his performance will open up as many doors for him in Hollywood as lesser talented, Freddie Prinze, Jr.-type stars have received in recent years.

Christy Lemire: It doesn't come close to the hilarity of the best movies to carry the National Lampoon banner — 1978's "Animal House," which it aims to emulate, and the original "Vacation" from 1983.

It has all the obligatory gross-out jokes you'd expect. But for every stupid gag involving half-naked women or uncontrollable bodily functions, there's a clever, laugh-out-loud line that sneaks up on you.

And Ryan Reynolds, as eternal college student Van Wilder, is the main reason for the movie's sporadic success; he's charming enough to make the weaker material in Brent Goldberg and David T. Wagner's script bearable.

posted by Carillon (5 comments total)
If this works, Ryan Reynolds is definitely the reason why. It probably wouldn't work as well today, but I remember loving his whole character at the time. That said, woof the pranks are so gross.

Also, my first introduction to Kal Penn who I tend to really like. This wasn't his first role, but does seem to be his first big one. I think he's better in other films, but did enjoy his first major role.
posted by Carillon at 1:00 PM on April 23

I remember Reynolds' charisma really making me want to enjoy the movie, but it really felt just sort of ho hum when it came to college comedies. This was probably the first time that I realized that "National Lampoon" was not a guarantee of an enjoyable film or one that might be considered funny. The whole running bulldog joke was just dumb.
posted by Atreides at 1:43 PM on April 23

Recently I think I've been confusing this film in my head with Vanderpump Rules and that's made for some very confusing conversations.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:46 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]

I still want to know what happened with Johnny Lechner and college.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:27 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]

Hollywood really knew Reynolds was a star, but they needed like fifteen movies to figure out how to use him correctly.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:36 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]

« Older Movie: Destry Rides Again...   |  Shogun: A Dream of a Dream... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments