Lampoon Lowers an Already Low Standard with Wilder
- Wednesday, March 06, 2002
National Lampoon's Van Wilder - R
Best for: Mature teens and 20-somethings who enjoy gross-out comedies.
What it's about: Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) is on a 7-year plan at Coolidge College, with no desire to ever leave, when his dad (Tim Matheson) stops his tuition, forcing Van to get a job. The popular and infamous Van conspires with his friends (Kal Penn and Teck Holmes) to create various parties, projects, etc. to help him earn tuition so he can stay at the school. Van's reputation has become so legendary that the school newspaper editor assigns Gwen (Tara Reid) to interview Van and cover his every move. When Gwen's obnoxious boyfriend, Richard (Daniel Cosgrove), gets jealous of the time Gwen is spending with Van, he uses his status as president of a fraternity to try to destroy Van's popularity. Will Van be able to overcome Richard's efforts and stay in school, or is it time for him to grow up and move out into the real world?
The good: This is the kind of gross-out comedy National Lampoon is famous for, so it's a given that the storyline will be offensive and disgusting (and believe me, it is). I have to admit, there are some funny lines and comedic situations that work solely because of Reynolds' humorous portrayal and his unique delivery. His talent -- and not that of the one-dimensional Reid -- helps make the plot work.
The not-so-good: Van Wilder is filled with profanity, sexual content, bathroom humor and offensive behavior; in short -- the stuff some high-school and college kids find funny. The comedy involves harming or humiliating someone, or setting them up to be the butt of a joke. There is too much offensive, crude and rude material to list it all, but I'll give you some idea so you can warn your teenagers and adult friends just how bad it gets.
Offensive language and behavior: There is an abundant amount of profanity (a dozen "F"-words), scatological terms, slang and extremely crude language, as well as numerous religious exclamations. Various characters have bad attitudes, drink, use drugs, smoke marijuana and cigarettes. One scene shows grade-school children drinking alcohol and getting drunk. Gross-out behavior includes depictions of physical illness, the expelling of gas, kids vomiting on a school bus and loud flatulent noises and a disgusting scene that involves a bulldog and several pastries.
Sexual situations: Several scenes of students having sex with each other. Several scenes show male/female bottoms, breasts and lots of cleavage. Van goes into the women's locker room to talk to Gwen and passes girls in various stages of undressing.
Violence: Lots of pratfalls; during a fraternity hazing, a group of blindfolded young men are told to walk on glass; a woman is hit in the face by a locker door; and other pranks.
Parental advisory: Heed the "R" rating. There's no way you should let your older adolescents or younger teenagers see this movie. As I was walking into my theater, a group of young teenagers asked me if I would "be their mother" and get them in. I gave them the obvious "no" answer, then briefly suggested that there were better movies they could see. They, of course, moved on to the next unsuspecting adult, but it made me realize how many parents either don't care, or don't have a clue, about what their kids are going to see at the movies these days.
Bottom line: Van Wilder is too disgusting to be entertaining. Although there are admittedly a few funny scenes and some humorous dialogue, the rest of the movie is too gross and offensive for most adults and too disgusting to fill the minds of anyone under 17. Judging by the predominantly teen and college-age audience I saw it with, even they were appalled at just how low National Lampoon is willing to go.
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