Just in time to coincide with the theatrical release of the stunningly worthless National Lampoon Presents Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Tajis yet another 2-disc Special Edition of National Lampoon's Van Wilder, and let's just start out by looking back over the "National Lampoon" comedies that aren't called Animal House or Vacation:
Gold Diggers, Dorm Daze, Adam & Eve, Pledge This!, Barely Legal, Blackballed, Pucked... Ugh, I can't even continue. For a full list of the endlessly wretched series of National Lampoon flicks, click here.
So with the issue of quality control out of the way, we know what we're working with here: Low-minded and painfully obvious sex humor, with a specific focus on the inherent hilarity of dog balls, semen, and venereal diseases. Now, you can get as raunchy as you want and you won't hear any complaints from me, but here's a tip: Make your raunch funny! I know it's harder to write good jokes than it is rotten ones, but based on what's displayed in Van Wilder, it doesn't seem like the effort was even made.
Then again, the flick was profitable enough to yield not only a pointless sequel, but a brand-new 2-disc Special Edition DVD -- so maybe I'm just getting a little too old for this crap.
Nah, I still possess a sense of humor on par with a stoned 15-year-old, and still I found maybe three mild chuckles buried within the aggressively stupid morass that is Van Wilder -- and all of those jokes sprang from the glibly amusing lead performance by Ryan Reynolds. To say the guy's working with material beneath his talents would be a stunning understatement.
Yep, I consider myself a fan of Ryan Reynolds. The guy reminds me of what Chevy Chase used to be like when he was young, quick-witted, slick and sarcastically charming. Given some half-decent material, Reynolds makes for an entirely likeable screen presence, and the fact that he's able to wring a few half-hearted smirks from a movie this awful is a testament to the guy's talents. (Here's hoping his career does better than Chevy's did.)
Ah, so the "plot." Yes. Van Wilder is a 7th-year college senior who is so amazingly popular and adored that everyone on campus just loves the guy. Well, everyone but a smug, white-bread frat-boy and a humorless college professor (played by The Breakfast Club's Paul Gleason, which is kind of a shame because the late great character actor is given nothing to do in this flick besides glower and groan.) So when Van's dad (played with a stunning lack of irony by Animal House's Tim Matheson) cuts the kid off, the campus must band together to save Van's final semesters. Fortunately the guy is really great at throwing parties, which nets him enough cash to stay in school. That's pretty much it, only with a lot more dick jokes and shots of a bulldog's testicles.
Oh and the black hole of screen presence that is Tara Reid tags along with a brain-dead subplot about college newspapers and ham-fisted courting. It's even drearier than it sounds, trust me.
Other familiar faces who add nothing to the party are Kal Penn as an Indian guy who's funny because he says dirty things with a foreign accent, Curtis "Booger" Armstrong in a meaningless role, and Erik Estrada for no good reason.
Fans of the flick will be elated to learn that this new "unrated" edition comes with just under two minutes of newly-added material. Where the new stuff is hidden is a question for someone with enough strength (and free time) to discover it.
Video: Choose between anamorphic widescreen or full frame. Picture quality is fine; filmmaking quality is another story entirely.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0, with optional subtitles in English and Spanish.
We now live in a world that demanded a 2-disc unrated special edition of Van freakin' Wilder, and as much as that depresses me, my job is to dole out to supplemental specs. So here we go:
On disc 1 we get a Drunken Idiot Kommentary, which effectively proves my theory that the intentional misspelling of a word for comedic intent always yields the opposite result. Some unnamed knuckleheads propose a Van Wilder drinking game before yelling, "joking" and chuckling throughout the movie. Also on disc 1 is a collection of Lionsgate trailers.
Over on disc 2 we get a 16-minute featurette called Party Legends, Pledges and Bull-ies, in which numerous deluded filmmakers overrate this fiasco to a dizzying degree. Funnier than the entire film is when someone makes mention of Tara Reid's "marquee value." Ultimate College Party Guide is a worthless 5-minute piece in which the unibrowed dork from the movie gives you a bunch of stupid party tips.
Gwen-azuma's Revenge focuses on the one joke in the movie that deals mostly with feces. Awesome. And it runs eight minutes. Really. Write That Down offers a bunch of "highlights" from the screenplay. Testicles of the Animal Kingdom is a quiz in which you're asked to match various animal balls with their respective owners. (Or you could go play some Xbox.) Ported over from the previous Special Edition are nine deleted scenes, a music video, Comedy Central's Reel Comedy promo special, an outtakes reel, and some Burly TV Specials, which are just more promotional fluff for a movie that frankly doesn't deserve much more promotion.
We've received a second "2-disc unrated" DVD of Van Wilder solely because Lionsgate now owns the old Artisan catalog and they're hoping to squeeze a few extra nickels out of the thing while the sequel flounders around the multiplexes for a few days. Don't be fooled.