I know he has done plenty of things earlier in his career but this is honestly my first introduction to Ryan Reynolds. I find it funny how many times me and my friends ended up quoting particular lines from this movie; primarily “Look at me. Pro.” and “Write that down.” I actually did not see this in theaters when it first came out but kept seeing it on TV when it made it to broadcast and wanting to watch the uncensored version, wound up buying it on DVD. So let’s have some fun with today’s movie, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder .
The plot: At Coolidge College, Van Wilder is in his 7th year and after helping deal with a freshman student that tries to kill himself, Van, along with his friend Hutch, start hosting interviews for his new assistant for the spring semester. After all of the interviews are done, they don’t see a single person they liked but as they are complaining in their dorm room, someone knocks on the door and the open it to reveal Taj Mahal Badalandabad, a foreign exchange student who hopes that being Van’s assistant will help him lose his virginity. After inspiring the basketball team to win the game by throwing a pajama party, Van is surprised to see his father show up. Having learned that Van has not graduated after 7 years, Van’s father has stopped payment on his tuition and plan to take him home but Van refuses to go. Meanwhile, Gwen Pearson is a journalist for the school paper and wants to write serious articles instead of fluff pieces that panders to the average student but after showing her that a Pulitzer Prize winning alumnus wrote those “fluff pieces”, the editor givers her an assignment to write a story about Van Wilder. Trying to figure out a way to come up with his tuition money, Van, Hutch, and Taj go to a strip club and while there, Van comes up with the idea of Topless Tutors to raise the money, which works for a while until the strip club manager puts a stop to it. As he is trying to come up with another way to make money, Panos Patakos, the president of the Lambda Omega Omega fraternity, shows up to ask for Van’s help in throwing a party and offers to Pay Van for his help. Meanwhile, Gwen had decided not to do the story on Van since every time she tried talking to him he tried to turn it into a date. When her editor insists on it, she has to skip a party at her boyfriend Richard’s fraternity, Delta Iota Kappa, to go to the party Van is throwing. At the party, Van introduces some girls to the Lambda guys, as well as puts in a good word for Taj with Naomi, when he sees Gwen and stops to talk to her. When Van is called away due to a problem at the front door, Gwen overhears Panos and another Lambda talking about them paying Van for the party. At the door, Van sees Richard and several other Delta’s trying to get in, but Hutch says they can’t because they are at capacity. When Gwen leaves, Van finds out that Richard is Gwen’s boyfriend and both of them are confused when Gwen thanks Van for the story. After writing the story about Van being a party liason, Gwen’s editor want her to do a follow up piece to be printed in the graduation edition. When Gwen tries talking to Van, he is upset about the article because he wanted to have the Lambdas take the credit for the party but because of the article, more people want to hire him to throw parties and he is able to make enough money for his tuition payments. Taj meets up with Naomi and tries to have sex with her but ends up accidentally setting some massage oil on his back on fire and inadvertently burning his room. As Van and Gwen start to get closer, Richard tries to humiliate Van by tricking him into coming to a dinner party at Gwen’s parent’s house but it only ends up making them get closer. Van decides to get back at Richard by sending some pastries to the Delta house but replacing the creme with semen from his pet bulldog, which Richard and the other Delta’s don’t learn about until after they start eating them and see the pictures Van left in the bottom of the basket. Gwen gets a hold of Van’s transcript and questions him about why he refuses to graduate since he is only 18 credits short and Van gets upset with her for prying into his life too much. After avoiding each other for a while, Van confronts Gwen in the women’s locker room and the two talk and reconcile, unaware that they are being observed by Jeannie, who is obsessed with Richard. Jeannie tells Richard what she overheard and Richard decides to mess with Van by hiring him to throw a bachelor party for himself and Gwen. When Van tries to call Gwen but is told she is at an engagement dinner, he ends up getting depressed and ends up making out with a freshman girl. Meanwhile, Gwen is with Richard at an engagement party for her sister when Richard tells her he talked to her parents about their getting married and has already planned out their next 10 years together. Gwen rejects his proposal and goes to tell Van how she feels and sees him with the girl. The two end up arguing while Richard watches from his car. Later, Van is hosting a party when Richard and Jeannie sabotage it by sneaking a bunch of kids inside and getting them drunk, causing Van to be arrested and expelled from school. Gwen turns in her story to the editor but when he says it isn’t finished since Van was expelled, Gwen goes to see Van but Hutch won’t let her in. Taj is in the archives and finds a way for Van to stay in school but Van is busy feeling sorry for himself, believing he has nothing to show for the last 7 years. Taj yells at Van to say how much good he has done for everyone and when he sees Hutch, Panos, and the rest of the dorm showing up with the same information so Van has someone get the law club to help with his appeal. During the appeal, a large group of students are outside protesting to let Van stay in school. Van admits to being responsible for the party but says that instead of expulsion, asks the board to force him to graduate at the end of the semester. The five member panel decides to vote and while Richard and another faculty member recommend expulsion, the three others, including Professor McDoogle, who has been critical of Van the entire time he has been there, suggest letting him stay. When Taj and Hutch announce to the crowd that Van is staying, the crowd cheers and Gwen cheers with them until she runs into Jeannie, who tells Gwen that Richard and her set Van up and then had sex afterwards. Gwen decides to get back at Richard by mixing a strong laxative into his protein shake before he goes to take his MCAT followed by a med school interview. As the test starts, Richard begins to constantly fart and ends up marking C on all of the multiple choice answers so he can leave and go to the bathroom. Before he makes it, he is met by the interview board and the proceed to start the interview and Richard ends up going to bathroom in a trash can right in front of them. Gwen rights her article about Van, including how he was set up by Richard, and everyone on campus ends up reading it. That night, a party is thrown for Van’s gradation and before he heads down to the party, Van is confronted by McDoogle, who tells him that he passed his final with a 91. At the party, Van is confronted by his father, who as sent a copy of the article by Gwen, and the two reconcile. Taj meets a girl who had just transferred from his homeland and is immediately smitten with her. When Gwen arrives at the party, Van goes to talk to her but Gwen quickly shuts him up by kissing him and the two embrace as the party continues.
National Lampoon’s Van Wilder met with negative reviews from the critics, only earning a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it’s, “A derivative gross-out comedy that’s short on laughs.” The movie was a box office success as it made over $38 million off of a $5 million budget. The movie would eventually spawn a sequel which starred Taj as well as a prequel that focused on Van Wilder’s freshman year before he became the party liason he is known for in this movie.
I think the problem with the critics of this movie might be a generational thing because this is a very funny movie. The acting was really good among the main characters and I liked the love triangle that was between Ryan Reynolds (Van), Tara Reid (Gwen), and Daniel Cosgrove (Richard). I also liked Kal Penn (Taj), as this movie kind of jump started his career, and thought it was funny to have Paul Gleason (McDoogle) being the same hard nosed educator that was very similar to his character in The Breakfast Club. The story was an interesting mix of different themes as you had the typical rom/com love triangle going as well as the usual crazy antics you would expect to see in this type of movie. The comedy was a little on the adult side but most of it was not too bad, with the exception of the pastry bit. That was a little much. Anyways, a very funny movie and one that always tends to make me laugh whenever I watch it.
Rating: 4 out of 5