Volume 95, Issue 97

Tuesday, April 9, 2002
 
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ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Van Wilder ain't no Animal House

You'll scream for Oliver!

Puttin' "compact" back in discs

Porn o' Plenty

A&E's Top 5 Restaurants of 2001-2002

Shits and Giggles

A&E: Leaving the last word to a song

Van Wilder ain't no Animal House

National Lampoon's Van Wilder

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid, Kal Penn, Teck Holmes, Daniel Cosgrove, Tim Matheson

Directed By: Walt Becker

Three stars (out of five)
 


By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff


Almost 25 years after producing Animal House, the National Lampoon franchise is back with Van Wilder, another movie about wild and crazy college life.

Although Wilder is nowhere near as good as its predecessor, it has a few genuinely funny moments before becoming bogged down with the clichés of every other recent teen movie.

Clueless parents? Check. Gratuitous nudity? Check. A stuck-up fraternity full of preppies? Check. A scene where some poor chump unwittingly ingests semen? Check.

One thing that Wilder does have going for it is that it contains more jokes about a bulldog's grotesquely enlarged testicles than any other movie in history – take that, Citizen Kane!

The film chronicles the life of Coolidge College super-senior Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds), who is such a big man on campus that students line up by the dozens to audition to be his executive assistant – a job that eventually goes to Taj (Kal Penn), a sexually-frustrated foreign exchange student.

A crisis arises when Van's father (Tim Matheson), who quite reasonably expects his son to have earned a degree after seven years of school, stops payment on Van's tuition. Van is then forced to figure out how to pay for the rest of the school year and, thus, hires himself out as a party planner.

His adventures attract the attention of the student paper editor (Tom Everett Scott), who assigns his star reporter Gwen (Tara Reid) to get the inside story on Van. As Van and Gwen become closer, it raises the ire of Gwen's pre-med boyfriend (Daniel Cosgrove), who is the leader of the Delta Iota Kappa (DIK) fraternity.

The best thing about this film is Wilder himself, who, beneath his hell-raising reputation, is a genuinely nice guy. His crazy antics all have a positive ulterior motive, whether it be fundraising for charity or just trying to help a bunch of geeks get laid.

Ryan Reynolds makes the wise choice of playing Van as easy-going and laidback, which makes his jokes seem even funnier.

The other performances are good enough, considering that the actors had little to work with in such stereotypical roles. Tara Reid manages to stand there and look pretty, thus accomplishing the task for which she was hired.

Daniel Cosgrove has some fun with his role as Richard the DIK, making him such an over-the-top, smarmy bastard that the audience wants to see him pay (and man, does he ever).

There is something ironic about the fact that Tim Matheson – one of the stars of Animal House – also appears in Wilder as Van's uptight father. It can be said that Van Wilder is the child of Animal House and while the kid shows some potential, it's unfortunately still a long way off from filling the shoes of his old man.


To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department:
gazette.entertainment@uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 2002