2002. Tagline: Don't graduate. Celebrate.
Personnel, courtesy imdb
Director: Walt Becker
Brent Goldberg and David T. Wagner
.... Van Wilder
Kal Penn .... Taj
.... Vance Wilder Sr.
Kim Smith (VII) .... Casey
Daniel Cosgrove .... Richard Bagg
Tom Everett Scott
.... Elliot Grebb
Chris Owen (I) .... Timmy, (The Jumper)
Teck Holmes .... Hutch
.... Campus Cop
Emily Rutherfurd .... Jeannie Jacobs
The premise: Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) likes college. He likes it a lot.
The conflict: His estranged father (Tim Matheson), on learning that Van's been in school for seven undergraduate years, stops payment on his tuition check. In doing so, he threatens the very lifestyle Van holds dear.
But you can't keep Van Wilder down. Oh no. He is as effervescent as your choice of cheap American beer, and does he ever tap the metaphorical keg. (So to speak.) With a couple of charming ethnic stereotypes backing him up (the token black guy plus Wilder's charming assistant, an exchange student who wants to participate in "the great American sport of muff diving" before returning to India), Van goes into business as a party planner of sorts. Not the Martha Stewart kind who tell you what kind of tables to rent and Japanese lanterns to buy, mind you. Oh no. It's more that where Van Wilder goes, parties follow. And a college film is born.
Complicating the whole scenario is the fact that girl reporter Gwen (Tara Reid) is trying to earn her star at the school newspaper, and her socially relevant stories are repeatedly ignored by the student body. At the insistence of her editor (the very delicious Tom Everrett Scott), she decides to write a human interest piece on Van. "I'd love to see your piece on me," he says, his voice thick with college-movie innuendo. (Huh huh. He said "piece.")
Which begs the question: Why in hell did I go see this movie? Well. As a wise man once wrote, the real money's in dick and fart jokes. I take a purely academic interest in dick and fart jokes, and movies that perpetuate them. I gotta keep my finger on the pulse, you know.
For instance, remember the subplot in National Lampoon's Animal House involving Tom Hulce and an unconscious 13-year-old girl? People in movies are no longer allowed to fuck 13-year-old girls (thank you very much, Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996), but fortunately for all of us, those who fuck unconscious girls still have representation. See also Loser. (Well, don't go out of your way to do so, but you know.) And listen closely to Taj's speech near the end of this movie, in which he says something like, "You have friends who would do anything for you at the drop of a roofie." Huh huh. Huh huh. He said "roofie."
Other gems: the closest thing to a money shot I've seen in a mainstream film. OK, it's just a bunch of fratboys eating pastries; the sordid contents of said pastries are only implied, but affected me in a worse way than the final (real) scene in Pink Flamingos. The evil fraternity is of course the DIKs (Delta Iota Kappa); its most prominent member, Van's rival, is named Richarg Bagg (as in Dick Bagg). That's what I like to see. The sex scenes featuring Richard, a pre-med student, are hysterical. "Your vagina feels so good around my phallus! I'm ejaculating now!" he moans at the height of passion.
Despite some truly original gags, the film of course follows an absurd "opposites attract" formula (Tara Reid as an uppity intellectual - oooooh, good call); the love story culminates in a slow-mo montage where Gwen and Van, sitting apart, emote and realize how they really feel about each other. Awwww. See this with someone who appreciates heckling.
Tim Matheson, who y'all should remember from Animal House, was a lovely casting choice for Van Wilder's estranged, uptight father. Curtis Armstrong, who y'all should remember as Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, is also brilliant as a hapless campus cop. The script is by turns razor sharp, offensive, and absurdly stupid: a melange of styles to suit any palate. It's as bad as you've heard, and better. Two thumbs up.