Van Wilder (2002)

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The start of a trilogy of films, this raunchy comedy would become the breakout of a young star who would later become a “merc with a mouth”.

Not knowing what he wants to do with his life, Van Wilder has become the toast of Coolidge College, having been a student there for seven years. Having studied virtually everything, he has become friends with practically the entire student body, helping those in need and also throwing some fun parties. However, things are about to change when his father has grown tired of paying for his son’s tuition when he has learned that it’s been seven years with no degree.

Van has become the focus of a story by up-and-coming journalism major Gwendolyn Pierce, whose boyfriend Richard is the head of the fraternity Delta Iota Kappa. When Van slowly begins to fall for Gwen, at first she is not impressed. However, as Van finds his way to pay his tuition by throwing parties for members of the student body, Gwen slowly begins to become impressed and even goes as far as having feelings for him, much to the chagrin of Richard. When Van gets himself in a bind, he realizes that there is one solution for him to prevent himself from getting expelled, and learns that even if he is the popular one, he won’t be able to do it alone.

With the success of the American Pie franchise, which resurrected the teen comedy to a whole new level, this college comedy would be not only funny in its content and interesting story, but it would become the breakout role for Ryan Reynolds, who would basically become immortal in 2016 with his role of the “Merc with the Mouth” known as Deadpool. The humor he brings to that superhero film began with this very film.

Reynolds is perfect in the titular role of the seven-year student Van, who finds himself in a major bind when his father cuts him off. Having various ideas as to raising tuition he goes from seducing the secretary of the dean to bringing a new idea to tutoring before a miracle ensues in the form of throwing various parties for the eclectic student body. Aside from Reynolds, another breakout actor is Kal Penn, who plays Taj, Van’s new assistant from India. He has a dream and knows that Van is the key to achieving that dream, to both good and funny effects. As a matter of fact, Penn’s Taj proved to be so popular that he would become the star of his own film, which would be the sequel to this film.

Tara Reid, who prior to this would be known as Vicky in the American Pie films, attempts to play it straight and does so in the role of Gwen, a fourth-year journalism major who is chosen to write a story on our hero only to end up falling for the guy and surprisingly, their chemistry is reminiscent of some classic romance stories that start with boy meets girl, boy likes girl but girl can’t stand him only to later see the good in him and then yes, fall for him.

Meanwhile, Daniel Cosgrove’s Richard, who heads Dealta Iota Kappa, which in turn is a true double entendre on both name and frat, gets himself in not, but two hysterically gross-out scenes, including some new eclairs delivered to the frat and what fans will call the “revenge” scene when he nearly gets Van expelled. Veterans Tim Matheson, Paul Gleason, and Curtis Armstrong provide some good support in their respective roles of Van’s father, a teacher who sees potential in Van, and the school security guard.

Aside from the aforementioned sequel that would focus on Taj, a prequel with Jonathan Bennett as Van entitled Van Wilder: Freshman Year was released in 2009.

It all began for both Coolidge College’s resident bad boy and Ryan Reynolds with Van Wilder. It may have some raunchy and gross-out humor, but this is still a funny movie!

WFG RATING: B+

Lionsgate Films present a Myriad Pictures production in association with Tapestry Films. Director: Walt Becker. Producers: Robert L. Levy, Jonathan Komack Martin, Andrew Panay, and Peter Abrams. Writers: Brent Goldberg and David T. Wagner. Cinematography: James Bagdonas. Editing: Dennis M. Hill.

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid, Tim Matheson, Kal Penn, Teck Holmes, Daniel Cosgrove, Deon Richmond, Alex Burns, Emily Rutherfurd, Paul Gleason, Erik Estrada, Curtis Armstrong, Jason Winer, Chris Owen, Aaron Paul, Ivana Bozilovic.

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