Van Wilder (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

aka National Lampoon's Van Wilder

National Lampoon? Fraternity humor? This is the Animal House for a new generation? I don't think so.

Mike McGranaghan of Aisle Seat got the connection exactly right:

"This is the kind of movie that Bluto, Otter, and the Delta House boys would have trashed a theater for showing."

Let me tell you about something on the DVD. They advertise "additional deleted topless tutor footage". The topless tutor concept within the movie is a Van Wilder idea to help guys study. If the guys get the question right, the girl strips. In my mind, the deleted scenes were going to be a treasure trove of gratuitous breasts. The actual footage? A male stripper taking it off for some gay guys (since breasts wouldn't work in that case).

Now if you understand the student comedy genre, I put this question to you. What if Bluto had read about the additional topless tutor footage, had popped it into his DVD player, prepared for entertainment, and had seen a gay stripper waving his John Henry. What would Bluto have done? I mean AFTER he threw his beer at the screen?

Remember, when Stephen Bishop sang "I Gave My Love a Cherry", Bluto broke his guitar.

A summary of this movie:

The humor: nothing but brainless gross-out humor like people shitting very loud.

The payoff: Van Wilder, the hero of the story, is actually a do-gooder who raises money for charity. At the end, everyone loves him, his dad tells him he's a great guy, he finds true love with the girl of his dreams, he gets straight A's in all his classes. As the Deltas would have said "Bullshit, bullshit, blowjob, blowjob".

And not only that, but John Vernon is working again, and these guys didn't hire him to be Dean Wormer! Wouldn't you have revised the script to make that happen?

The alleged plot:


There is an anonymous "topless tutor"

Ivana Bozilovic is topless in an extended pre-lovemaking scene

Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) is in his fourth senior year at Coolidge College, seventh year overall, but he's not planning on graduating any time soon. Why should he? He has clout, adoration, respect, babes, a personal assistant and loads of worship from staff and students alike. Life is good. Why change it by graduating? Unfortunately, his dad comes to the realization that he's been paying $40,000 per year for seven years, just so his kid can goof off. (The dad is played by Otter, from National Lampoon's first fraternity film, Animal House. Curtis Armstrong is also on hand to provide a link to the student comedies of another day.) 

Daddy Otter cuts off the tuition. Van then markets his greatest skill, and makes money by working as a party engineer.  People around campus pay him to plan and put on their soirees. He makes enough doing this that he can continue as a college student forever.

Meanwhile, the editor of the school newspaper assigns his crack journalist to write a story about Van, who is Coolidge's most famous and beloved student. The female reporter sees that beneath the callow exterior is a basic do-gooder, who helps people find their self-esteem, visits the sick, feeds the homeless, etc. "Bullshit, bullshit, blowjob, blowjob".

The stage is set. The journalist both loves him and hates him. The journalist's existing boyfriend, needless to say, is the snobby pre-med fraternity guy who is the obligatory villain in all of these movies. The frat guy sets up Van for a big fall. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen, 1.85:1

  • unrated version of the film

  • beware the over-hyped  "bonus topless tutor" scene - it's gay guys being tutored by a male stripper!

  • many deleted scenes and outtakes

  • many other features. Two-disk set.

In its glory days, the National Lampoon's magazine once featured a story about a philosopher detective, called Critique of Pure Murder. Some thirty years later, this entire Lampoon film is based upon the humor generated by a dog with an enlarged scrotum.

Either the Lampoon literacy rate has dropped a bit in those thirty years, or they should have removed their name from the title of this film.

Probably both.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 1/4, 1/5,

  • General UK consensus:


The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: a surprising financial winner! Sensibly produced for a minimal $6 million budget, it easily broke even from its modest $21 million gross.


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. Typical student gross-out comedy. Not especially noteworthy, but a watchable example of its genre except for a sappy ending.

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