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National Lampoon's Van Wilder

Release Date: 
Star Rating: 
3 out of 10
You never really know what to expect when “National Lampoon” runs before a title. Could it possibly reach the heights of Animal House or Vacation? Or will it be yet another Last Resort or Senior Trip? While not scraping the depths of Corey Haim–Corey Feldman badness, Van Wilder proves that National Lampoon’s day of comedy greatness was pretty much over once Belushi rode the speed train to the great adieu.

You have to hand it to this movie, though, it really wants you to like it. It’s as relentlessly upbeat as its main character, and that kind of energy is admirable. In fact, even while you’re bemoaning the lameness of 90 percent of the gags, there’s a “feel-good” vibe about the whole thing that keeps you from walking out or jamming stale jujubes into your eye sockets. Essentially the story of a magnanimous party guy and college lifer, Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds), who realizes he’s (SPOILER WARNING!) afraid of facing the real world after hooking up with perky journalism major Gwen (Tara Reid), Van Wilder chucks gross-out humor, titties, ethnic stereotypes, joke casting (Van Wilder’s father, for instance, is played by Otter from Animal House), and forced one-liners at you hard and fast in an effort to get any of them to stick. Some do, some don’t. But you won’t be wondering why you’re not laughing so much as you’ll be pondering where, after bringing us the Deathmobile and Cousin Eddie, the ’pooners went so terribly astray.