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'Van Wilder'

'Van Wilder' is more childishness from National Lampoon

Friday, April 05, 2002

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Do you find any of the following funny? (Warning: Some of the selections could cause you to lose your appetite for breakfast, lunch or that coffee-break snack.)

'Van Wilder'

RATING: R for strong sexual content, gross humor, language and some drug content.

STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid

DIRECTOR: Walt Becker

WEB SITE: www.nationallampoon.



    a. Hearing "Splat!" after a suicidal college student takes a header off the roof and tumbles ... into a firefighter's net.

    b. Witnessing what happens when a substance called "Colon Blow" is unwittingly ingested.

    c. Watching pranksters stuff pastries with a concoction made largely of canine semen, disguised as a sugary filling.

    d. Projectile vomiting. See previous entry.

And don't worry. Or do worry. There's more where that came from in "National Lampoon's Van Wilder," a movie that pushes the boundaries of good taste so far that the Josh Hartnett comedy "40 Days and 40 Nights" seems almost refined and the long-delayed "Big Trouble" almost clever. Almost.

"Van Wilder" stars Ryan Reynolds from TV's "Two Guys and a Girl" in the title role as a college student who's been in school for seven years and has yet to earn a degree. He's a campus fixture, beloved by everyone from the constantly stricken Sick Boy to the charities he helps with wacky fund-raisers usually involving booze, underwear, nudity or some combination thereof.

When his wealthy, workaholic father (Tim Matheson) realizes Van is still in school -- and racking up $39,000 bills for tuition and housing -- he pulls the plug on the money. At the same time Van is faced with paying his own bills, a serious-minded journalism student named Gwen (Tara Reid) is assigned to do a story on Van. Gwen typically tackles much weightier issues and spends her free time with her aspiring physician boyfriend, Richard (Daniel Cosgrove).

As Van shares his philosophy about life, Gwen finds herself re-evaluating her own state of affairs and heart. Van and Richard, a selfish and self-important twit, end up in an R-rated grudge match.

As Van, Reynolds seems to be channeling the spirit of Chevy Chase. He glides through the movie on charm and a smirk. Reid, whose character's journalistic skills leave much to be desired, is the brainy babe who needs to learn to live in the present.

"National Lampoon" isn't exactly the Good Housekeeping seal of approval but it meant something when it preceded "Animal House" (also starring Matheson) and the Chevy Chase vacation movies. Here, the story and democratic hero are secondary to the putrid pranks, bathroom humor, sex jokes and topless women.

If that's a laundry list to your liking, have at it. Me, I'd like to have skipped this class in lowbrow laughs.

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