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"WILD YEARS-THE MUSIC & MYTH OF TOM WAITS" BY JAY S. JACOBS

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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Van Wilder: Freshman Year

MOVIE REVIEWS

VAN WILDER: FRESHMAN YEAR (2009)

Starring Jonathan Bennett, Kristin Cavallari, Kurt Fuller, Jerry Shea, Nestor Aaron Absera, Steve Talley, Nic Nac, Meredith Giangrande, Irene Keng, Linden Ashby, Brett Rice, Sonny Shroyer, Mike Pniewski, Yvette Rachelle, Steve Warren, Debra Moss, Lynn McArthur and Shawn Knowles.

Teleplay by Todd McCullough.

Directed by Harv Glazer.

Distributed by Paramount Home Video.  100 minutes.  Not Rated.

 Everyday Beautiful

Van Wilder: Freshman Year

You don’t expect quality when you see a title like Van Wilder – Freshman Year, and you certainly don’t get any in the film.  Then again, high quality may just be a disappointment for the fans of this series, which is currently on its third film (and third leading man) in this straight-to-video cheapie prequel.  Let’s face it, Van Wilder fans are looking for gross toilet humor, lots of boobs and dogs with huge balls. 

Truth is, the first two – National Lampoon’s Van Wilder and Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj – kind of sucked in their own right, but at least those had some moments that worked.  The third one is just a complete mess, silly, absurd, tasteless, insensitive and just plain stupid.  In the right hands, those adjectives can actually be a road map to a terrific comedy, but Van Wilder – Freshman Year doesn’t even have the imagination to make its irreverence intriguing. 

It’s just dumb.  For example, they name an Asian student Yu Dom Fok.  Really.  Even MAD magazine would be embarrassed to try to pull something like that off in 2009.  However, if your side splits at the idea of hearing a dorky Asian student mangling the word cunnilingus (his roommates are certain he is saying “Can he ring us?”), then congratulations, you have found the right movie.   Put your hand down, it’s nothing to be proud of. 

I hate to say this, because I have never been a fan of Ryan Reynolds, the original actor to play Van, but new lead Jonathan Bennett doesn’t have near the knack for playing a smug, selfish asshole with as Reynolds does.  In Reynolds’ hands, Van was a prick, but at least he was a kind of likable prick.  Bennett, on the other hand, plays the character so detachedly that he seems like he is reading all of his lines on a teleprompter. 

I mean I get it that Van is supposed to be detached, but there is such a disconnection with the character that it spreads to the audience.  If Van can’t be bothered to take anything that happens at all seriously, why should we? 

Snarkiness doesn’t really work in a romantic comedy – which in its strange way this film is trying to be – if the lead character can’t belittle himself enough to talk with the love of his life in anything but opening lines and sexual innuendo then why should we feel any urge for her to let him in her life?  Is it supposed to be just because she has an asshole of an old boyfriend?  Honestly, given the choice between the two guys, Kaitlyn would be better off single. 

Interestingly, Laguna Beach reality show star Kristin Cavallari, who plays Kaitlyn, is much more comfortable with playing a character than the supposed actors surrounding her. 

Particularly humiliated is long-time respected comic character actor Kurt Fuller (Wayne’s World, Ghostbusters II, The Pursuit of Happyness, Ray) as the evil Dean of the college.  Apparently Fuller was so horrified with the final product that it isn’t even listed in his film credits on IMDb, even though he has a very large role in the film.  Now, I suppose that could just be some error on the site’s part, but everyone else in the cast is listed and usually an actor’s publicist will stay on top of things like that.  When you consider some of the bad films that he has accepted a credit in – such as Superhero Movie, Mr. Woodcock and The New Guy – that apparent snub is really saying something damning about the quality of Van Wilder – Freshman Year.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 26, 2009.

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Copyright ©2009   PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 26, 2009.

 

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