I was there Gandalf, 3000 years ago when this movie was the shit. It was a perfect sequel to American Pie which came out just two years prior and focused on high-school boys. Well, we’re not in high school anymore but in college and this means only one thing: the party is motherfucking on! Van Wilder is a hilarious college comedy, both raunchy and adorable. Something that’s not surprising when you consider its full title National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. Their first movie was a spicy college comedy Animal House, a movie that marked the lives of several generations. However, their Vacation franchise starring Chevy Chase was probably more influential.
The reason why I want to talk about Van Wilder is that it’s actually based on the adventures of one Bert Kreischer. They were detailed in the Rolling Stone article The Undergraduate and caught the attention of none other than Oliver Stone. And this is how we got this movie. Bert Kreischer is now a famous comedian and he has a lot of wild stories to tell. This is why he made the movie The Machine also starring Mark Hamill. It’s currently in post-production and we should expect it in a couple of months (summer 2023). With all of that out of the way, let’s bring the focus back to the movie we’ll be talking about today.
Van Wilder requires zero brain effort and flows effortlessly off the screen. It’s short, pacey, and features one of the more disgusting scenes I have ever seen in my life. Yes, I’m talking about the infamous sweets scene that almost made me throw up. I mean, I was at the same time almost throwing up and laughing my ass off. It’s kind of hard to explain. A definition of a gross-out comedy. And a movie that’s not to be taken seriously. They didn’t take themselves seriously and that’s part of the charm of this movie. Additionally, almost all of the jokes landed something that almost never happens.
Meet Van Wilder, the most popular guy at his college who cares only about parties and girls. This is his seventh year and it would appear that he’s only getting started. However, there’s trouble afoot as his father threatens to stop paying for his tuition. At the same time, Van meets Gwen Pearson, a smart and sexy young girl studying journalism. Could the party guy be tamed or he will roam the halls of Coolidge college forever is up to you to find out.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, I would actually surpass Van’s college record. What was that year number seven, those are rookie numbers, you gotta pump those numbers up! The main reason why Van Wilder was such a huge success is its lead star, young Ryan Reynolds. He was perfect for this role, a bit smug but charming rascal that can get away with anything. Apart from him we also have Tara Reid and Kal Penn. Just a few years later, Kal will star in one of my favorite movies, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. And I’m sure you’re going to recognize two young actors who would go on to star in Breaking Bad and The Big Bang Theory tv shows in a couple of years.
Van Wilder was a part of a wave of raunchy comedies that all came out in a span of a couple of years. I’m talking, of course, about movies like Road Trip, EuroTrip, How High, Super Troopers, and Dude, Where’s My Car. If we add to that list two highly successful parodies, Not Another Teen Movie, and Scary Movie, those are some of my favorite comedies growing up. 2007 marked the end of that wave and the beginning of a new one with now a classic Superbad. Finally, I just want to add that like all great gross-out raunchy comedies, this one also has a shitting scene. And it is glorious.
Director: Walt Becker
Writers: Brent Goldberg, David Wagner
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid, Kal Penn, Daniel Cosgrove, Paul Gleason, Teck Holmes
Fun Facts: The line “You shouldn’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive” is actually is from the Looney Tunes short Rabbit’s Feat (1960).