Urban Cinefile
"..it's quite painful yet tantalising, seeing myself at age of eight, despite having my wrinkles and double chin!"  -Franco Zeffirelli on making his autobiographical film, Tea with Mussolini
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Van 'The Man' Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) has made college life into a life-style. He has had plenty of time – after all he's been there for seven years. When his father (Tim Matheson) realises that he is still paying his son's college fees, he decides to stop paying. Van, with the help of his assistant Taj (Kal Penn), a freshman from Banglapour, uses every means known to raise enough money to pay for the fees himself. Meanwhile, he takes an interest in student journalist Gwen (Tara Reid), who is commissioned by her editor to write a story on him. But Gwen is going steady with Richard (Daniel Cosgrove), a jealous, neurotic pre-med student.

Review by Louise Keller:
While it may look like any other campus comedy at first glance, Van Wilder is actually different from the rest, with its refreshing, fun-filled and wacky script. I mean, let's face it, you don't expect the central character to want to stay in college after seven years and no degree, relying on Daddy to cough up tuition fees. Oh yeah, Van Wilder loves the college life. After all, it's not about the curriculum, it's about everything else – from motivating the swimming team to saving a student with a death wish - and he does it so well. The humour is a mix of slapstick, crazy situations, visual comedy and one liners like "Naomi is 'I moan' backwards and "If he's here, who's running hell?" And it's very funny. I may not be as young as the target audience, but I laughed out loud quite a few times. Wait until you see those scenes with the over-endowed wrinkly faced bulldog! Of course, the canine propels a running gag throughout, with several 'boom boom' tag lines. The humour is not forced – it evolves naturally: even the toilet humour comes in one monumental blast. Ryan Reynolds is outstanding in the title role, a cross between a young Chevy Chase and Ben Affleck, and he excels at the deadpan delivery. Tara Reid is lovely as his dream girl, but it's Kal Penn as Taj, with ridiculous lines and droll execution, who is the real scene stealer. What can you expect from an Indian virgin who just wants to bury his face in an exotic woman's lotus flower? College seems to be full of good-looking students – tall, cool guys and gorgeous girls wearing tight tops and short skirts. The film looks great and the contempo soundtrack keeps them toes a-tapping. If college were as much fun as Van Wilder leads us to believe, we would all still be there. Stick around for the out-takes, they're a hoot. Lightweight and frivolous, Van Wilder is fun with a capital F. Besides, it reminds us that sometimes we should let our heart lead the way.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:

Scoring higher on the YUK! Scale than anything before it in campus comedies, Van Wilder will appeal to its target market. This is a Hollywood product produced to make money, so don’t look for creative stretch. The only stretch is in how gross it can be, as if that were the only yardstick for entertaining college kids in America. Despite the fact that it’s not my choice of genre, the film excels at what it sets out to do: bring in the fresh faced crowd who find farting fabulously funny, and the public use of bodily fluids a real hoot. The redeeming elements include the central character’s discovery of a heart and a brain, a last minute reversal to values that matter. In the end though, Van Wilder is just a party. Go if you want to.

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1


CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid, Tim Matheson, Kal Penn, Teck Holmes, Erik Estrada, Curtis Armstrong, Paul Gleason

PRODUCER: Jonathon Komack Martin, Andrew Panay

DIRECTOR: Walt Becker

SCRIPT: Brent Goldberg, David Wagner


EDITOR: Dennis M. Hill

MUSIC: David Lawrence


RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes



VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: October 9, 2002

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020