National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002)

3.5 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 4/10

There are worst movies

Rather lacking in laughs

Movie Info

Movie Name:  National Lampoon’s Van Wilder

Studio:  Myriad Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  April 5, 2002

MPAA Rating:  R


Sorry, Ryan…I can’t unsee this movie.

Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) loves college life…and he’s holding on to it as long as he can.  When his father (Tim Matheson) cuts him off, Van finds he must graduate and that is going to take some work.  With a student reporter named Gwen Pearson (Tara Reid) assigned to cover Van, Van finds a new target for romance…but Gwen’s boyfriend Richard Bagg (Daniel Cosgrove) could pose a problem.

Directed by Walt Becker, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder was a gross-out comedy following the lines of American Pie which reinvigorated the genre.  While American Pie was fairly well received, Van Wilder was panned but had a strong return due to the low-budget of the film.


Want to go to White Castle?

This movie has a lot going against it in my book.  I wasn’t in love with American Pie and this is the low rent version of that movie.  The second problem was the star Ryan Reynolds who does nothing for me.  He generally plays the generic pretty-boy and has done little to progress pass it.  Watching National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, I wasn’t too far off in my “judge a book by its cover” assessment.

The movie is rather lacking in laughs.  For a gross-out comedy, it wasn’t that gross (so it missed the boat on the gross factor as well).  The formulaic plot just has Van Wilder going through college in a rather unchallenged fashion and he of course gets the girl in the end.  It is a laugh-out-loud comedy which needed more laughs since it was thin on plot.


What would be really funny would be if I could skate…ok, it wouldn’t be funny

It feels like Ryan Reynolds (especially in this period) was really forced on us as “a star”.  The guy keeps getting movies (relatively big budget) and continues to underwhelm.  This is the case in Van Wilder as well…which is sad since it is one of his better films by most standards.  He has no help from Tara Reid who is also acting-challenged, and Kal Penn who has done some good stuff under-performs.  The movie features one of the last appearances of “authority figure” Paul Gleason as Professor McDougal and has appearances by “nerd” Curtis Armstrong, Erik Estrada, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Sophia Bush, Simon Helberg, and Aaron Paul.

National Lampoon’s Van Wilder isn’t a very good film nor is it a horrible film.  It is just a meandering, middle of the road comedy.  I find that almost worse that a really bad comedy.  It feels like there is no effort put into the film and the makers assume that it will make money…which it did.  The movie spawn a spin-off sequel Van Wilder:  The Rise of Taj (2006) and a prequel Van Wilder:  Freshman Year (2009).  Neither film featured Ryan Reynolds.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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