Judge Eric Profancik wants to dip his balls in that.
"This is really a pimpin' good time."
Ah, the glorious land of the double-dip. It's a sad day when such a lowly film is worthy of a second go round from the studio. What makes National Lampoons' Van Wilder (just Van Wilder going forward) worthy of such distinction? Simple: it's earned a straight-to-DVD sequel: Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj. So with the sequel comes a trip back to the vault to wring a few more dollars from the uninitiated. Normally, a double-dip would include a coupon to see the sequel for free in the theater; would this one perhaps include a coupon for a discount on Taj? It doesn't. You're on your own to pay full price for that gem.
We at The Verdict strive to keep you informed, and retired Judge Naugle had the honor of reviewing the original release. I'll try to compare the two releases while tossing in my own thoughts on this comedic treasure…
Facts of the Case
Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds, Blade: Trinity) is a seventh year student at Coolidge College. Afraid to grow up and graduate, he's kept himself in school, becoming the quintessential B.M.O.C. One day his father (Tim Matheson, The West Wing) realizes how much money he's invested (spent) in his son, and his return has been poor. So, like any good parent, he cuts Van off—no more money for school. But Van isn't ready to go, so he uses his special skills to raise the money necessary for him to stay another year. Commence le festival!
I'll admit (again) that I'm a fan of this silly genre of movies: the teen comedy. I don't know why, but I find them appealing and they make me laugh.To wit, Van Wilder made me laugh. There's nothing original or innovative in this comedy, but great performances by Ryan Reynolds and Kal Penn (Taj Mahal Badalandabad, the star of the sequel) and plenty of naughty bits to keep it flowing.
"A great performance by Ryan Reynolds?" "Are you serious," you ask? Yes, I am. After that ridiculous turn to try to be a butch action hero in the Blade trilogy, it's good to see Ryan do what he does well—comedy. In Van Wilder he's at the top of his game, transforming effortlessly into the confident, smarmy, yet lovable goofball. What truly made his performance memorable were his voice inflections and the numerous "who me?" faces he did throughout the film. The two in tandem captured the spirit of the character, allowing you to believe he could become so wildly popular.
Not going to pester me about Kal's great performance? That's good, because you realize and know that he stole every scene he was in, easily overshadowing Reynolds. The studio realized this too, giving him the reigns to the sequel. Of course, in the interim, he also starred in the infamous Harold and Kumar Go to the White Castle—not to mention his little role in Superman Returns.
The sophomoric humor laced throughout Van Wilder appeals to a certain crowd, but even as a proud member of this adolescent club I have to say that there's one theme that disturbed me and grossed me out: the bulldog. Every time the dog and his ginormous testicles came on screen, I cringed. It was just gross. Compounding that was the extra special attention given to them (the hot tub and Van's nap). Turning gross into vomit inducing is the éclair scene. Did they have to make the filling so translucent and runny? I have to avert my eyes every time.
As Judge Naugle said, "What's wrong with me?" Why do I enjoy such ignorant humor? Why do I own all the American Pie movies and so forth? Why do I stoop so low in my entertainment, finding such delight in lowbrow jokes? Hell if I know, but a good fart joke makes me cry with laughter almost every time!
With all that said and done, I'm not here to convince you to pick up this movie. No, my task is far more important: researching this dreaded double-dip. From what I gather, the discs contain the same video and audio transfers. Judge Naugle gave it higher scores than me, as I don't feel they are "A" releases. There's unwanted graininess and blockiness (not quite pixelization) in some scenes; but, outside of that, colors were accurate, blacks were solid, and contrast and sharpness led to very good detail definition. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is undemanding, yet dialogue is always clean and clear. I would have thought such a movie would have a stronger soundtrack, but there isn't, leading to minimal use of the surrounds and subwoofer.
With this two-disc "Gone Wilder" edition, what's the difference? In comparing the bonus items on the two, you've gained some and lost some items:
(The following are all contained on the second DVD.)
• "Party Legends, Pledges, and 'Bull'-ies" (16
minutes): A general making-of the movie with perhaps a touch too much emphasis
Perhaps not really a bonus item, but the DVD comes in a sleeve featuring 3-D boobies!
How does this "Gone Wilder" batch of bonus features measure up? Most of the new material is very lame. The only one of any note is the "making of," which isn't much. What was lost doesn't appear to have been a great loss, though I'd think there was enough room to keep all this stuff. And for the stuff that stayed the same, it too was lame not to mention only barely relevant to the movie. All in all, there's a decent quantity of bonus material, but it the quality sucks compared to the movie.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Strike One—"National Lampoon's": That name used to mean something. Those movies were once hilarious, considered classics. Animal House is the pinnacle of its achievement, and nothing has even come anywhere close to the pure, simple, and timeless pleasure of that movie.
Strike Two—Teen Comedy: Teen comedies are a dime a dozen, and they aren't even worth that much. Same old jokes, lame B-grade actors, and no attempt at any plot relegate this drivel to the trash.
Strike Three—Tara Reid: That bimbo couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. Worse, she doesn't even have her bad boob job yet.
You know who you are, and you're reading this. Van Wilder is a film that appeals to a certain niche of regressive male individuals who enjoy puerile attempts at humor. I'm a proud member of that club, and I found a great deal to enjoy in this film. It's has a bunch of humorous stuff, keeps you entertained until the end, and actually creates a memorable character or two along the way. I give the movie a recommendation for at least a rental. But which version? Simple, if you own the first release, there's no need to double-dip. If you don't own either, get whichever is cheaper.
National Lampoon's Van Wilder: Van Gone Wilder Edition is hereby found guilty of being a totally unnecessary double-dip.
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