What It’s About: A rich dick convinces a college full of squares to loosen up by tricking them into drinking and having sex.
Who It’s For: Rich dicks.
I never saw Van Wilder or Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj, so it is perhaps unfair, or even immoral, for me to be reviewing the third installment in the series, called Van Wilder: Freshman Year. I meant to see the first two, but one night I caught a few minutes of the original on cable, and I was horrified to hear other characters calling Ryan Reynolds’s character “Van." Van? His name is Van? Then, and now, I can’t get over that Van Wilder is not his last name but his full name. I had just assumed that his first name was Josh or Cody or something, and that Van Wilder was what everyone called him, because it is cool when guys call each other by their last names, like they are in the military or something. “Van Wilder” sounded like an appropriately grandiose last name for an epically big man on campus. “My name is Baron Charles Van Wilder and I am the Duke of Partying!” Is Van Wilder a baron or a duke? What’s the difference? Is the right to call oneself that related to land ownership, or is the title passed down by blood? These are all questions I hoped to get answered in this Ryan Reynolds–less prequel, Van Wilder: Freshman Year.
From reading the Wikipedia, I learned that Van Wilder has been at college a long time and loves to party, but not to graduate. Presumably, at the end of the first movie, he grows up and changes, or decides to fight change and accept who he is, or some other hollow third-act turn that attempts to transform a screenplay about removing bras into an emotional journey worth taking. Because Ryan Reynolds makes a lot of money for movies now, and it's also not interesting to make a movie about a guy who has left his party college, and because Taj has already risen, the third movie in the trilogy takes us back to the beginning, to Van’s (ugh) first year at Coolidge College.
It’s not an origin movie, per se. We do not see him learn how to party. At the start of the film, Van already loves to party, despite only being 18. The first scene shows him getting a blow job while giving the commencement speech at his high school graduation and then going to Amsterdam alone to drink and sleep with prostitutes. Then he goes to college, and he gets in lots of fights with Dean Reardon and the ROTC in his quest to turn this now-conservative and religious campus into one appropriately obsessed with body shots. He also falls in love with Kaitlin Hayes, who is played by Kristin Cavallari, which tells you a lot of what you need to know about this movie.
Jonathan Bennett, an actor with thick eyebrows who enjoys makeup on his face but not on his neck, plays Van. Bennett was probably cast for his ability to mimic the comedy stylings of Ryan Reynolds, which consists of saying all lines of dialogue the way Ace Ventura says “alrighty, then.” Or maybe Bennett was cast because he’s something of a pro at sequels you’ve never heard of; according to his IMDb page, he was in both Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and a Dukes of Hazzard prequel called The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning.
I knew going in that Van Wilder was a crazy party animal, but for some reason I was expecting more PCU and less Porky’s. I was wrong. Everything in this movie is about sex, and every woman is endlessly objectified, often in racist ways. It’s breathtaking to watch the filmmakers’ commitment to this. I’m sure if I had a Blu-ray copy of this I could freeze-frame any random scene in the movie and zoom in to find an out-of-focus female extra fellating a banana, just because. So all-encompassing is the sex that I think it makes sense to tell the story of Van Wilder: Freshman Year by explaining all the entries under “Sex & Nudity” on the Parental Guide of its IMDb page. These are chronological, conveniently, and the IMDb users who compiled this list for no money or reason are American heroes. Here goes.
- “Tons of double entendres and sexual talk.”
Yup, there are “tons.” Van’s first line of dialogue in the movie has him looking out at a high school classmate’s breasts during his graduation speech and saying, “I have so many warm mammeries of this place.” He meant to say “memories” but then he made a mistake because of her breasts.
- “A woman performs oral sex on a man under his graduation gown.”
I don't know how Van doesn’t get caught here. He’s giving a speech at his high school graduation, and a fellow graduating female puts a ladder under the stage, removes the floorboard, and climbs up between his legs and starts to pleasure him. He has trouble finishing his speech, and it’s so strange that all the teachers and the principal behind him don’t see the girl moving around in his gown. Right after he “climaxes” — which is a cool word for IMDb to use — he makes eye contact with his dad and smiles. He then introduces the girl, who is the valedictorian. No one seems to mind that she just stands up from under the podium.
- “A man looks at a Playpen porn magazine and says "Girls used to have hair?" (meaning pubic hair).”
Here we learn that Coolidge College used to be a fun place, as it was a top party school in the 1969 issue of Playpen. I'm glad this explained that when Van says “hair” he means “pubic hair."
- “Montage of women using vibrators and dildos (one of them is topless) and men stealing the vibrators and dildos.”
This scheme doesn’t make sense at all. To teach D.I.C.K. (the Daughters in Christ’s Kingdom) a lesson about hanging loose or something, Van and his gang need lots of vibrators and dildos. It's weird they don’t just buy them, but it’s even weirder they steal them from girls on campus while they are using them. If I had to steal a few trash bags full of vibrators, I’d definitely sneak into dozens of other people’s rooms while they were gone, not while they were privately masturbating.
- “Some vibrators are taped under a church pew and turned on. The women sitting in the pew can be heard having orgasms.”
Van’s got a very complicated rig here, where somehow he hooks up the vibrators underneath the pew where the Daughters in Christ’s Kingdom sit during church, and then hidden in his hymnal he has a dial controlling how fast these vibrators are vibrating. Is it Bluetooth? I don't know. But he gets them all to climax right at the climax of the preacher’s sermon. The movie does not show what Van and his crew do with all the dildos they stole, which are not used.
- “Some women are seen topless in a locker room.”
Seen by who? Seen by us. We see them. Van gives an inspirational speech to the cheerleaders while they're changing in the locker room. We don’t know why they are changing in the middle of the football game, because we saw them on the field earlier and it doesn’t really make sense they’d just change out of their clothes, and then back into them, during halftime. They don't seem to mind being topless in front of Van, but that might be because he’s got so much foundation on they think he’s a woman.
- “Cheerleaders outfits are cut until they are very skimpy.”
We don’t see it happen, but with one pair of scissors Van turns their conservative cheerleading outfits into distracting and sexy bikini outfits. He must be an incredible seamstress, because their new outfits are very well tailored.
- “Some topless women and women kissing each other are seen at a party.”
Topless women AND women kissing each other? This is very clearly Van’s type of party.
- “A dog's huge testicles are seen.”
I am very much enjoying this Parental Guide’s use of the passive “are seen.” Literally everything in a movie “is seen” by the person watching it. Anyway, Van is sitting on some steps at school thinking when a bulldog waddles out. It has humongous CGI testicles that we see, very clearly, a lot. Van looks up and sees the dog has just come out of the “Animal Testing Facility.” He puts two and two together and smiles. I don’t know what two and two is here. “Oh, they must have been doing experiments to try to make dogs’ balls huge, and this one escaped. I’ll make him my dog.” He names the bulldog Colossus.
- “Two women make out.”
What's offensive about this?
- “Some demonstrations of different sex positions in a sex ed class.”
Van realizes everyone at Coolidge is bad at sex when his roommate demonstrates how he goes down on women by eating a whole peach and then spitting the pit out. Van takes over a sex class and shows both the guys and girls lots of fake porno stuff. Suddenly, the whole campus is great at sex.
- “A topless woman's breasts are grabbed by a man.”
I don’t remember this part, but I trust that it happened.
- “A woman shoots food out of her vagina (offscreen).”
This one was really rough. Van’s roommate Yu, a Chinese gentleman, finally finds love when he meets another Chinese student. They immediately consummate their relationship, and after disrobing, he starts shoving an egg roll into a fortune cookie. Yes. She then takes a pork dumpling, pulls open the front of her underwear, says, “sweet and sour,” drops the dumpling into her underwear, removes her underwear, and shoots it (the dumpling not the underwear) into Yu’s mouth, thankfully offscreen. What! So many things are upsetting about this, but I think her saying “sweet and sour” might be the most upsetting. What is she talking about? What down there is explicitly sour and what is explicitly sweet? What a great joke, this movie.
- “A nude man is seen masturbating (his underwear is pulled down to his knees and blocks anything graphic from being seen).”
A recurring thing is that one of the ROTC students is gay. Here he’s “seen” with some gay pornography.
- “We see a man with an erection under his towel. A woman spreads some peanut butter on his penis and a dog licks it off.”
Dean Reardon tries to frame Van and get him arrested by planting marijuana in his dorm room. The plan fails when Colossus eats all the pot and nearly dies. In order to get Reardon back for harming his dog, Van secretly arranges a massage with a “happy ending” for Reardon in his office, has the masseuse blindfold Reardon and spread peanut butter on his “soldier,” and then lets Colossus into the office to lick the peanut butter off. Reardon’s wife is called and she catches the two of them in the act. Putting aside how gross it is that there is like a 20-second scene of a bulldog going to town on an old man’s penis while he moans in pleasure, what a crazy mean thing to do to your dog, Van. If I were that dog, I would not appreciate that my owner’s plan to get justice for me requires that I also blow some old man, no matter how much I love peanut butter, which is a lot.
- “A man stands up in a tub and we see his butt.”
A man stands up in a tub and we see his butt.
- “A man has sex from behind a woman (they are both nude and we see her breasts). He climaxes inside her and the woman asks him for his gun (implying that she is going to masturbate with it).”
Sex “behind” a woman?? What is this movie talking about.
- “We see some topless women and women making out at a party.”
Again, I have no memory of this, but it sounds legit.
- “Some women take their tops off and we see their breasts.”
Great films are about cause and effect. So often when a woman takes her top off, we are caused to see her breasts, and that has a real effect on us.
- “A dog humps a man's leg then rests his testicles on the man's face.”
The second-to-last scene of the movie shows Colossus lying on top of a passed-out Reardon in a 69 position. Colossus’s huge animated testicles are very clearly visible.
- “Two men are tied up in their underwear to each other. The man in back says he is getting an erection and we hear the man in front getting penetrated.”
The mean ROTC guys get theirs when one accidentally gets raped by the other.
- “I would say this movie is meant for people above the age of 18, but anyone above the age of 14 should be able to watch it.”
The movie ends with war games, and Van and his dad’s team defeats Reardon’s ROTC students with partying. Literally, every soldier is distracted by breasts or beer and gives up. This is a profound message about making parties, not war, or something. Has the Taliban ever crushed a beer bong? I bet they’d chill out.
When You Should Watch It: When the gigantic dog testicles in your life have gotten “too real” and you need to kick back and relax with some CGI dog testicles on which some animation school graduate probably spent 800 hours working.