Van Wilder: Freshman Year (2009) - Unrated
|Genre(s): Comedy --> Sex|
|Paramount Famous Productions || Unrated - 101 minutes - $29.98 || July 14, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-06-29|
Writer(s): Brent Goldberg & David T. Wagner (characters); Todd McCullough (written by)
Cast: Jonathan Bennett, Kristin Cavallari, Kurt Fuller, Steve Talley
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It’s all about expectations. When I had read Paramount was getting into the direct-to-video market with the Van Wilder franchise (not unlike Universal and American Pie), I could only groan a little upon the thoughts of more sequels based off of an original that quite frankly, wasn’t that great to begin but has distinguished itself from all the other crude sex comedies because of one Ryan Reynolds and his fun style. Four years later the studio went to the well again with the spin-off, Van Wilder 2: Rise of Taj starring Kal Penn which was a flop at the box office and even movie-goers didn’t like it so much. So what better way to re-launch the franchise with Van Wilder: Freshman Year bringing back the charismatic ladies/party man (he did stick around college for seven years after all).
The movie begins with Van Wilder (Jonathan Bennett) graduating from high school and giving an... arousing speech to the graduates (with the help of the valedictorian). He was supposed to spend the summer in Amsterdam with his father but those plans fell through, but a good time overseas Van did have. He returns back to U.S. and on the Coolidge College campus in style with two hot women and a stretch limo. The Dean of Students, Charles Reardon (Kirk Fuller), runs the campus with an iron fist: no drinking, no kissing and no drugs. He also has a personal hatred for the Wilder clan who are 5 generation legacies at Coolidge.
Well, those rules do not suit the young Van Wilder, not one bit! Van sets out to liberate the campus by first loosening up the ladies and then moving onto the football team and soon enough he’s the most popular dude, throwing wild parties and getting his roommates (a pothead and an Asian guy) laid. But Van has his eyes set on the tough but beautiful Kaitlin (played by “Laguna Beach” babe Kristin Cavallari). Unfortunately she is with Van’s chief rival Dirk Arnold (Steve Talley) and soon a campus war wages for the hearts and minds of the students.
Van Wilder: Freshman Year actually is a better film than I had anticipated. Sure, the sex humor is off the charts and above and beyond what was shown in the American Pie movies, but I must admit, I laughed more than a few times. There are a few jokes/gags that fall flat and the casting isn’t the greatest with Jonathan Bennett doing an amiable job filling in Ryan Reynold’s shoes. Kristin Cavallari, while not giving an amazing comedic performance manages to hold her own given how large and important per part is while most of the supporting cast are fun, though a bit caricatures more than anything.
This Van Wilder prequel is one of the “better” direct-to-video sequels to come off the production line, and that includes those lame ass DTV American Pie movies as well (not to mention Bachelor Party Vegas which also starred Jonathan Bennett). We also have Road Trip II: Beer Pong to look forward to as well.
In any case, if you like sex humor, you won’t be disappointed. The rest of the “plot” basically follows any other romantic comedy you’ve seen before including the first Van Wilder (boy meets girl, girl falls for boy, girl gets mad at boy when girl thinks boy is cheating on her, boy makes it up to girl, boy and girl kiss at the end).
Although unrated, the back cover does state there is an “R” rated version out there with the rating details as such: Pervasive crude and sexual content, language and drug use. Just an FYI for anyone interested...
First on the docket is a feature commentary with director Harv Glazer and cast members Jonathan Bennett, Kristin Cavallari, Nic Nac and Steve Talley. This is less a track about behind-the-scenes stories (but there are some) and more a get together of friends chatting about a movie in someone’s living room. Some might find the track annoying (lots of yelling over one another) but I enjoyed it since cast commentaries are usually my favorite.
There are a few featurettes beginning with Creating the Legend: The Making of Van Wilder: Freshman Year (17:37) a joke-filled making-of with behind-the-scenes footage and comments from the cast and crew (who basically explain the story).
Other featurettes include: Going Balls Out: Colossus (2:57) is a featurette on the big-balls bulldog and his demands; Coolidge College: Orientation Video (3:23) just has more interview footage with the cast (sometimes in character) talking about the college and what it’s all about; a funny “Laguna Beach” spoof called Decatur (9:02), especially if you’re a fan of the show (which, um, I’m not... at all... really); Teacher’s Pet (2:36) is about how great Van Wilder is and sprinkles in some more footage during the Sex 101 class; Van’s Party Supplies (3:58) goes over the, well, female “tools”; the cast talk about pulling pranks during their youth in Pranks 101 (3:47).
Last up is a Gag Reel (6:59) where some of the scenes were already included in the end credits but there’s a little more for those who enjoy watching adlibs and flubbed lines.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The DVD comes with an acceptable video transfer presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio. Colors are bright and the picture itself looks to be clean and free of dust and/or scratches.
The solo Dolby Digital 5.1 track is adequate especially since this is a comedy and most of the audio is either a light-hearted score or dialogue from the cast. Levels could’ve been a little better but I can’t really complain.
Van Wilder: Freshman Year isn’t a high class comedy but as a direct-to-video prequel, it’s actually not too bad, but remember, everything is relative. Jonathan Bennett may not have the charm of Ryan Reynolds but he has enough of a comedic personality to make the movie enjoyable enough.