Van Wilder Party Liaison (2002) – movie review

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Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid, Kal Penn, Tim Matheson, Kim Smith, Daniel Cosgrove

Director: Walt Becker

Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) loves college life, so much so that he doesn’t want to leave. He never sits his exams so he just stays at college year after year. Van’s father (Tim Matheson) is a very rich, very pre-occupied businessman, so he’s not even aware how long Van’s been in education, until one year when he’s signing cheques for his son’s fees it occurs to him that Van should have a job so he refuses to pay for another year’s worth of college life.

But Van refuses to leave; in fact he’s become a virtual institution at the university, famous for his wild parties and support of the college sports teams. He’s even got his own personal assistant, a job that’s so popular he and his entourage have to conduct interviews each year for new candidates for the job with freshmen lined up to be considered.

With no money from his father to pay the fees for his extravagant lifestyle he decides to raise the money he needs himself by arranging other people’s parties, his style and presence assuring popularity for his ‘clients’.

However his increasing fame sparks renewed interest from the college newspaper who have never been able to get an interview with him so they assign a new reporter to get an exclusive – a reporter who comes in the gorgeous shape of Gwen (Tara Reid).

Van instantly falls for the serious Gwen, the problem being that she’s engaged to Richard (Daniel Cosgrove) a frat boy who hates Van and his easygoing lifestyle and who does everything possible to discredit Van in the eyes of the faculty and Gwen.

VAN WILDER is a very funny, outrageous but laid back comedy that knows its market and really works. It’s finally achieved what so many college-type comedies have been trying for recently – to make a movie that has the potential to better the popularity of AMERICAN PIE. It’s even got it’s own gross-out scene that tops just about everything – you’ll never eat another cream cake again! VAN WILDER is better than most however because it’s not just a one-joke film, it delivers a steady stream of laughs.

There are some great moments, for example ‘Topless Tutors’ a money making scheme thought up by Van, hiring out topless girls from the local lap dancing club to work as students private tutors – what a way to learn!

Tara Reid who actually did star in both AMERICAN PIE and AMERICAN PIE 2 has a much bigger part in VAN WILDER than either of those movies. She is perfect as the stunning blonde who makes such an impression on Van – and she’s a good actress – the perfect combination.

VAN WILDER: PARTY LIAISON is also the latest in the NATIONAL LAMPOON series of movies. Its US Title is NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VAN WILDER, but I have to say that although I like those films VAN WILDER is far better completely updating the franchise. Chevy Chase is not in this one but Ryan Reynolds does such a good job in the lead role it doesn’t matter and he even looks a little like Chevy.

A thoroughly enjoyable fun movie.

5 out of 6 stars