Van Wilder: Freshman Year (2009)

It’s times like this that I wish I’d not described a load of other movies as the worst comedy ever, because we’ve got a new kid in town that makes “Van Wilder 2” (our description: “miserable failure”) look like “The Godfather 2”. I’m not sure the words exist to truly convey how wretched this is, but I’ll give it a go.

Van Wilder is off to college, the sort of college entirely populated by soft-porn actors in their mid 20s. We get a delightful recreation of the scene from that “Police Academy” movie where Van, giving a speech to his high school’s graduating class, is given oral sex by the valedictorian who has hidden underneath the lectern. He’s a chip off the old block as his Dad is ready to take him to Amsterdam and party with him, but he has business and can’t make it; so the credits roll and we see a series of snapshots of Van’s summer before he gets to Coolidge College.

Then the realisation sets in that this is a competition movie. The person you’re most likely to recognise, Kurt Fuller, is the colonel who’s now in charge of Coolidge, and was a former classmate of Papa Wilder; he hated the Dad and now hates the son too. So, he forces Van to join the ROTC, along with a troop of nerds and stoners, assuming that the tough military discipline will force them all to drop out. That this will all end up in a sort of wargame act 3, for control of the school, is never in doubt.

ASIDE: Why did no-one check that the college had become a military school in the intervening years?

The plot is effectively the same as part 2. Van meets a beautiful young woman, Kaitlin (Kristin Cavallari, a former reality TV star), but she’s not only in the ROTC, she’s the girlfriend of the villain, Dirk (Steve Talley, who played the younger Stifler in the straight-to-video American Pie sequels). There’s also an organisation called Daughters In Christ’s Kingdom (DICK, because of course), which appears to be entirely made up of extremely hot women who are saying no to sex, despite them nearly devouring Van and his friends at one point.

Van’s friends are the aforementioned stoner and a character called, and I genuinely wish I were making this up, Yu Dum Fuk. He’s the Taj replacement, being desperate to pleasure as many women as possible; and the first great prank that the three of them pull is to steal all the dildos and vibrators…I thought this was to drive the women so crazy that they started having sex with the guys, but in reality it’s just to strap them all to the underside of the choir’s bench in church and turn them on at once so all the DICK ladies get an orgasm from the vibration. There is no reason for this.

Van, despite being a fairly obnoxious freshman, instantly becomes the main man of the school. He helps the football team break their long losing record by getting the cheerleaders to come out in little more than underwear and offer to have sex with the players if they win. Luckily, all the female students (who have all had pre-college boob jobs) are instantly okay with nudity, pole dancing and engaging in a bit of faux-lesbian play for the delight of the assembled men – not a single one of them, of course, has any lines or anything like that. Undoubtedly, if you watch movies to see attractive naked women, then this has an awful lot to recommend it. You’ll also really enjoy the sex ed class that Van takes over, where a supply of underwear models are helpfully on hand to demonstrate all the sexual positions (every one of which Yu knows the name of, which immediately makes him attractive to the women).

So, pranks pranks pranks. Van, at one point, laughs off being waterboarded by the ROTC assholes, as the substance they use is beer. I don’t even know if this is okay any more. Is it cool to joke about a modern torture technique? So he gets them back by replacing their camo-face-paint with dogshit.

Oh, let’s talk about continuity for a second. Van meets his dog for the first time as it apparently escaped from an animal testing lab (no payoff on that, in case you were wondering). It’s either the same dog from the first movie – set seven years after this – or he just happened to have two English bulldogs with grotesquely enlarged testicles. Because their names are different! Balzac is the dog from parts 1 and 2, and this fellow is called Colossus; and let’s not get into the whole thing about his testicles reverting to normal size after he’d “taken a load off” into those cream-filled doughnuts in part 1. If they don’t care, I shouldn’t either, I guess.

I actually felt bad for Kurt Fuller at one point; that point was, during a blindfolded massage, when he had his penis and testicles smeared with peanut butter by Yu’s Asian girlfriend (awfully nice of her to agree to do that) and had the dog lick it off, just as his wife paid him an “unexpected” visit. Kurt Fuller is a decent actor who’s appeared in comedies I like; this is a little like seeing an old school friend homeless.

In the cold light of the next morning, it reminds me of a porno version of a college comedy. There are a grand total of two women who have lines – one of which is Kaitlyn, the other the super-horny woman who offers to do Dirk’s dirty work for him in return for sex (not planting stolen test papers like in part 2, but planting a bag of weed which Colossus eats before the cops get there anyway). Every single other woman in the movie is there to get naked, grind on other women and get leered at by men. Or to perform acts that would probably qualify as prostitution? You know, good old fashioned teen raunch fun.

I might have made this sound moderately entertaining. It certainly never stops trying, but the relentlessly sleazy treatment of women is really hard to get past. Plus, if that’s your thing, there’s a ton of blatant homophobia in there too, as the ROTC sidekick masturbates to gay army porn and then is tied to a tree with Dirk, in the classic “accidental rape” pose, as the final joke of the movie. Good jokes would have given them a ton of leeway, but it’s just presenting a limp double entendre then pausing for the audience to have a chuckle before moving on to the next one.

But, the acting is largely okay, I guess? Cavallari is terrible, but everyone else appreciates that this might be a good thing for their careers and tries their hearts out. Our criticism must land squarely on the shoulders of the people who financed a movie solely for soft-porn addicts; dishonourable mention goes to writer Todd McCullough (his only feature-length writing credit) and director Harvey Glazer (whose first movie was a Jamie Kennedy starring vehicle in that crazy time when people thought Kennedy was remotely funny, engaging or bankable as a star; his second was a Jason Mewes vehicle!)

I just don’t buy that Wilder, father and son, are the same characters that appeared in the first movie. Dad seems to party more, and be a great deal more tolerant of his son, in part 3; plus, young Van doesn’t seem like the sort of man who’d spend seven years at college. Oh, there’s cellphones and references to modern stuff in this, which makes the whole prequel thing completely stupid. I appreciate this is a strange thing to fixate on, but when movies mess this sort of thing up, it’s a good indication that nothing is right.

What a thoroughly depressing experience. I always assumed that raunch movies had sort of died out, to be replaced with slightly more “conscious” efforts in the post American Pie world, but it turns out they just went straight to video and carried on with the fine work of elevating the white teenage male to godhood and exploiting the hell out of women. I’m sorry for bringing this into your life, dear reader.

Rating: all the thumbs down

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