Providence's Alternative Source!


National Lampoon heads back to school with this ersatz Animal House about a party boy who's a thorn in the administration's side and a tribe of neo-Nazi frat boys with suppressed homoerotic tendencies and ejaculation issues. The film even casts Animal House star Tim Matheson as the protagonist's workaholic father. The higher-education high jinks, however, rely more on tawdry scatological contrivances (à la American Pie) than on the blend of biting sophomoric wit that made the 1978 romp a classic. You've got éclairs filled with bulldog sperm, a penis pump improperly employed as a bong, and a bevy of ripened sorority sirens parading around in clingy undergarments.

As the title party hound/amicable screw-up, Ryan Reynolds (TV's Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place) does the grinning goon thing passably, and Tara Reid (American Pie) brims with perky integrity as the journalist out to get the big scoop on why Van Wilder can't manage to graduate from Coolidge College. Together they spark an edgy, at-odds chemistry, but the film, directed jerkily by Walt Becker, hangs too much on the lovers-to-be and doesn't take full advantage of the screwball caricatures lurking in the wings. At the Apple Valley, Entertainment, Flagship, Holiday, Hoyts, Showcase, and Tri-Boro cinemas.

By Tom Meek

Issue Date: April 5 - 11, 2002