National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj
Directed by Mort Nathan. Starring Kal Penn, Lauren Cohen, Daniel Percival, Glen Barry, Anthony Cozens, Holly Davidson, Steven Rathman. (2006, R, 95 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 8, 2006
You have to hand it to screenwriter David Drew Gallagher. As a primer on 1,001 ways to refer to the female anatomy without actually using the word "vagina," his work on this highly unanticipated offering in National Lampoon's current crop of collegiate cinema is, without question, useful and informative. On the other hand, National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj is shit, the sort of cut ’n’ paste horn-dog humor that original Nat Lamp CEO Matty Simmons would've called a writer on the carpet for right before he handed the lazy gagster over to Michael O'Donoghue for ritual evisceration. Like print issues of National Lampoon, the yuks in The Rise of Taj are scarce indeed. As the hipster Yank teaching assistant enrolled at a Cambridge knockoff, Taj (Penn) has to cajole a quartet of brainiac, hooligan, sex-crazed gameboys (and one girl) into the realm of cool so that they can declare class war on those posh toffs at the fraternity across the way and, you know, get their whiffy sticks waxed and whatnot. But Penn sports little of the squirrelly charm evidenced by the original Van Wilder star, Ryan Reynolds, and even less of Reynolds' trouser-snakester brio. I'll buy him Ganja & Hess-ing it to a midnight murderburger shack, but as a scheming lothario on a mission of mercy, he's a wash. Bluto Blutarsky would devour him in one swollen mouthful and then spew him back out all over the place. (Get it? He's a zit!) Granted, the state of the indie hipster and/or big-man-on-the-quad aesthetic has probably skewed a bit since I was a frosh, but good lord, man, it can't be this pale an imitation of campus life. I implore you: Go rent National Lampoon's Animal House, and leave this flaccid wanker alone.