Through almost sheer, Herculean personal effort, Ryan Reynolds elevated the original Van Wilder into something moderately funny and attractive, despite the presence of Tara Reid; its spin-off sequel, Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, took the anarchic collegiate party-planning overseas, focusing on Kal Penn’s character, Wilder’s protégé-turned-playa. It was a down-market blend of pretty much exactly the sort of set
piece comedy and very occasional flashing of boobs that one would expect, and I don’t remember it doing well enough either in theaters (where it received an abortive release) or on DVD to give anyone the idea that another movie was in high demand.
Yet the name still has some cachet, I guess. So that leaves us with the trailer for the direct-to-DVD prequel, Van Wilder: Freshman Year, starring the improbably eyebrowed Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls) and Kristin Cavallari. Flatly scripted, unimaginatively staged and weirdly framed/edited (though perhaps to cut around audience-pleasing nudity?), this clip really does nothing except make one pine for the original, and appreciate Reynolds even more. If it delivers on the baser elements its base desires, it could prove tolerable. But there isn’t much manifested evidence of cleverness and, you know, we don’t even seem to find out why Van first wears the mask, or kills his sister, or… oh, sorry, wrong prequel. Bennett (above left) does seem to be having a go at channeling Reynolds’ vocal rhythms, though. That might either work, or become annoying in fairly short order. Van Wilder: Freshman Year hits DVD on July 14.