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Van Wilder: Freshman Year
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by brianorndorf

"Never underestimate a small DVD profit"
1 stars

Please forgive my written weariness with this review, but I just watched “Van Wilder: Freshman Year,” and I can’t believe I’ve voluntarily sat through three of these pictures. Three! It’s a cruel world out there if we can’t get a “Rocketeer” sequel, yet are forced to suffer the indignity of three atrocious “Van Wilder” movies. The kicker? “Freshman Year” is a reboot of the franchise. The producers (the guys who had their sense of humor surgically removed years back) have zeroed in on DTV “American Pie” money, looking to rebuild the bruised “Van Wilder” brand name with a whole new cast, time frame and exhibition reality, ready to offer no-budget, brain-dead laughs to any sucker willing to offer 100 minutes of their precious life to such indefatigable garbage.

Fresh from high school, Van Wilder (Jonathan Bennett) is off to Coolidge College to fulfill his educational family legacy. Making himself comfortable on campus with pothead roommate Farley (Nestor Aaron Absera) and hyper Asian student Yu Dum Fuk (Jerry Shea), Wilder finds his comfort disrupted by Dean Reardon (Kurt Fuller), who loathes the Wilder name. Finding some comfort in the company of Kaitlin Hays (Kristin Cavallari), Wilder instead enrages her ROTC boyfriend Dirk (Steve Tally), who conspires with Dean Reardon to outwit Wilder and have him thrown out of school. Wilder, sensing trouble, turns on his gift for pranks and proceeds to make life hell for his enemies.

After the artistic implosion and box office failure of 2006’s “The Rise of Taj,” I assumed it was all over for the “Van Wilder” franchise. And it was, in a weird way, with “Freshman Year” halting the forward momentum and returning the concept to square one. Unable to convince Ryan Reynolds to return to a role he’s always appeared embarrassed by, the producers have brought Bennett in to conjure up some stuttery mimicry. It’s a terrible mistake. Reynolds could never be replaced and Bennett is trapped doing an abysmal impression rather than building his own take on the character. An even more egregious “Freshman Year” error? Hiring the director of “Kickin’ it Old Skool” to oversee this tripe.

Billed as “A Harv Glazer Film” (what does that even mean?), I’m hard-pressed to understand why the filmmaker would want to assume credit for such a cruddy, bottom-feeding motion picture. While originality was always a pipe dream, “Freshman Year” is nothing more than a parade of dreary gross-out gags and naked breasts, held together by an obnoxious DTV ambiance that encourages the actors to bellow as broadly as possible. Glazer tries to sand down the rough edges with some “Malcolm in the Middle” visual stylistics, but the effort is confusing, lost within a screenplay fixated on two things: rehashing “Van Wilder” and rehashing “Van Wilder” poorly.

Bennett’s photocopied arch performance is perhaps the least of the problems “Freshman Year” faces. The picture is brutal with the low-brow stuff, taking great pleasure in fecal, snot, and homophobic jokes, building to prank set pieces that often, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, make no sense. “Freshman Year” doesn’t exist in a world of logic, but one of gags executed, preferably by any means necessary. It’s hard to argue with a film that prizes bare breasts above all else, but “Freshman Year” doesn’t even have the sense to pin joy to nudity, instead making the whole endeavor feel like a dirty joke told by the creep in the room everyone’s been instructed to avoid. Combine the soulless boobies (some of these girls look too wild-eyed for comfort, perhaps drugged?) to scenes of beer waterboarding, Dean Reardon receiving oral sex from Wilder’s large-testicled dog Colossus, and the very idea of a character named Yo Dum Fuk, and here’s a repellent picture. An ideal Redbox evening for self-loathing masochists or the stoned.

And then there’s this unpleasant Cavallari lady to deal with, who has all the screen presence of bored Gap clerk. I suppose anyone can be an actress these days. Who really needs talent? Thanks, MTV.

Concluding with a war game scenario that has Wilder “out partying” his enemies, “Freshman Year” closes on a disturbing note of promise. Seems there’s a refueled tank of inspiration for the “Van Wilder” saga, now ready to follow the college years nobody asked to visit in the first place. To those who enjoy these crude monstrosities, enjoy the ride. It won’t end soon. For me, it’s three strikes and I’m out. Watching a dumb comedy shouldn’t feel like a swan dive into a swimming pool filled with razor wire.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19530&reviewer=404
originally posted: 07/31/09 08:56:04
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User Comments

10/17/10 Charles Tatum Offensive and stupid...and I LIKED the first one! 1 stars
11/11/09 Albert Valentin Really pathetic attempt to cash in on the Van Wilder films...only 2 funny scenes. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
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  DVD: 14-Jul-2009

UK
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Australia
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Directed by
  Harvey Glazer

Written by
  N/A

Cast
  Jimmy Bennett
  Kristin Cavallari
  Kurt Fuller



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