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National Lampoon's Van Wilder


National Lampoon's Van Wilder

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From John Belushi in Animal House to Tom Green in Road Trip to Harland Williams in Sorority Boys, the over-aged, graduation-phobic "super-senior" has long been a stock character in raunchy college comedies. Invariably male and often played by a ringer much too old to pass as an undergraduate, the character speaks to a desire to hold off adulthood for as long as possible, while reveling in the pleasures of suspended adolescence. Though generally relegated to comic-relief duty, the super-senior takes center stage in the numbingly witless National Lampoon's Van Wilder. In a performance that owes much to Matthew Broderick's turn in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ryan Reynolds stars as a party-hearty rich boy who's been in college for seven years and shows little interest in graduating. But motivation arrives in the form of pretty, ambitious girl journalist Tara Reid, who thinks a human-interest story about Reynolds will be her ticket to the journalistic big time. A staff writer at the sort of high-stakes, maddeningly competitive school newspaper that exists only in movies, Reid is initially horrified by Reynolds' nonstop antics, but she gradually comes to see that behind his frat-boy façade lies a good Samaritan with a heart of gold. Reid is also the only woman in the film who functions as something other than a vapid, surgically enhanced, interchangeable pleasure machine, although the film is an equal-opportunity offender, embracing unfunny ethnic stereotypes at the same time. Reynolds and Reid's white-bread romance begs to be left on the cutting-room floor, but then again, so does just about every other scene in Van Wilder, which distinguishes itself only in featuring a level of ejaculate rarely found outside of hardcore porn.