"NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VAN WILDER: THE RISE OF TAJ"
by Kevin Carr
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|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Kal Penn as TAJ BADALANDABAD
Lauren Cohan as CHARLOTTE
Dan Percival as PIP
Glen Barry as SEAMUS
Anthony Cozens as GETHIN
Steve Rathman as SIMON
Holly Davidson as SADIE
Tom Davey as PERCY
William De Coverly as ROGER
Directed by: Mort Nathan
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Let’s be honest, there wasn’t a lot going for the sequel to “Van Wilder.” The first film was only considered a success after it hit video. The title character (played by Ryan Reynolds) doesn’t even appear in this movie. And Tara Reid isn’t in it either. Come on, how bad is a film if Tara Reid doesn’t stoop to being in it.
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If any movie had “direct to DVD” written all over it, it was “Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj.” The only strange thing is that it got a theatrical release – not a big one, but it got one. It didnt’ make much money in the theatres, probably for the reasons cited above, but it got out there.
This installment of the – dare I say “Van Wilder franchise” – follows Van’s protege Taj (Kal Penn) as he travels to England to join his father’s fraterinty. However, upon meeting his new “brothers,” Taj is told there was an error and he couldn’t be in the fraternity. Dejected, Taj makes his own fraternity with the dorks that had been kicked out with him.
In a “Revenge of the Nerds” rip-off plot, Van’s fraternity challenges the popular snobs and begins to win the heart of the school.
I was never a big fan of the first “Van Wilder,” so I didn’t feel this film was trampling on anything sacred. Like the prequel to “The Dukes of Hazzard” that came out earlier this year, I actually found this movie somewhat funny. It was by no means a great feat of comedy movie-making, but neither was the first film.
Kal Penn dives into all the Indian stereotypes and actually manages to one-up Ryan Reynolds as the star. Where Reynolds was too perfect and cool as Van Wilder, Taj has plenty of rough edges. In the tradition of college sex comedies like “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj” makes a point to hit the balls low. There’s plenty of crude humor, blue language and a few nipples out there for the target demographic.
I don’t know if anyone out there ever questioned whether this film could live of the high quality standards of the orignal, but it has all the elements it needs. Screw Tara Reid! Who needs her in this movie. We’ve got a cockney girl with huge knockers, a pretty British snoot who takes off her top and a dog-show scene that manages to live down to the level of the eclair scene in the original.
The DVD comes in an unrated version, which I’d recommend. After all, who wants to watch an edited version of this movie? No one’s chekcing this iflm out for the plot.
There’s a decent amount of special features on the DVD, including a couple music videos (with an erotically compelling vid for Marion Raven’s “Heads Will Roll”), deleted scenes, a gag reel, a making-of featurette, and a behind-the-scenes documentary about shooting in Romania.
“Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj” may not be great filmmaking. I doubt it coudl even be classified as good filmmaking. But I foudn myself having fun when I watched it, and that’s the point of a movie like this.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1) – enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Spanish language track. Spanish subtitles. English subtitles for the hearing impaired.