Van Wilder

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National Lampoon's
Van Wilder
National Lampoon's Van Wilder Poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWalt Becker
Produced by
Written by
  • Brent Goldberg
  • David T. Wagner
Music byDavid Lawrence
CinematographyJames Bagdonas
Edited byDennis M. Hill
Distributed byArtisan Entertainment
Release date
  • April 5, 2002 (2002-04-05)
Running time
93 minutes[1]
  • Germany
  • United States
Budget$5 million[2]
Box office$38.3 million[2]

National Lampoon's Van Wilder (released internationally as Van Wilder: Party Liaison) is a 2002 German-American comedy film directed by Walt Becker and written by Brent Goldberg and David T. Wagner, based on the life of Bert Kreischer.[3]

National Lampoon's Van Wilder stars Ryan Reynolds as the title character alongside Tara Reid, Kal Penn, and Tim Matheson. The film follows the misadventures of its lead character Van Wilder, a seventh-year senior, who has made his life goal in helping undergrads at Coolidge College succeed in the future. An article is then written for the campus newspaper by a fellow student, Gwen Pearson, played by Reid, bringing to light Van Wilder's college life. This attracts the attention of Van's father, played by Matheson, which leads to his tuition being cut off. Van Wilder gets stuck in the middle of a love triangle between Gwen and her mean-spirited boyfriend, Richard "Dick" Bagg (Daniel Cosgrove) while struggling to graduate. Van tries various schemes to earn enough money to pay his tuition and graduate, with help from Gwen and the rest of the student body, except a couple of sinister enemies who attempt to sabotage his efforts.

A sequel, Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, was released on December 1, 2006. A prequel, Van Wilder: Freshman Year, was released straight-to-DVD on July 14, 2009.


Vance “Van” Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) is a confident and sardonic seventh-year senior at Coolidge College who is popular among most of the student body. With no ambition to graduate, Van spends his days driving around campus in his customized golf cart, posing nude for figure drawing classes, and organizing soirees and fundraisers for his peers. Among his friends are his roommate and close confidant Hutch (Teck Holmes) and his newly hired assistant Taj Badalandabad (Kal Penn), a sexually repressed foreign exchange student from India.

Upon learning that his son is still in school, Van's father (Tim Matheson) arrives at Coolidge intent on bringing him home. When Van refuses, his father decides to sever Van's financial support. Faced with disenrollment due to unpaid tuition, Van seeks a payment extension from the registrar, Deloris Haver (Cynthia Fancher). After Van has sex with her, Deloris hands him the paperwork for an extension, which Van realizes he only needed to ask for in the first place.

Gwen Pearson (Tara Reid) works for the school paper, and despite her talents for journalism, her articles don't generate interest from the student body. Her editor assigns her to get an “unattainable” human interest story on Van Wilder as he normally refuses to do interviews for the paper. After a couple of attempts to get money fast, Van is approached by the Lambda Omega Omega fraternity, offering to pay him a thousand dollars to throw them a blowout party and boost their popularity.

Overhearing two of the Lambdas expressing their excitement over the party's success and their satisfaction with Van's work, Gwen writes a story crediting Van as the host of the party. Though Van hates the article at first, he realizes it can be the "cash cow" he needs to stay in school. Van eventually agrees to sit down with Gwen for the follow-up piece after losing a hockey bet to her.

Gwen's boyfriend, Richard “Dick” Bagg (Daniel Cosgrove), is a pre-medical student and the president of his fraternity Delta Iota Kappa as well as the student government. As he learns of Gwen's work with Van and suspects a growing bond between them, he moves to sabotage their prospective romance. Van and Richard exchange escalating pranks until it culminates in Van, Taj and Hutch replacing the cream filling of a batch of pastries with canine semen taken from Van's English Bulldog Colossus.

Though Gwen grows closer to Van, she accesses his transcripts from the Admissions & Records office while doing background work on her piece, learning that Van has actively avoided graduating for the past seven semesters. Angry that Gwen dug into such personal details, Van dissociates himself from Gwen and takes a contemplative look at his life.

Richard arranges to sabotage Van's latest party with Jeannie (Emily Rutherfurd), a member of a sister sorority by smuggling underaged children into the party and getting them drunk, then calling a campus police officer to the scene. As a result, Van is arrested for selling alcohol to minors and faces expulsion from Coolidge. A depressed Van prepares to leave Coolidge until Taj inspires him to fight back against the charges. The student body pools its resources to defend Van against the charges before a university panel featuring, among others, Van's collegiate adversary Professor McDougal (Paul Gleason), Deloris and Richard.

While the law club invests time coaching Van to plead innocent to the charges, the rest of the student body works to generate support for Van. Having learned from his past mistakes and what Gwen has shown him, Van goes off-book during the hearing and takes responsibility for the kids at the party. He throws himself at the mercy of the court and asks that rather than expelling him they force him to graduate since he is only 18 units shy of his degree. Professor McDougal surprises everyone with his swing vote, casting the 3–2 vote in favor of Van's reinstatement, and Van studies for the quickly-approaching finals.

In retaliation for Richard's underhandedness (having learned it was him who set Van up and his later-revealed infidelity with Jeannie), Gwen spikes Richard's ritual protein shake with a powerful laxative just prior to his taking the Medical College Admission Test. Unable to hold out (since bathroom breaks are forbidden during the test), Richard “dials down the middle” of most his multiple-choice exam sheet, and hurriedly exits the exam room. As he rushes to find a bathroom, he is intercepted by one of the doctors from the group meant to interview him for admission to Northwestern Medical School, who pulls him into an office to meet with the others. Unable to hold himself any longer, Richard strips off his pants and has violent diarrhea in the wastebasket in the room, to the revulsion and horror of the doctors present. He is briefly seen again in the film, reading Gwen's article in the school paper in the bathroom as his medical school dreams and reputation are permanently destroyed.

Van uses the entire exam period for his last final with Professor McDougal, finishing with a negative attitude. McDougal himself delivers the news to Van that he passed. McDougal notes that he had been so hard on him all those years because he believed Van wasn't living up to his potential. Gwen finishes her article on Van for the graduation issue revealing Van's many contributions to the students and staff of Coolidge in the last seven years and Richard's plot to have Van expelled.

The university celebrates Van's graduation with a wild party held in Van's honor. Van's father appears (having read Gwen's article), admitting he was wrong and expressing his pride in Van's success. Gwen then arrives, lovingly reuniting with Van.



National Lampoon's Van Wilder
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
Released26 March 2002
Recorded2000, 2001
LabelUltimatum Records, Artemis Records
ProducerGwen Bethel Riley and Chris Violette

The soundtrack album was released on March 26, 2002. It omits the song "Hello" by Sugarbomb, "Authority Song" by Jimmy Eat World, and "Stuck in America" by Sugarcult. Other artists with songs omitted from the soundtrack included Atomic Kitten, Michelle Branch, Sprung Monkey, Bird 3, Spymob, Mint Royale, and Tahiti 80.

  1. "Roll On" - The Living End (Chris Cheney)
  2. "Bleed American" - Jimmy Eat World (Jimmy Eat World)
  3. "Hit the Ground" - 6gig (6gig)
  4. "Bouncing Off the Walls" - Sugarcult (Sugarcult)
  5. "I'm a Fool" - American Hi-Fi (Stacy Jones)
  6. "Girl On the Roof" - David Mead
  7. "Things Are Getting Better" - N*E*R*D (Chad Hugo, Pharrell)
  8. "Okay" - Swirl 360 (Denny & Kenny Scott, Tonio K)
  9. "Blind Spot" - Transmatic (Transmatic)
  10. "Makes No Difference" - Sum 41 (Sum 41)
  11. "At Auntie Tom's" - Fuzz Townshend (Fuzz Townshend, Matt Machin, Roger Charlery)
  12. "Little Man (2002 Mix)" - Sia (Sia Furler, Sam Frank)
  13. "Start Over" - Abandoned Pools (Tommy Walter, Pete Pagonis)
  14. "You Get Me" - Michelle Branch (Michelle Branch)


Box office[edit]

Van Wilder opened with $7,302,913, ranking number 6 in the domestic box office. It grossed $21,305,259 domestically with $16,970,224 internationally for a worldwide total of $38,275,483. Based on a $5 million budget, the film was a box office success.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 18% based on 98 reviews, with an average rating of 3.45/10. The website's critical consensus describes the film as being "A derivative gross-out comedy that's short on laughs."[4] On Metacritic, the film has a 26 out of 100 score based on 24 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[5]

Home media[edit]

Despite being theatrically released from Lions Gate Films, Van Wilder was released via VHS and DVD by Artisan Entertainment on August 20, 2002. The DVD was presented in rated and unrated editions, both editions containing a cropped full-frame transfer, and a widescreen version in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The two-disc set also contained deleted scenes, outtakes, three Burly Bear TV specials, a Comedy Central: Reel Comedy TV special, "Bouncing Off the Walls" music video performed by Sugarcult, trailers, and other promotional material like television ads and poster art.

On November 28, 2006, in a way of promoting the sequel to Van Wilder, The Rise of Taj, Lions Gate Home Entertainment released a 2-disc special edition DVD with new bonus features including a "Drunken Idiot Kommentary" (featuring National Lampoon editors Steven Brykman and Mason Brown), behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with the cast and crew.

The film was also released on Blu-ray on August 21, 2007 which had almost the same features as the 2-disc special edition DVD. Also included (and exclusive to the Blu-ray edition) is the "Blu-Book Exam", an interactive game that focuses on Van Wilder trivia questions, plus a series of "Blu-line" options including a pop-up film-progression menu that allows you to set bookmarks and skip around the feature film. The film was released on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on August 14, 2018.[6]


A sequel, entitled The Rise of Taj, followed this, centering on the character of Taj Mahal Badalandabad (Kal Penn); the film was released theatrically in 2006.


A direct-to-DVD prequel to this film was also released in 2009, entitled Freshman Year; the film follows Van (Jonathan Bennett) as he deals with his freshman year of college.


  1. ^ "NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VAN WILDER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. February 22, 2002. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  3. ^ Tucker, Reed (May 19, 2014). "The real-life Van Wilder". New York Post. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  4. ^ "National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  5. ^ "Van Wilder". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  6. ^ "High Def Digest | Blu-ray and Games News and Reviews in High Definition". Retrieved June 12, 2018.

External links[edit]