March 29, 2007

DVD Review: Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj

Where to begin? I saw this when it reared its ugly head in theaters back in December. I couldn't recommend it, although I did see a few things that may be worthy of a view. Watching it for a second time on DVD, I am not sure I can even say that. I guess the problem starts with making a sequel that doesn't contain the title character, although they try very hard to mention his name every few minutes. I assume that is to make sure you remember you are watching a Van Wilder movie and that you didn't actually walk in on the neighboring screening of Turistas (which opened the same weekend, and had the same effect on audiences). If you are in the mood for a dreadfully predictable and particularly dull time, this may be the movie for you.

The story, such as it is, follows Taj across the pond, following in his father's footsteps at Camford University. Here he is the butt of a joke which sends him from the most prestigious frat on campus to the rundown barn, and its assemblage of rejects.

Seeing these poor souls and their lack of pride gives Taj an idea. He sets out to do to them what Van apparently did to him in the first movie. He takes these guys and gal and builds up their image. It's funny — as I watched this setup get put into motion, with the frat competition for the cup, and snooty stuck up frat assured of victory while Taj's rejects lament their chances, I could not help but think of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, you know, the one with all the houses competing for a cup. It is pretty much the same thing here, the underdog has to prove to themselves that they are worth it and then they can overcome any obstacle.

Of course, you can't honestly go into something like this with high expectations. You would just be setting yourself up for disappointment. All that I really wanted from this was a few laughs, some crude jokes, a touch of gratuitous nudity, what anyone would want from a Van Wilder sequel from National Lampoon. Sure, I got that, but I also got a film that was confused as to whether it wanted to be a sex comedy or an against the odds tale of underdog triumph. This confusion led to a movie without a focus and the comedy was the victim. Sure there are some lovely women, and frat house humor, but it doesn't pull the movie together.

The one thing I will say in its defense is that I think Kal Penn has potential as an actor. Once he can step out of these low-grade comedies he has the potential to step into bigger and better roles. He has an easy going charm and a low key charisma that works very well, he has good screen presence and comic timing.

Audio/Video. The usual fine transfer is present here. There is nothing in the film that would tax your system. Nothing to complain about.

Extras. There are a few fluffy extras to contend with.

  • Unrated Feature. Yes, this is a victim of that marketing trend known as "unrated." It adds a minute to the runtime, but I couldn't tell you what the additions were, probably just a little more time spent lingering on the gratuitous nudity.
  • Union Jack-offs: The Making of the Rise of Taj. This is a little fluff piece on the making of the film, with an all important look at the use of phony dog testicles.
  • On the Set in Romania: Kal Penn Tours "The Barn." Here is some more on the set footage with Kal showing around the frat used by the Cock & Bulls.
  • Gag Reel. A fee minutes of flubbed lines, nothing special.
  • Deleted Scenes. Seven minutes of cutting room scraps, again, nothing special.
  • Music Videos: "Get Steady" by Jonny Lives, "Heads Will Role" by Marion Raven. A couple of lame videos for a couple of lame songs.
Bottomline. If you are starved for something to see, I guess this will do, otherwise I would just rewatch the first film, or take a better Kal Penn flick, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. This one does not offer much in the way of laughs or interest.

Not Recommended.


Post a Comment