When the teen horror genre was revived with “Scream”, for the next 18 months we got decent clones with each having a different spin of their own (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”, “Halloween: H20”, “Bride of Chucky”), and then the genre just collapsed thanks to a second wave of total and utter crap (“Idle Hands”, “I Still Know…”, “Urban Legends: Final Cut”, etc.).
Back in mid-1999 “American Pie” revived the teen sex comedy but no waves have come from that, rather a steadily increasing level of crap clones which seem to be continually getting worse. Indeed, in the last three months there’s been a glut of them for some reason including the likes of “Not Another Teen Movie”, “Orange County”, “Slackers” and “Sorority Boys”. Those four were complete wastes of footage, no question but each had maybe one or two laughs and the odd unexpected moment whether it be the cameos in “Slackers” to Michael Rosenbaum getting 1-2 good lines in “Sorority Boys”.
“Van Wilder” however takes a step even lower – not only is it unfunny but quite frankly its offensive to a level not seen since last year’s “Tomcats” or “Evolution” (though thankfully not “Freddy Got Fingered” territory). Jason Schwartzmann washing the 70-something breasts of Mamie Van Doren in “Slackers” was gross but you could sit through it, in “Van” there’s a joke involving a basket of desserts which seriously made me glad I didn’t have lunch just before cause I was dry heaving.
Jokes in the likes of “American Pie 1 & 2” worked because in many cases they had a clever setup which more often than not relied on either an honest mistake (eg. superglue sequence) or the stupidity (Stifler getting pissed on) of the person who became the butt of it. Here the jokes are not just gross and unfunny, but also mean-spirited and nasty – a type of humour which only works with wit and good writing, neither of which is remotely present.
The weakly scripted gags aren’t helped by indulgent directing which doesn’t understand a little thing called ‘comic timing’ with a few jokes which had the potential to work fail due to them being overly long, flat performances whose only saving grace is the two leads (when an ex-sitcom star and Tara Reid are a film’s saving grace you know your in deep sh*t), and unoriginal elements to the extreme ranging from the forced romance to the very chaste Indian stereotype sidekick who just wants to learn about muff diving.
Not only are these characters uninteresting but they’re entirely unsympathetic – even the arrogant title character whose ‘good deed’ routine feels forced and uncredible in the extreme (despite Reynolds having shown good comic talent in the past). I was in a packed theatre when seeing this and no laughs emerged whatsoever (one or two walked out, I SO wanted to join them), even the end credit outtakes make high school practical jokes look juvenile. One of the year’s worst.