National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: Party Liaison 

In the recent trend of gross-out comedies, some hit the mark but most miss and end up lacking the certain quality or originality that started the genre. National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: Party Liaison, in the most part, lands in the better part of the genre. Having said that, many reviews that I have seen have slated this film – it seems almost as if giving this film a good review is almost admitting that you enjoy irrelevant humour at a base level. In that case; guilty as charged. 

Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) is many things; a charmer, slick and with just enough good fortune to stay in college for seven years. However, things eventually catch up with him and his father Van Snr (Tim Matheson) decides enough is enough and cuts off all funds to his son, including his tuition fee.  

Luckily Van a resourceful guy, with appeal to both sexes; women want to date him and the guys just want to hang out with him. His top-less tutors business was only short-lived so he resolves to doing what he does best – partying. He’s the king of partying and has enough contacts to allow avenue closed to others to open just for him (well, seven years at college will do that to you). So he decides to offer his services as a party liaison to all and the money he makes helps to keep him in college.  

This behaviour leads to a reporter for the college newspaper, Gwen Pearson (Tara Reid) becoming interested in him as a story, much to the dismay of her anally retentive boyfriend Richard Bagg (Daniel Cosgrove).  

Can Van keep making enough money to stay in college whilst avoiding the wrath of his archenemy Professor McDoogle (Paul Gleason) and save Gwen from spending the rest of her life with a loser? 

This is a surprisingly funny film and – bearing in mind that the version I watched was the un-rated USA one – some of the jokes are amongst the grossest seen to date. One in particular will ensure that you never eat another éclair again. This type of humour is not for everyone, but the script does include some genuinely funny one-liners and characters (even though they are stereotypical ones).  

Performance wise, Ryan Reynolds as Van Wilder is great. He actually reminds one of an early Chevy Chase, with the same mannerisms and charm. There’s also a lot of Jason Lee in there as well. He does carry the film a great deal and is comparable to Chevy’s character in Caddyshack. Cool, confident and totally aloof.  Tara Reid is good as Gwen, with enough sex appeal for any red-blooded male. Paul Gleason plays the same character he does over and over – but he does it well every time. Talk about being type cast since The Breakfast Club.  

It was nice to see Tim Matheson again and its almost as if he is the older version of Eric Stratton (Rush Chairman – and damn glad to meet you!) character he played in National Lampoon’s Animal House. Ironically, that character is the original version of Van. 

National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: Party Liaison is crude, crass and more than a little similar to Animal House (with Van singularly replacing most of the Delta frat house!) but its also funny. It’s definitely not for everyone. Unlike The Sweetest Thing, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: Party Liaison actually makes you care about the characters, which was the secret of There’s Something About Mary. Great fun if you can stomach the éclair bit!!

 Score 7/10