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Daredevil (2003)
Ahhh....It's good to be back. Having spent the last 9 months or so in a review writing semi-retirement, I have been moved by my viewing of Daredevil to begin writing reviews again., 18 February 2003

This film, and again I use that term loosely, opens explaining how Mat Murdock, aka The Daredevil, lived as a boy. His father, having been a prize fighter in his day, has fallen from his prestige and turned to being a mafia bully (no, it's not Rocky Balboa.) During a bully session of his own, young Mat has been told that his father is nothing but a leg breaker and he just doesn't want to believe it. When Mat just happens to be wandering home and stumbles onto his father during one of the aforementioned leg breaking sessions, he gets angry and runs away. Skateboarding through an industrial park, Mat almost gets impaled by a forklift that barely misses him only to tear open a toxic waste drum and coats Mat with the contents. Blinded by the waste, young Mat looses his sight, only to develop heightening his other 4 senses.

This, by the way, is where the movie goes wrong.

You know what, apparently loosing your eyesight allows you to jump hundreds of feet from building to building. And also allows you to spin around from a fan in a nightclub. Please. Not to mention the fact that we never see the development of `The Daredevil.' The movie does show 4 or 5 different stages of Mat's life as he grows, but never showing us why he decides to become a crime fighter. I hated Spiderman, but one thing I did like about it was how they showed us how, and why, he developed into the webbed one. They showed the development of his suit, funny scene it was too. But The Daredevil We last see Mat learning to slide down poles and do `magical, superhero things,' but we never see him develop his suit. We only discover later that his father's fighting name was The Devil, and he wore red trunks, explaining the Daredevil name and suit color. And what's with the way he sleeps. I had to reach deep down and think about it, only to assume he sleeps in a water filled sound poof tub to help drown out the outside sounds his hearing picks up, I assume I'm right about that one.

By the way, what's with Ben Affleck's hair? I guess a blind guy wouldn't have the best hair cut, but he does have friends you know. You'd think one of them would buy him a brush or something.

Please someone tell me what's so hot about Jennifer Garner!?! Am I missing something? Everyone's just so excited because the art director decided to put little ‘ol B-cup Jennifer into a push up bra to make her breasts look bigger. Of course Alias herself looked decent in her fighting scenes, but lacks any real acting skills. Not even the awesome power of Michael Clarke Duncan could save this one. He was good but not great, and couldn't save this sinking ship.

Now Colin Farrel, on the other hand. He is cool! The roll of Bullseye was great for him. I really think this guy is going places in film, hopefully as 007.

I would have liked to see more of the creation of The Daredevil himself, as well as more of Bullseye. Also, this movie could have spent a little more time in the editing booth. There are many a scene where the cables holding the actors, and spinning the actors can be seen, as well as a few instances where dialog was heard, but no actors mouths are moving.

So ends another review of a lackluster movie. In a year producing such great films as T3, the Matrix sequels, and of course the final installment of The Lord of the Rings, Daredevil will truly be forgotten, and hopefully die on the operating table to keep from spawning sequels.

Loser (2000)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Amy Heckerling, writer/director of Clueless and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, tells another story through the eyes of teen., 2 July 2002

This time she introduces us to Paul Tannek, played by Jason Biggs. Paul is leaving his small town roots and moving to New York when he gets a scholarship. When Paul really doesn't fit in and is branded a loser, he is forced to live off campus. While struggling with his off campus life and trying to maintain his GPA for his scholarship, Paul falls for a gothic chick named Dora (Mena Suvari.) But Paul's luck just seems to get worse when Dora is madly in love with their English professor (Greg Kinnear).

Loser is like a lot of other teen romantic comedies that have arrived in the last couple months. You know, the ones where the film has the same premise and very little laughs? Take Boys and Girls starring Freddie Prinze Jr, for example. Loser has a smart cast and like a lot of Heckerling films, a great soundtrack. But I fear the subject matter here just isn't funny.

I really believe that this film should have traveled down the screw-ball comedy lane and developed a lot more pranks, revenge strategies and romantic tension. This routine worked for a lot of college screwball classics including Revenge of the Nerds and Up the Creek. These films developed their losers as victims of their environment and we really wanted to see them survive. What Heckerling does with Loser is brings us a sweet melancholy that makes us choke. The film is way to tender to even arrive at any of the laughs. Sure, I felt sorry for Dora and Paul but I was never near the cheering stage in which I would want them to survive.

If I had to pick a favorite member of the cast it would be Greg Kinnear who once more shines in a dreary comedy. Anyone remember Dear God? In this film, Kinnear is a great jerk who loves to ravish college coeds. Within Kinnear's portrayal you can see the little boy forced into being a man. He is immature and quite the jerk. It's definitely a great performance.

Don't blame the cast in this movie, though. Blame the writing. It's a loser in itself.

Brunettes beware., 2 July 2002

After you see Legally Blonde and fall in love with Elle Woods, and her cute wardrobe and her helpful interior motives, you might want to do exactly what this movie's tagline: "This summer, go blonde!" Blondes may unjustly be the center of countless "dumb blonde jokes" and California-Barbie-bimbo stereotypes. Even though this movie pokes fun at those generic clichés, however, its message is more real than those assumptions and beliefs.

Reese Witherspoon plays Elle Woods, a bubble and witty sorority sister originating from the sunny California. She fits in perfectly with her sisters, due to the fact it's perfectly clear that they all spend the same amount of time on their hair and nails as she does. But when it comes time for Elle to leave her girls and roots in pursuit to follow what she believes to be the love of her life all the way to Harvard Law School, one might think she would have to do some serious readjusting. But in actuality, Elle makes the transition a breeze. She wows the admissions committee at Harvard, thanks to her extremely clever admissions video where she lays in a pool in a sequined bikini and convinces them that she would make a perfect lawyer. And, to surprise everyone she knows, SHE GETS IN! This is where the only downfall of this movie comes in. Maybe this storyline might be a little predictable with plot twists that aren't so tricky, but in the context this fun and cute story, this works just fine.

When she arrives at Harvard, Elle becomes the center of attention. Her pink pleather suit, Porsche convertible, spiky rhinestone heels and bouncy blonde hair don't exactly fit in with the argyle socks and sweater vests that the Harvard Law Students choose to sport. Unfortunately, these differences don't bring Elle the attention she wants. She learns that gaining the man of her dreams back will be more than she bargained for.

The story provides Elle with an open mind and a warm heart. No matter what might get in her way, she puts that behind her and allows nothing to stop her. Reese really puts this character all together into someone who isn't artificial, a fake, or even a heartless person. She teaches women to be strong and follow what you believe. The audience can't help but love her and her little pooch, Bruiser, that she decks out in all the latest doggy attire. This girl really has it all.

This movie is pure fun, and one could sense that these actors and actresses had a blast making it. With a cameo from Raquel Welch, Elle's big-man-on-campus jock of a boyfriend, and countless scenes in a nail salon, this movie also comes with a ball of laughs and an enlightened frame of mind. Even at this movie's premiere, the stars walked out onto a pink carpet and free manicures were provided for all. Whether you are looking for a date movie, or just something you can crack a few smiles at, go see this film. But beware of its deeper meaning and how long you keep that bleach in for!

11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Much like the spirit of films like The Hurricane and Glory, Men of Honor grips us and makes us really feel for a man struggling to make his dream come true., 2 July 2002

Men of Honor stars Cuba Gooding Jr., as real life Navy Diver Carl Brashear who defied a man's Navy to become the first African American Navy Diver. Sometimes by his side and sometimes his adversary there was one man who Carl Brashear really admired. His name was Master Chief Billy Sunday (Robert DeNiro). Sunday in a lot of ways pushed, aggravated and helped Carl become the man he wanted to be.

I loved Cuba in this film. His portrayal here is as liberating and as powerful as Denzel Washington was in The Hurricane. Through every scene we can see his passion, motivation and stubbornness to achieve his dream. We can see the struggle within in him as he embarks to make his father proud. I also loved how the director created and brought forth a lot of tension in some of the key diving scenes. Brashear's encounter with a submarine during a salvage mission is heart-stopping and brilliant.

The only fault I could see would have to lie in the supporting cast. Cuba and DeNiro's characters are very intricate and exciting to watch. Which does make you a little sad when they have to butt heads with such two-dimensional supporting characters. The evil Lt. Cmdr. Hanks, Sunday's wife (Charlize Theron), the eccentric diving school colonel (Hal Holbrook) and Cuba's love interest are the characters I found to not have very much depth. What could have made these characters more substantial and more effective was a little more time to develop them. Why was that colonel always in his tower? How come Sunday's wife was so bitter and always drunk?

Another curious question has to be this. What happened to Carl Brashear's wedding? I mean if this film is chronicling this man's life wouldn't his wedding be an important event? Maybe it's just me. Men of Honor, however, is a perfect example of the triumph and faith that the human spirit envelops. This film will inspire and make you feel for this man's struggle. Which I do believe was the reason this powerful story was told. My hat goes off to you Carl Brashear. I really admire your strength.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Queen of the Damned is alternately an aggressive film and then tame, but it never finds equilibrium., 24 June 2002

The soundtrack is blaring with punk rock through the entire movie, during some of its music-free moments there is filler sounds of screaming and thunder that seem to be coming from hell and beyond. What is ultimately the most notable is deciding whether the special effects or the dialogue is cheesier in this B-grade vampire movie. Allegedly based on Anne Rice's The Vampire's Chronicles, the movie certainly raises the question on whether director Michael Rymer has ever read the source material. There is some kind of plot here, but the reckless visual style never is able to distinguish anything of storytelling clarity, especially in the final third of the movie.

Stuart Townsend plays the multi-centuries old vampire Lestat (there's a reason why Tom Cruise didn't come back), whom in the present day has become a punk rocker in effort to capture a legion of fans. This movie however is showcasing it as the feature film debut of the 22-year old singer Aaliyah, who died tragically earlier this year. By the way, it's not her feature debut, it's not even her first `starring' role either; Romeo Must Die has those honors. Some of her fans will be disappointed that she doesn't arrive with her first speaking scene until the first hour into the movie.

There is an adrenaline of excitement when Aaliyah does make her arrival which sends the screen blazing. As the 6,000-year old vampire Akaska, the late singer has an electrifying introduction, but it is too bad however that the movie's thrills are few and far between. Townsend has a few amusing scenes where he invites a couple of groupies into his private sanctuary. The groupies are hot for this punk rocker, but Lestat is hot for their blood which is fortunate because some of the nastiness does generate some chuckles.

Blood is a welcome palette of color in this movie because it is photographed in dreary, dark gray-blue tones. The scenery is often very bland, and so after awhile it becomes easy to welcome bad dialogue in order to spark some kind of amusement. Cheesy sample dialogue: `There's nothing [left] but the cold, dark wasteland of eternity,' Lestat bemuses, bored with his immortality. He thankfully has a publicist and fanfare that will encourage him with compliments like, `You're bold like your music!' A vampire scholar played by Marguerite Moreau (in need of some of Mariah Carey's acting tips) tracks down Lestat in order to learn from him, and then becomes seduced by his black charms. Unsurprisingly, there is little interest between them.

The real heat in the film exists between Lestat and Akaska, whom together momentarily resuscitate a movie in danger of flat-lining. The scenes between them, especially the ones that involve them drinking from each other's blood, are morbid but teasingly erotic. Also in this movie exists scenes of underground night clubs that patronize the vampire culture, and surprise, they are all into grunge rock. What is worse however is that much of the movie's sensationalistic scenes are filmed and edited like a bad grunge rock music video. Also, once you get past the thin and unrealized potential of the plot, there isn't much left here that will make you give a damn.

John Q (2002)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Too bad, this could have been something., 24 June 2002

When director Nick Cassavetes went to work on John Q, I'm sure

his heart was in the right place. He accepted this job because, with his daughter Sasha on a donated organ recipient list, he felt a connection with the characters and situations presented in the movie.

Obviously, the subject matter stuck a resonant chord for others involved in the production, as well. The cast includes such notable names as Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, and James Woods. Yet, for all of those good intentions, John Q turns out to be hopelessly mediocre - a poorly scripted, preachy fable that forgets about unfolding a coherent, believable story in its zeal to spread propaganda.

John Q tells the story of a man, John Archibald (Denzel Washington), who is having trouble making ends meet. Since his work week has been cut from 40 hours to 20 hours, he can't keep up on the family's car payments, and eventually losses the car. When his son, Mike, collapses on a baseball field and is diagnosed as needing a heart transplant, John is confident that things will be okay, because he has medical insurance. Unfortunately, it turns out that his Tier II coverage doesn't cover $250,000 operations. The hospital director, Rebecca Payne (Anne Heche), refuses to put Mike's name on the organ recipient list until John can cover the $75,000 down payment. The cardiologist, Dr. Turner (James Woods), claims that the matter is out of his hands. But John's wife, Denise (Kimberly Elise), screams at him that he has

to do something. So he does - he takes everyone in the hospital's emergency room hostage. When the police, led by the crusty negotiator Grimes (Robert Duvall) and the chief of police, Monroe (Ray Liotta), arrive, he presents his demand: he will release the hostages when his son has a new heart. Otherwise, he will start killing them. Oh yea, that's fair to the other thousands of people on the donor list.

John Q's underlying concept has a great deal of relevance in today's world, where the term "medical coverage" is rarely mentioned without an

accompanying, profane adjective. Yet Cassavetes and screenwriter James

Kearns take this important issue and make it the fulcrum of a story that is divorced from reality by so many contrivances that it's almost laughable. From the moment when John storms into the hospital and takes over, believability goes out the window. There is no way that a lone man, untrained in fighting and with only a small gun, could take over the wing of a hospital, hold off the entire Chicago police force, and turn into an instant folk hero while threatening to kill innocent people. But that's not all - we also get loads of corny dialogue and several pointless subplots. A power struggle develops between Grimes and Monroe, but this is just filler.

And there are feeble attempts to satirize media zeal in the person of a TV reporter who's as concerned with his appearance as with getting the story. Films like Die Hard and The Negotiator have offered similar subplots to better effect. Here, they're just an annoying form of background noise.

Speaking of annoying background noise - John Q's soundtrack, which features jarring instrumentals and at least one grossly out-of-place ballad, should have been replaced or re-edited at some point during the film's post-production phase. It's almost as if composer Aaron Zigman turned in his score without watching the movie. Normally, for me to notice it, a soundtrack has to be very good or very bad. Here, it's the latter case.

There are times when acting almost redeems this movie - almost, but not

quite. Denzel Washington is convincing as a desperate father who has run out of legal options and can think of no other alternative but to point a gun and hope no one calls his bluff. Robert Duvall has no trouble playing a veteran cop who probably loves the smell of napalm in the morning. Anne Heche and Ray Liotta don't test their ranges in their portrayals of dislikable individuals. James Woods offers an effective turn as a doctor caught between his oath and the system. Solid support is provided by Kimberly Elise as John's supportive wife and Daniel E. Smith as his dying son. There are no Oscar-worthy performances to be found here, but acting is not one of John Q's faults.

Aside from the sheer implausibility of the principal action, the film's most glaring weakness lies in its inability to state its case with any degree of subtlety. People, even those who agree with the political doctrine being espoused, don't like sermons. And that's precisely what John Q turns into - a two-hour attempt to indoctrinate viewers into believing that the current health care system is in desperate need of reform (to me, this seems self-evident). The movie isn't content to show the inadequacies of the system - it talks about them endlessly in speeches that would have been at home in a public service announcement. Not only is this tedious, it's unnecessary - the events happening to John are sufficient to illustrate the situation.

At its heart, John Q is a drama, but the movie frames several sections as action sequences, complete with artificially generated tension. There's a scene in which a sharpshooter climbs through the hospital's air conditioning ducts in order to get a shot at John. This is handled so badly (like something in a direct-to-cable B-movie thriller) that I found myself cringing. Sadly, that's the way I reacted to much of this movie - a good idea with noble intentions gone awry because of a poorly crafted screenplay and uneven direction. Next time Nick Cassavetes wants to tell a deeply personal story, he should rely on something that is less obviously manufactured by a connect-the-dots screenwriter.

Ice Age (2002)
The animated Ice Age has more than a couple of visually exciting sequences. Well done story, but just not quite Toy Story quality., 24 June 2002

A glacier slide inside a cavernous ice mountain sends its three characters whoosh down a never-ending wet-slide tube that has enough kick to dazzle kids the same way mature audience may be dazzled by the star gate sequence that closes 2001: A Space Odyssey. Miles apart in vision, but it is a scene of great rush and excitement nonetheless. A magnificent opening sequence also takes place where a furry squirrel-like critter attempts to hide his precious acorn. You've probably seen this scene in the trailer, but as it takes place he starts a domino effect when the mountain starts cracking and, results, an avalanche. The horror just keeps going as the critter tries to outrun the impossible.

The movie traces two characters, a mammoth named Manfred (Ray Romano) and a buck-toothed sloth (John Leguizamo) as they try to migrate south. They find a human baby they adopt and then decide to track the parent figures down to return to them. They are joined by a saber tiger named Diego (Denis Leary) whose predatory intentions is to bring the baby to his tiger clan, by leading the mammoth and the sloth into a trap. Diego's meat-eating family wants the mammoth most of all, but Diego's learned values of friendship make easy what choice to ultimately make at the end.

There are fatalistic natural dangers of the world along the trip, including an erupted volcano and a glacier bridge that threatens to melt momentarily that is reminiscent of the castle escape in Shrek. Characters contemplate on why they're in the Ice Age, while they could have called it The Big Chill or the Nippy Era. Some characters wish for a forthcoming global warming. Another great line about the mating issues between girlfriends: `All the great guys are never around. The sensitive ones get eaten.' Throwaway lines galore, whimsical comedy and light-fingered adventure makes this one pretty easy to watch. Also, food is so scarce for the nice vegetarians that they consider dandelions and pine cones as `good eating.'

The vocal talents of Romano, Leguizamo and Leary make good on their personas, while the children will delight in their antics, the adults will fancy their riffs on their own talents. There is some mild violence and intense content, but kids will be jazzed by the excitement and will get one of their early introductions of the age-old battle of good versus evil, and family tradition and friendship are strong thematic ties. The animators also make majestic use of background landscapes that are coolly fantastic.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Do yourself a favor, and stay away from this one., 24 June 2002

You know you're in movie hell when not only is the feature desperately unfunny but it is also reprehensible to the senses. The New Guy is a screechy new comedy that features DJ Qualls as a geek outcast that tries to make a name for himself at school. His one goal in life is to get expelled, and after that his ambition is a little hazy. He does make attempts to get a date with a cheerleader by offering money to have some dinner with him. Already, not only is the movie crudely unfunny but the hero is a creep.

The movie flashes to bits of Eddie Griffin as a prison inmate, and he scares the guards and just about everyone else by making stunted whiplash noises that are pitched from the soundtrack and provided by sound editors. Get it? Everyone around him is whipped because He's the man! When Qualls finds himself in prison, Griffin takes him from under his wing and shows him the ropes, and there is a gag where Qualls is literally climbing the ropes and Griffin lights it up with a match. This isn't dope comedy, this is comedy on dope.

For the life of me, it is near impossible to make coherent sense of The New Guy in the way it cuts back between Qualls' high school experiences and prison. It's not clear whether they are flashbacks or if he was literally incarcerated after every misdemeanor he commits at school. Qualls, in one of his hijinks, videotapes the school principal on the toilet, while he experiences diarrhea and feeds the video onto all the school monitors while classmates laugh and sneer. Next shot, we find Qualls in prison with no explanation. The incompetence of this movie has it constantly cutting back and forth with no resolution to logic of what took place in the scene before. There are bad moments and then worse moments, like when the school librarian breaks the character's penis. See, he had a stiff… oh, forget it. Besides a fairly amusing parody of Braveheart and a couple of nice scenes with the appealing Eliza Dushku (who is just absolutely beautiful!). Tortured beyond belief, one wants to assault the movie screen in revenge. Lucky for you readers, you can choose from much better movies out there at the Cineplex to go see now instead of this one as long as you don't get locked out of "Spider-Man" or the new "Star Wars."

20 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
An awesome break from reality., 24 June 2002

When the government secretly hires a firm to produce a time-slowing device that would speed up a person's molecules so that they could travel at several times normal speed, a high school student ends up with the device and becomes the target of a manhunt to get it back.

Clockstoppers is the first feature film from director Jonathan Frakes

outside the Star Trek universe. The story revolves around a mysterious

watch with the power to speed the wearer's molecules and allow him to move faster than anything around him does. Scientist Earl Dopler sent a prototype of the device to friend and college professor George Gibbs to help him perfect the device. One afternoon, the watch accidentally falls into a broken toaster where George's son Zak picks up to take with him.

Zak has been trying to get a new foreign exchange student to go out with him. She finally agrees after he goes out of his way to stop some bullies from harassing her and agrees to have him come over to her house to help rake the lawn.

When he activates the watch, thinking it's a stopwatch, time slows suddenly and while taking the bag of leaves to the garbage can comes across a hissing possum. He pokes it and thinks it's dead and waltzes into Francesca's house to show her what he found that was invading the trash cans and his watch suddenly ends its time and everything goes back into standard motion. The possum isn't really dead and when he tries to explain, things get out of hand.

After figuring out what the watch does, Zak and friends go on the lam trying to escape the organization that's trying to get it back. They use similar watches, preventing him from using the watch as an escape mechanism.

Nickelodeon films, one of the production companies behind the film, have been known for good and bad movies throughout their feature film career and have managed to stumble across both an idea and a director that works. Frakes proved his capabilities with the feature film Star Trek: First Contact, a terrific film that shines among its fellow Star Trek films. Now, Frakes has branched further into the science fiction genre, stepping away from his small screen productions. He takes a potential childish and unemotional film, blends in the right amount of scientific explanation, avoids paradoxes adroitly and keeps the film excellently paced with plenty of room for enjoyment.

The performances are probably the weakest part of the film. Each actor does his very best to portray the characters realistically and perhaps their relative inexperience is a factor. Bradford has numerous credits to his short career, including Hackers, but smiles far too often for his characters needs and even when he's upset or angry, the tell-tale smile is nearby. Garcés tries her best, but with the broken English, she feels more like a caricature than a character, but she is awfully beautiful! The same goes for the third friend, Meeker, who is around for comic relief more than for dramatic necessity.

Television actors Stewart and Julia Sweeney, as Zak's mom, are capable

actors in their own rights, but for Stewart, this was a step in the wrong direction as he bounces well over the top of good taste in his rather amorphous role.

The true prize of the picture is its slow-down visual effects. Using

technology first seen in commercials to stop the action and then using a composite image to allow actors to walk freely amongst stopped figures, was a bit troublesome at first, but as the film went on the effects were better. The most notable was the frozen water droplets hanging in air while the actors interacted with them. The effect was admirably done and important only to the magnificence of the experience.

Clockstoppers is most certainly made for teens, but adults will be able to sit back and enjoy the film without feeling talked down to. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Van Wilder (2002)
36 out of 57 people found the following review useful:
National Lampoon's Van Wilder is an aggressively funny movie,unashamed by its bad taste., 24 June 2002

What this movie has and other movies lack are characters you admire and care about. The movie never succumbs to sentimentality, thankfully, and it keeps a high level of cheerfulness and humor through the entire running time. This is a movie that wants to party and have fun, where characters are in high spirits and at times a little inebriated. This is the movie that will put the National Lampoon franchise back into respectability. Not only is this movie gut-bustingly funny – if you can get past the crude visual puns like a pit-bull with what looks like a ten-pound scrotum attachment, and a crotch-enhancer pump that is mistaken for a bong – this transcendent comedy of gross manners is most affecting because it's incredibly well-made. Most college campus comedies are cheap in production value and clumsily structured. Van Wilder is exceedingly well-paced and smartly written, by writers Brent Goldberg and David T. Wagner (their love for Ferris Bueller is apparent) who know how to set up not only a joke but sequences of offhand slapstick that are irrepressibly absurd. Director Walter Becker (creator of the ingenious short-film Saving Ryan's Privates) handles the irreverent and random acts of background physical comedy with ease and panache.

The campus wild man is fittingly known as Van Wilder (played by Ryan Reynolds). Van Wilder is a guy that has friends from everywhere, from the jocks to the nerds. Reynolds finds a precarious balance between recklessness and cheerful insanity, which is crucial because he turns acts of humanitarian philanthropy into casual and spontaneous gestures without giving second thought. No job is ever too big for the man, whether it is becoming the de-facto basketball coach that inspires the school's team to win or setting up a rockin' party for the geekiest fraternity on campus. Van Wilder has enthusiastic support from everyone but his burned-out workaholic father (played by Tim Matheson, once the wild man in National Lampoon's Animal House) who decides after seven years of his son's enrollment to stop tuition payment.

Van Wilder becomes the subject of a school newspaper editorial and Tara Reid plays the snobby, uptight reporter Gwen whose ties belong to frat boy Richard Bagg (Daniel Cosgrove), who conducts hazing rituals that are crueler than anything since Animal House. When Gwen tries to get the naked truth from Van Wilder, she mostly just finds Van Wilder naked. But it's the smart rapport that develops between them that allows Van Wilder to strip Gwen's inhibitions, to let her walk on the wild side. In the background, a turf war erupts between Van Wilder and Richard.

The plotting is shameless in its methods of revenge. There are innocent people involved in the mayhem, including a scene where pre-pubescent boys raid one of Van Wilder's parties and end up barfing out of a school bus (but hey, these young boys had the time of their life until then). Richard's fraternity brothers are sent a basket full of éclairs stuffed with juices from a particular dormitory pet. In a knock-off homage to Dumb and Dumber, a character digests a bottle of colon blow right before he is to take a final exam.

The movie rarely takes a breath. It does settle for easy chuckles but goes for the comic gold, pushing past the ribbon of where comedy usually wears out in exhaust. Not every joke works, but you admire the efforts that the filmmakers went to in order to make you laugh. A virgin's first encounter with a girl that culminates in a massage oil rubdown gets more than messy and squanders too much, thus not earning any laughs. A scene where Van Wilder has to charm a raggedy and prunish administrator gets frighteningly explicit and goes on maybe one shot too many. But Van Wilder is always the man of the moment. One of the dorky characters goes to Van Wilder to ask him how to `muff dive.' Ultimately, Van Wilder is king and his rebel-bent philosophy is trippingly funny. At the end, you won't be able to remember all the funny scenes because there are just too many of them.

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