Re-creation, Not Recreation

'Van Wilder 2' accurately depicts the worst elements, clichés of college comedies

While watching this freakishly standardized Crazy College Cut-Cup Comedy, I was taken by a thought: Why, after filming the first half of this movie, did the producers continue to film the second half rather than commit some form of ritual suicide, arranging their corpses to spell out "shame and remorse"?

Perhaps it's because the executive producer is Kal Penn, who also stars in this movie. Perhaps it's because there aren't enough laugh-free comedies about outsiders who just don't fit in and who organize a ragtag band of nerds and misfits to take on the popular kids. Perhaps it's because a film wherein the most beautiful girl on campus leaves the wealthiest and most powerful boy and takes up with the clever and large-hearted outsider has never truly been made. Perhaps it was simply one of those situations where no one was available to say "no."

Indeed, VW2:TroT seems like the worst movie of the last 32 months, years or millennia. Not only is the plot a pastiche of every other college comedy ever made; the film's characters are so thinly written that they make one-dimensional objects seem subtly shaded and complex. There's Sadie (Holly Davidson), who bravely puts her best tits forward in pursuit of showing her breasts. There's Gethin (Anthony Cozens), who was probably found in an old box of stock characters from Revenge of the Nerds 7: Nerds Versus Predator. And there's Simon (Steven Rathman), who, lacking even a check-box excuse for character, is given an 11-inch man-part so as to make him the center of a joke so obvious that if it were the current state of the Iraq war, even President Bush would admit that things aren't going well.

Together, they form an outlaw frat and oh my god no no no why why why? Just take everything you think is going to happen, viciously remove any amusement, humor or purpose, and write your own plot summary.

I was at first baffled as to how a film could be so nullified of any entertainment value and yet so systematically put forward every single scene, plot twist and personage found in the college comedy genre.

And that's when I realized: Van Wilder 2 is NOT a college comedy! It's a re-enactment of a college comedy. In a movie, you want some surprises. But a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg only works if you know everything that's going to happen in advance. And Van Wilder has that! There are literally no surprises!

The mode of appreciation in this case is completely different. Things should seem contrived, obvious and trite. If you find yourself laughing, the re-enactment has not worked. The important thing in the re-enactment is not entertainment value; it's accuracy: The re-creation must include all the important moments of the original, exactly as they occurred, only without the danger and excitement.

And to that end, VW2 is sheer genius. Will the evil head of the evil frat house full of evil upper-crust twits meet an inglorious end? By Belushi's beard, yes! Will the nerdy boy find oral sexuality with the hot girl? Well, duh! That's what happened in the movies that VW2 is re-creating! Will the beginning of each scene make clear what will happen by the end? In other reviews, I'd avoid giving something away. In this one, I can offer assurances: Yes, Taj and company prevail, get the girls and utter at least two dozen euphemisms for "vagina." In fact, after one tremendously obvious euphemism, they actually say, "I was talking about the vagina." Just in case you didn't get it!

This Animal House-with-an-English-setting, this Revenge-of-the-Nerds-for-the-mentally-challenged, merely looks like a brain-dead, lifeless attempt at comedy by people who are so defeated by the world that they actually put their names on this. In fact, it's highbrow experimental filmmaking: It's the fine art of accurate representation posing as the coarse crap of a lowbrow laugher.

Even the cinematographer is in on the joke (which is on you, the audience): Whereas true comedies are brightly lit, this whole affair is shot in rainy-day colors with the grim determinism of Donald Rumsfeld pretending that he hasn't already been fired. It's as though the very texture of the film is saying, "See, we got through this."

It's a march to the trenches of perfectly re-created sub-mediocrity. I applaud you, directors, writers, gaffers and best boy of Van Wilder The Second, for never breaking character, never winking, just remorselessly making a film that no one could enjoy. You sacrificed yourself so that there would be one complete document of every trope, cliché and wooden moment ever committed to celluloid by the legions of ne'er-do-wells who have foisted the whole post-Animal House genre upon us. You have created a new genre unto itself: the re-enactment film.

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