Van Wilder

For the Dutch musician, see Philip van Wilder.
National Lampoon's
Van Wilder

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Walt Becker
Produced by
Written by
  • Brent Goldberg
  • David T. Wagner
Music by David Lawrence
Cinematography James Bagdonas
Edited by Dennis M. Hill
Distributed by Artisan Entertainment
Release dates
  • April 5, 2002 (2002-04-05)
Running time
93 minutes[1]
  • Germany
  • United States
Language English
Budget $5 million[2]
Box office $38.3 million[2]

National Lampoon's Van Wilder (released internationally as Van Wilder: Party Liaison) is a 2002 romantic comedy film directed by Walt Becker and written by Brent Goldberg and David T. Wagner. This movie was inspired by the real life experiences of Bert Kreischer while he attended Florida State University.

National Lampoon's Van Wilder stars Ryan Reynolds as the title character alongside Tara Reid, Kal Penn, and Tim Matheson. The film follows the exploits of its lead character Van Wilder, a seventh year senior, who has made his life goal in helping undergrads at Coolidge College succeed in life. An article is then written for the campus newspaper by a fellow student, Gwen Pearson, played by Reid, bringing to light Van Wilders college adventures. This attracts the attention of Van's father, played by Matheson, which leads to his tuition being cut off. Van Wilder becomes embroiled in a relationship between Gwen and her unsavory boyfriend, Richard "Dick" Bagg (Daniel Cosgrove) and his struggle to graduate. Van tries various schemes to earn enough money to pay his tuition and graduate, with help from Gwen and the rest of the student body, except a couple of grudging enemies who attempt to sabotage his efforts. After several trials and tribulations, including a lawsuit for getting under-age minors intoxicated, Van successfully graduates, earns his father's forgiveness, and reunites with Gwen.


Vance “Van” Wilder, Jr. (Ryan Reynolds) is a charismatic and popular senior in his seventh year at Coolidge College. With no intention to graduate, Van spends his days roaming around campus in his customized golf cart, posing nude for figure drawing classes, organizing soirees for his peers and interviewing for a new assistant, whom he eventually finds in the sexually repressed Taj Badalandabad (Kal Penn). Upon learning that his son is still in school, Van’s father, Vance Wilder Sr. (Tim Matheson), decides to sever Van’s financial support citing that “sometimes you have to recognize a poor investment, and simply cut your losses.” Faced with disenrollment due to unpaid tuition, Van seeks a payment extension as a favor from Deloris, the registrar. Knowing Van’s sexual prowess, the elderly administrator coerces Van to have sex with her in exchange for an extension. Afterwards, Deloris hands him the paperwork for an extension, which Van realizes is all he needed to ask for in the first place.

While pausing at a strip club, Van schemes to begin a tutoring program for Coolidge students using topless strippers as the instructors, incentivizing the students to succeed in their tutoring sessions. The endeavor is short-lived, however, when the strip club owner demands the women employed by his club return to work. Meanwhile Gwen Pearson (Tara Reid) is a star reporter for the campus newspaper. While her articles are well-written, they do not generate interest from the student body. Her editor assigns her to get an “unattainable” human interest story on Van Wilder, which she reluctantly accepts.

Out of options, Van is approached by the Lambda Omega Omega fraternity, offering to pay him several thousand dollars to throw them a blowout party and boost their popularity. Van agrees, throwing them a hit 1970s-themed roller disco party. Overhearing two of the Lambdas expressing their excitement over the party’s success and their satisfaction with Van’s work, Gwen writes a story crediting Van as the host of the party. Van resents the story, having intended for the student body to believe that the Lambda’s threw the party believing they deserved such recognition. Gwen apologizes, and Van agrees to sit down with Gwen for the follow-up piece her editor had assigned for the cover of the graduation edition; annoying Gwen when he repeatedly claims their interviews are actually dates.

Gwen’s boyfriend, Richard “Dick” Bagg (Daniel Cosgrove) is a pre-medical student and the president of his fraternity Delta Iota Kappa, or DIK. As he learns of Gwen’s work with Van and suspects a growing attraction between them, he moves to sabotage their budding romance. Van and Richard exchange escalating pranks until it culminates in Van, Taj and Van’s roommate Hutch (Teck Holmes) replacing the cream filling of a batch of pastries with canine semen taken from Van’s English Bulldog Colossus.

Employing a tactic Van previously used to get her out of class earlier in the film, Gwen accesses Van’s records from the Admissions & Records office while doing background work on her piece. She learns that Van has actively avoided graduating for the past seven semesters, questioning his motives for doing so. Upset that Gwen dug into such personal details, Van parts ways with Gwen and takes an introspective look at his life.

Taj shows Van that he only needs to throw one more party to cover his fees for the semester. Meanwhile, Richard arranges to sabotage this party with Jeannie (Emily Rutherfurd), a member of a sister sorority. The night of the party, under the guise of resolving their differences, Richard, Jeannie and his fraternity’s Vice President distract Van and Hutch at the door while they smuggle underaged children into the party and get them drunk, then call a campus police officer to the scene. As the officer is leaving, believing nothing wrong has happened, two of the minors appear outside completely intoxicated. As a result, Van is arrested for selling alcohol to a minor and faces expulsion from Coolidge.

The student body pools its resources to defend Van against the charges before a university panel featuring, among others, Van’s collegiate adversary Professor McDougal (Paul Gleason), Deloris and Richard. While the law club invests time coaching Van to plead innocent to the charges, the rest of the student body works to generate support for Van.

Having taken stock of his life and what Gwen has shown him, Van goes off book during the hearing and takes responsibility for the kids at the party. He throws himself at the mercy of the court and asks that rather than expelling him they force him to graduate since he is only 18 units shy of his degree. With Professor McDougal as the swing vote, he surprises everyone by casting the 3-2 vote in favor of Van’s reinstatement.

As Van studies vigorously for the quickly-approaching finals, Gwen learns from Jeannie that not only did she and Richard frame Van, but they also slept together the night the plan was conceived. In an act of retribution, Gwen laces Richard’s ritual protein shake with a powerful laxative just prior to him taking the MCAT. The effects set in just as the exam begins, a process that disallows bathroom breaks for the two-hour exam period. Unable to hold out, Richard “dials down the middle” of his multiple-choice exam sheet and hurriedly exits the exam room, disgusting his fellow test takers with his flatulence. As he rushes to find a bathroom, he is intercepted by one of the doctors from the group meant to interview him for admission to Northwestern Medical School. Unable to hold himself any longer, Richard strips off his pants and defecates furiously into the waste basket in the room, to the disgust and revulsion of the doctors present. Van is further exonerated when Gwen publishes in her graduation article about Van that Richard was actually to blame for the incident involving the drunken minors.

The student body waits with baited breath as Van makes his way through his finals. With his economics final five minutes away, Van is awoken by Taj and rushes across campus for the exam with Professor McDougal. Van utilizes the entire exam period, finishing with a defeated attitude. He awaits the results of the exam, which are personally delivered by McDougal himself, who informs him that he passed and will thus graduate. McDougal notes that he had been so hard on him all those years because he believed Van wasn't living up to his potential, Van responds that he thought McDougal had just been upset over him "fooling around" with McDougal's daughter.

In appropriate fashion, the university celebrates Van’s graduation with a soiree held in Van’s honor. Van’s father appears, admitting he was wrong and expressing his pride in Van’s success. Gwen then arrives, reuniting with Van.



National Lampoon's Van Wilder
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released 26 March 2002
Recorded 2000, 2001
Genre Soundtrack
Length 45:42
Label Ultimatum Records, Artemis Records
Producer Gwen Bethel Riley and Chris Violette

The soundtrack album was released on March 26, 2002. It omits the song "Hello" by Sugarbomb, "Authority Song" by Jimmy Eat World, and "Stuck in America" by Sugarcult. Other artists with songs omitted from the soundtrack included Atomic Kitten, Michelle Branch, Sprung Monkey, Bird 3, Spymob, Mint Royale, and Tahiti 80.

  1. "Roll On" - The Living End (Chris Cheney)
  2. "Bleed American" - Jimmy Eat World (Jimmy Eat World)
  3. "Hit the Ground" - 6gig (6gig)
  4. "Bouncing Off the Walls" - Sugarcult (Sugarcult)
  5. "I'm a Fool" - American Hi-Fi (Stacy Jones)
  6. "Girl On the Roof" - David Mead
  7. "Things Are Getting Better" - N*E*R*D (Chad Hugo, Pharrell)
  8. "Okay" - Swirl 360 (Kenny & Denny Scott, Tonio K)
  9. "Blind Spot" - Transmatic (Transmatic)
  10. "Makes No Difference" - Sum 41 (Sum 41)
  11. "At Auntie Tom's" - Fuzz Townshend (Fuzz Townshend, Matt Machin, Roger Charlery)
  12. "Little Man (2002 Mix)" - Sia (Sia Furler, Sam Frank)
  13. "Start Over" - Abandoned Pools (Tommy Walter, Pete Pagonis)
  14. "You Get Me" - Michelle Branch (Michelle Branch)


Box office

Van Wilder opened with $7,302,913, ranking number 6 in the domestic box office. It grossed $21,305,259 domestically with $16,970,224 overseas for a worldwide total of $38,275,483. Based on a $5 million budget, the film was a box office success.[2]

Critical reception

The film received negative reviews from critics, but positive reactions from audiences. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 19% based on 96 reviews, with a 73% audience score. The critics describe the film as being "A derivative gross-out comedy that's short on laughs." Despite the consensus, it has become a cult classic [3] On Metacritic, the film has a 26 out of 100 score based on 24 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[4]

Home media

Despite being theatrically released from Lions Gate Films, Van Wilder was released via VHS and DVD by Artisan Entertainment on August 20, 2002. The DVD was presented in rated and unrated editions, both editions containing a cropped full-frame transfer, and a widescreen version in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The two-disc set also contained deleted scenes, outtakes, three Burly Bear TV specials, a Comedy Central: Reel Comedy TV special, "Bouncing Off the Walls" music video performed by Sugarcult, trailers, and other promotional material like television ads and poster art.

On November 28, 2006, in a way of promoting the sequel to Van Wilder, The Rise of Taj, Lions Gate Home Entertainment released a 2-disc special edition DVD with new bonus features including a "Drunken Idiot Kommentary" (featuring National Lampoon editors Steven Brykman and Mason Brown), behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with the cast and crew.

The film was also released on Blu-ray on August 21, 2007 which had almost the same features as the 2-disc special edition DVD. Also included (and exclusive to the Blu-ray edition) is the "Blu-Book Exam", an interactive game that focuses on Van Wilder trivia questions, plus a series of "Blu-line" options including a pop-up film-progression menu that allows you to set bookmarks and skip around the feature film.


A sequel, entitled The Rise of Taj, followed this, centering on the character of Taj Mahal Badalandabad (Kal Penn); the film was released theatrically in 2006.


A direct-to-DVD prequel to this film was also released in 2009, entitled Freshman Year; the film follows Van (Jonathan Bennett) as he deals with his freshman year of college.


External links

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