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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Harvey Glazer
Cast:
Jonathan Bennett, Kristin Cavallari, Jerry Shea, Nestor Aaron Absera, Kurt Fuller, Steve Talley, Nic Nac, Meredith Giangrande
Writing Credits:
Brent Goldberg (characters), Todd McCullough, David Wagner (characters)

Synopsis:
The man. The myth. The beginning. It's freshman year at Coolidge College and Van Wilder (Jonathan Bennett) is ready to party. To his dismay, all the girls have taken a vow of chastity and an uptight Dean (Kurt Fuller) rules the school. Van embarks on an epic crusade to land the campus hottie, Kaitlin (Kristin Cavallari) and liberate his school from sexual oppression and party dysfunction. No cheerleader will be left untouched and no keg will be left un-tapped in this hilarious prequel to the original!

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 7/14/2009

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Harv Glazer and Actors Jonathan Bennet, Nic Nac, Kristin Cavallari and Steve Talley
• “Creating the Legend: The Making of Van Wilder: Freshman Year” Featurette
• “Going Balls Out: Colossus” Featurette
• “Coolidge College: Orientation Video” Featurette
• “Decatur”
• “Teacher’s Pets”
• Bloopers
• “Van’s Party Supplies”
• Pranks 101
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Van Wilder: Freshman Year - Unrated (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 20, 2009)

For the third chapter in the Van Wilder series, we get a prequel. As implied by the title, the direct-to-video Van Wilder: Freshman Year shows the lead character’s first term in college. Van Wilder (Jonathan Bennett) heads to Coolidge College and expects a year of sex and partying.

Unfortunately, he finds a repressed, super-religious campus, as Dean Charles Reardon (Kurt Fuller) subjects the students to a regime of chastity and an absence of any vices. Not one to take disappointment lightly, Van quickly sets about to change matters. With the aid of roommate Farley Marley (Nestor Aaron Absera) and new pal Yu Dum Fok (Jerry Shea), Van works to promote sex and partying – and also to score with his dream girl Kaitlin (Kristin Cavallari). Van Wilder films, I can’t compare Freshman to them. I can’t imagine they’re any crummier than this one, though, as it offers a thoroughly witless experience.

Essentially the film consists of nothing more than a vaguely related collection of comedic bits. It jumps from one to another without any real logic or cohesion. I may have provided a plot synopsis above, but view it in the loosest possible manner, as the film barely attempts to integrate its gags into a real story.

If those jokes provided any laughs, I might feel more forgiving, but Freshman proves relentlessly unfunny. The stabs at humor usually involve various forms of bodily fluids, excrement, slapstick and sex gags. The “comedy” feels like rehashed crud from the American Pie sequels; those weren’t good either, so they don’t work any better here.

Except for the wooden Cavallari, the cast members – some of whom also show up in those bad Pie direct-to-video disasters - tend to overact relentlessly, with Bennett as the worst of the bunch. He tries to channel Ryan Reynolds – the original Van – but fails pretty miserably. I’m not a big Reynolds fan, but he does smarmy and smug well, so I can see him in this part. Bennett is just a waste of time, though. He mugs and overdoes his role in an obnoxious way that simply makes us dislike the character.

Does the unrated Freshman at least score in terms of its nudity? Not really. At least the last couple of Pie flicks included some good skin, but Freshman just throws out the occasional boob shot. There’s nothing more dynamic than that.

Overall, Freshman Year is an utter waste of time. Crass, unfunny and downright stupid, it’s lowest-common-denominator comedy at its worst.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C

Van Wilder: Freshman Year appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer looked quite good.

Colors came across well, as the movie offered nicely delineated and bright hues. Blacks seemed dark and full, while shadows were reasonably smooth. Some interiors came across as a bit dense, but those instances weren’t problematic.

Sharpness seemed fine. A few slight examples of softness and jaggies cropped up through the film, but these were minor. Overall definition looked solid. I noticed no shimmering, and edge enhancement was minor. No source flaws marred the presentation. I thought Blu-ray had spoiled me, but Freshman showed that SD-DVD can still look very nice.

I thought the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Freshman Year was perfectly decent. Examine the audio of pretty much every other comedy of this sort and you’ll know what to expect from the soundfield. It was a front-heavy affair that usually didn’t offer much more than general ambience. Don’t expect action-movie material from this restrained mix.

No issues with audio quality occurred. Speech was consistently distinct and concise, and I detected no problems with edginess or intelligibility. Effects played a minor role and never taxed the system. They displayed decent accuracy, though. Music was a more prominent participant. The track boasted good life and definition to the various tunes, as those showed solid clarity and depth. This was an unexceptional soundtrack, but it was fine for this sort of film.

When we head to the disc’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Harv Glazer and actors Jonathan Bennett, Kristin Cavallari, Nic Nac and Steve Talley. All five sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They discuss… well, not much. They joke around a lot, insult each other, and talk about how much they like parts of the movie.

All of that results in a commentary that’s forgettable at best and downright obnoxious at worst. Unfortunately, the “at worst” side dominates, as we find plenty of middle school quality taunts and very little actual information about the film. Maybe there’s not much to say about a piece of fluff like Freshman, but I’d prefer a commentary that at least attempts to tell us about the flick’s creation. This one flops in that regard.

A number of featurettes follow. Creating the Legend: The Making of Van Wilder: Freshman Year runs 17 minutes, 37 seconds and includes notes from Glazer, Bennett, Nic Nac, Cavallari, Talley, and actors Kurt Fuller, Jerry Shea, and Nestor Absera. We get notes about cast and characters, story and performances, and working with Glazer.

While not as obnoxious as the commentary, “Legend” doesn’t prove to be any more illuminating. It just regurgitates a lot of movie information with some jokes and happy talk. Skip it.

Next comes the two-minute, 57-second Going Balls Out: Colossus. It includes notes from Bennett, Cavallari, Shea, and some unnamed dog trainers/assistants. They tell us what a spoiled diva Champ the dog is. Yawn.

In the Coolidge College: Orientation Video, we get a three-minute and 22-second reel. We locate remarks from Bennett, Cavallari, Shea, Talley, Nic Nac and Fuller – in character. They talk about what the school means to them. It’s not amusing or interesting.

During the nine-minute and two-second Decatur, we get a reality show spoof. It views the cast and crew as part of a reality soap opera. Given Cavallari’s roots on Laguna Beach, this could’ve been fun. In reality, it’s pretty forgettable, though at least it’s shorter and more entertaining than the movie.

After this we find Teacher’s Pets. The two-minute and 36-second reel takes a closer look at some of the flick’s racier scenes. This means some shots of hot girls but not anything particularly interesting otherwise.

Within the six-minute and 59-second Bloopers, we get some of the usual stuff. The segment shows the expected goofs and giggles. We do find some alternate lines and improv from a few of the actors, so if you actually like the film, you’ll probably enjoy those moments.

Van’s Party Supplies goes for three minutes, 58 seconds and includes comments from Absera and assistant property master Shawn Gray. We get a closer look at the film’s bongs and dildos. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. “Supplies” is actually one of the DVD’s more interesting featurettes, but that’s more of an indication the other pieces bore than anything else.

Finally, Pranks 101 lasts three minutes, 46 seconds and features Talley, Nic Nac, Cavallari, Bennett, Absera and Fuller. They discuss pranks they’ve played – both real and fake. It’s moderately amusing.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for I Love You, Man, Road Trip: Beer Pong, Tropic Thunder and The Hills Season 4. These also appear in the disc’s Previews area along with clips for Without a Paddle 2: Nature’s Calling, Eagle Eye and National Lampoon’s Stoned Age. No ad for Freshman shows up here.

Is it possible that Van Wilder: Freshman Year improves on its two predecessors? Maybe – I never saw those flicks, so I can’t say. However, I fail to comprehend the prospect they could be worse than this puerile, stupid and thoroughly unfunny piece of dreck. The DVD boasts very good picture, acceptable audio and a forgettable collection of supplements. Avoid this thoroughly awful movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1481 Stars Number of Votes: 27
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