a critiQal film review Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj (2006)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: To complete his graduate study after finishing up at Coolidge College, Taj (Penn) goes to England's prestigious Camford University. But, after he is rejected by Camford's elitist frat and sent to "The Barn", a den for the losers at the school, he resolves to give the school snobs a lesson they won't soon forget.

472 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 21s)

We chose Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj as the 2nd film in our 3-movie marathon. Heather was a big fan of the original Van Wilder film and couldn’t wait to see the 2nd. I also enjoyed the first film, but thought that Ryan Reynolds really made the movie what it was. Since he isn’t back for the sequel, would Kal Penn be able to fill his shoes, or was this a sequel that should have gone straight to video?

Kal Penn, who did a good job as a horny geek in the first film (but failed in his attempt to make it on his own in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) attempts to pick up the reins that Reynolds has left for him in The Rise of Taj. While he does a decent job, he doesn’t have the flair for it that Reynolds did, leaving a lot of his comedy to fall a little flat.

The new geeks have multiplied in The Rise of Taj, and the setting is in England, but the story is pretty much the same: Kal likes the girlfriend of the snobby frat president, and he has to do what he can to make a mockery of the frat prez and get the girl for himself. Same scenario, different country. This time, he utilizes his geek squad much more, as they challenge for the prestigious trophy awarded to the best frat in the school.

Unfortunately, gone in The Rise of Taj are most of the wild parties that made for some fun scenes in the original, and also sadly lacking is any originality whatsoever. The writers obviously ran out of good lines somewhere towards the beginning of the film, and had to pull the cheesy lines from other geek vs. frat films they’d seen in the past (Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, etc).

Eventually, The Rise of Taj even tires of those, and reduce the snobby frat prez to throwing racial slur after racial slur at Kal’s character. It gets a bit ridiculous, but in a painfully socially-conscious sort of way, rather than the ridiculousness that causes belly laughs by the dozens.

Despite earnest performances from Kal, love interest Lauren Cohan and the geek squad, there isn’t much to recommend about The Rise Of Taj. It’s warmed-over one-liners and racial slurs leave the dialogue a mess, while the rehashing of old themes don’t do much more than show the age of said themes.

A disappointing sequel, Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj probably should have gone straight to video. If you’re a big fan of the original, it’s not bad enough to change the channel if it’s on HBO or one of those other unedited movie channels. But, if you didn’t like Van Wilder, leave this one alone – you’ve seen it all before, better.

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