Van Wilder 2: The Rise Of Taj

Van Wilder 2: The Rise Of Taj


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

For those beyond the age of binge drinking and knicker hunts in girls’ dorms, who found the original Van Wilder (2002) insufferably pleased with himself, don’t bother with the sequel. If cool is defined in terms of stud workouts and the aroma of charm oil, the man has form, but in every other respect he’s a tosser.

Taj (Kal Penn) in VW2 is not that. In fact, he is a decent fellow, who is thrown into an alien environment, where he looks for the positive in the negative and has the ability to inspire the uninspired. In that sense, he should disown the VW moniker, stick with The Rise Of Taj and let the good times roll.

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What he is up against is class snobbery, racial prejudice and scriptwriter David Drew Gallagher. Taj is Indian-American, who comes to Camford – Oxbridge the wrong way round – on a post grad teaching course, where he is snubbed by the English aristos in the Fox & Hounds drinking club and billeted in The Barn, a broken down hall of res outside the town in a field beside a wood, where four of the least likely students reside in an atmosphere of aggression, nymphomania, lethargy and failure.

Taj motivates these losers to take on the toffs in a series of tests, games, disciplines and a dog show. At first, they are useless, but… you know the rest. The lack of imagination in this grudge match between no hopers and privileged a-holes for a hunk of silverware, called The Hastings Cup, wastes the potential to take a tried and untrue situation and milk it for laughs.

Despite Taj’s efforts, with gallant support from IT nerd Gethin (Anthony Cozens), sexy Sadie (Holly Davidson) and Oirish hard man Seamus (Glen Barry), the plot nosedives into mulch. As for Charlotte (Lauren Cohan), the girlfriend of Pip (Daniel Percival), the Earl of Somewhere, who leads the Fox & Hounds and makes Genghis Khan look like a liberal, she is in that impossible position of being a posh tottie who behaves like a tart.

The film isn’t funny enough. Although there are a number of American Pieisms – when in doubt talk about blow jobs and have the hero forcibly initiated into the Five Mile High club – sex is pretty tame. The concept is old fashioned and the Fox & Hound crowd are leftovers from another era. Everything depends on Penn. Does he hold it together? Has he the personality and seductive authority of Hugh Grant? He’s younger, but that’s all.

His dog Balzac has gonads the size of goose eggs. That’s a joke, by the way. You need to be forewarned.

Reviewed on: 01 Oct 2007
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Van Wilder's Indian-American friend goes to Camford - Oxbridge the wrong way round - and takes on the English toffs.
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Director: Mort Nathan

Writer: David Drew Gallagher

Starring: Kal Penn, Lauren Cohan, Daniel Percival, Glen Barry, Anthony Cozens, Holly Davidson, Steve Rathman, Tom Davey, William de Coverly

Year: 2006

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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