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April 08, 2002 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-08

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8A --The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 8, 2002

ARTS

40

Van Wilder is
in running for
worst ever
By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Editor
Warning: The film reviewed here should not be seen
by anyone.
Words cannot describe the pain, the sheer agony and the
pure horror of viewing "National Lampoon's Van Wilder."
Root canal and child birth seem like a vacation compared
to sitting in a darkened theater and being subjected to the
90 minutes of pure filth. "Van Wilder" is awful, derivative
and one of the worst films to come out of Hollywood in
the past 10 years.
The story is quite simple. Van Wilder is a seventh year
undergraduate student and the king of his college campus.
He refuses to finish college, opting to live the life of a
collegiate bachelor surrounded by alcohol, women and
worshiping friends. Van is constantly at war with faculty
members, none more so than his political science profes-
sor (Paul Gleason, "Die Hard"). When his father (Tim
Matheson, "Animal House") cuts off the funds to force his
son to graduate, Van must raise money to continue with
his vivacious activities. Plot originality at its finest.
Ryan Reynolds (ABC's "Two Guys, a Girl
and a Pizza Place") plays the titular charac-
ter with glowing confidence and a grating
smile, trying just a little too hard to be that (No S
next hot young actor. His mannerisms are VAN
cocky and irritating, borrowing from an
assortment of comedy legends while remain- At Showc
ing entirely hackneyed. May his film career t Qualit
end swiftly. Artis
Tara Reid ("Josie and the Pussycats")
delivers a knockout performance as Gwen, a
hard-nosed journalist writing a feature story on the leg-
endary status Van Wilder has on campus. Sarcasm aside,'
while her appearance resembles a high-class prostitute,
her talents as an actress are comparable to a 400-pound
swimmer in a tight red Speedo.
The supporting cast is equally trivial, due largely in part
to the cliched script penned by Brent Goldberg ("Saving
Ryan's Privates") and David Wagner ("Ozone"). Van's
best friend Hutch is played by "The Real World" all-star

Derivative 'Big

Trouble'

not

up to par with original novel

Andy Taylor-Fabe
Daily Film Editor
"Big Trouble," based on humor
columnist Dave Barry's first novel,
is an Elmore Leonard-esque tale of
an ad agent, Russian weapons deal-
ers, hit-men, corrupt contractors,
high school kids with squirt guns
and a search for a mysterious suit-

case, which everyone,
including the FBI, is
desperate to find.
With an ensemble
cast of bizarre charac-
ters and fast-paced,
quirky dialogue,
Director Barry Son-
nenfeld turns Barry's
sarcastic and hilarious
writing into a rehash
of "Get Shorty," and

nothing in common being thrown
together. Trying to give a plot syn-
opsis is an exercise in futility, but
the basic plot concerns Elliot
Arnold (Tim Allen), an unhappy
advertising agent who as to deal
with fat, sweaty clients from Hell
on a daily basis. When his son Matt
(Ben Foster) tries toshoot a class-
mate Jenny Herk (Zooey
Deschanel, "Almost
Famous") with a squirt
gun for an assassin-
type game at school,
he must go to the
OUBLE home of Jenny's step-
case and father Arthur's (Stan-
y 16 ley Tucci "Sidewalks
of New York"), where
e Pictues Matt has been attacked
by Jenny's mother
Anna (Rene Russo "The Thomas
Crown Affair"), who thought that
Matt was actually trying to kill
Jenny.
However, they are surprised to
find that in the commotion, a bullet
somehow found its way in the
house and into Arthur's TV. It turns

BIG TR
At Showc
Qualit
Touchston
although

Courtesy of Artisan

The triple threat: Dumb and racist.

Teck Holmes, a man who could use a trip to Marlon Bran-
do's acting seminars. Sex comedy fans will revel in Curtis
Armstrong's (Booger in "Revenge of the Nerds") small
role as the campus cop.
Gross-out comedies have spread like wildfire since
Cameron Diaz infamously used Ben Stiller's
homemade "hair gel" in 1997's box office
juggernaut "There's Something About
tars) Mary." Since the Farrelly Brothers' comedy
rILDER racked up $176 million in the U.S. alone,
Hollywood has tried to cash in by coming up
ase and with the most vile and disgusting visual gags
y 16 allowed under an R rating.
an The National Lampoon moniker has long
lost its luster, as films like 1995's "Senior
Trip" and 1997's "Vegas Vacation" have fiz-
zled into bargain bins at mom and pop video stores. The
former comedy giant whose "Animal House" and "Vaca-
tion" catapulted the company into mainstream success is a
mere shadow of its former self.
"Van Wilder" is a comedy without the laughter, a film
without a purpose and complete waste of time. If the film
industry had any sense of dignity it would banish all those
involved in the creation of the film from Hollywood.
Avoid this film at all costs. You have been warned.

much of the humor is preserved
from the book, it doesn't transfer
to film as well as most stories of
this type.
The plot is like that of a Carl
Hiassen novel cranked up a few
notches, with characters who have

out that Arthur's employers have
hired two hit-men (Dennis Farina
and Jack Kehler) to kill him for
embezzlement. Two dirtball drifters
(Tom Sizemore and Johnny
Knoxville), a good-natured home-
less man with a penchant for Fritos
named Puggy (Jason Lee) and two
less-than-traditional cops (Janeane
Garofalo and Patrick Warburton)
are also involved in tangential plot
lines intertwined with the "main"
story.
The major problem with "Big
Trouble" is that it lacks what
makes the book so enjoyable -
Barry's unique, deadpan descrip-
tions, which apply logic to com-
pletely illogical situations.
Although screenwriters Robert
Ramsey and Matthew Stone (no,
not the South Park co-creator) tried
to preserve the narration with
voiceovers by Tim Allen, the action
in the film isn't as funny as the
presentation in the book.
The characters are mostly enter-
taining, especially Dennis Farina,
as the cranky, sarcastic, smile-
before-he-punches-you-in-the-face
tough guy (basically a version of
his roles from "Get Shorty," "Mid-
night Run," "Snatch" and ... well,
just about any movie he has been
in.) Stanley Tucci is excellent as
usual in an over-the-top way, and
Zooey Deschanel plays the surly
teenager perfectly.
Sonnenfeld tries to make this a
screwball comedy with sponta-
neous action and strange plot-
twists, but it never really takes off.
While you are still waiting for the
film to really get going, it's already
ending. It seems that when the
writers ran out of material, they
just repeated the same jokes in dif-
ferent settings. Barry did this to
some degree in the book, but he
was able to make it work because
of his keen sense of timing.
"Big Trouble" is part of the Sept.
11 Hollywood fallout, which
forced studios to shelve movies
with events even remotely related
to terrorism.
Since the film deals with the
incompetence of airport security, a
bomb on an airplane and many
other touchy subjects, Buena Vista
Pictures had to re-shoot certain
sequences, but the film has not been
drastically altered. However, the
film's paltry estimated box office
gross this weekend ($3.7 million)
shows that there is still some dis-
c oifor'with certain subjects.

ATTENTION SENIORS
Your Michigan career ends with graduation, but your memory can live on forever.
Before you graduate, etch your name into Michigan history with a commemorative brick at Michigan Stadium.

Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures
A simpler time, when nuclear-bomb-in-airport jokes and Tim Allen were funny.

GA

9 TA, p
glaw
W-4

Bricks start at $100 and will be
installed in the summer of 2002.
Orders will be accepted
through May 1.
Download an order form at
MGoBlue.com.

.

.

Pamn Placr~e and irs icr. nrui EBtments IIU ~

.

AL "A 1\ i 1\.lV V 1.111" 11111 V1 t/Vl L JLNwii 111LVAA I"

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