'National Lampoon's Van Wilder' [4K Ultra HD]
(Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid, Tim Matheson, Kal Penn, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / NR / (2002) 2018 / Lions Gate Home Entertainment)
Overview: You’ll never think of bulldogs, pastries, protein shakes, or tutors in the same way again! 'National Lampoon’s Van Wilder' stars Ryan Reynolds as a 7th-year student who has no plans to graduate. But when the most popular kid on campus meets a beautiful journalist, she quickly makes him realize that maybe he's afraid to graduate - and lose his "kingdom" for good!
4K Ultra HD Verdict: Lionsgate Films continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this August with the release of this quite stunning 'National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Unrated Version' in the new 4K home video format on August 14th, 2018.
For my money, this 'National Lampoon's Van Wilder: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.
So, what we have is 'National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Unrated Version' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265; Resolution: 4K (2160p); HDR: Dolby Vision + HDR10; and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.
As with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features a much brighter, deeper, more lifelike set of colors. Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.
For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; like the oh-so colorful "party on" scenes! (where it honestly seems like every single person is wearing a slightly different color top to everyone else on set!)
The picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial (although neither Reynolds or Reid were showing any wrinkles back then, of course, bless them!) and some of the yellow graded material (notably some scenes where there's flashbacks and such) have a kind of honeyed amber appearance now. Which is interesting and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.
As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos and English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit).
Overall, this is a very strong 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.
Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, after the better part of a decade in college, Van Wilder's father pulls the plug and leaves Van with little option but to drop out. However when he is offered money to organise a party for a terminally uncool fraternity, Van realises that he maybe has a chance.
An unkind expose on Wilder in the college paper by conveniently gorgeous Gwen, actually serves to increase his reputation and soon he has people queuing up to pay him to organise more parties. Meanwhile though, Gwen wants more stories on Van, whereas Van just wants more Gwen.
The film opens with a title sequence that is cheap looking and lacks style and moves straight into a scene where an old Oriental woman appears to be giving oral sex to "our hero". And so it continues in this vein with no obvious or crude joke left undelivered.
We have stiff Indians talking dirty, farting strippers (for no reason other than delivering a lowbrow "blow job" joke), sandwiches made with dog ejaculate and so on! Trust me when I say that we are never in danger of the film being better than this and indeed nobody involved seems concerned with ticking all the basic genre boxes and leaving it at that.
The material is uninspired and uninspiring; occasionally bits of it made me laugh, but most of it was either boring or just crude to the point of being puerile. I imagine that fans of college comedies may enjoy this but for the casual viewer and most people over the age of 21, there will be very little to justify watching this for.
The cast match the material in absolutely doing the basics. Reynolds mugs his way along, but is more annoying than anything else. Indeed, he learns the hard way that you can't force charm and screen presence, because he gives it all he can here ... but still fails!
Of course, compared to Reid watching him is like a masterclass in the art of acting! Reid does the same character that she always does. Look, I know she had had personal issues just before this film, but it is hard to excuse her very weak performance regardless, sorry.
Matheson, Gleason, Armstrong and Estrada (yes, you heard me) all appear in tiny adult roles that add nothing, but did make me wonder why they even bothered. Penn does what the material requires even though it is rather racially questionable in this new day and age we're living in!
The performances of the rest of the cast is only noticeable for the very male and teenage depiction of women. Which can be summed up by watching the scene in which Van calls Gwen's room, but gets her flatmate who, for some reason, was on the PC in a tight vest and pants!
The film doesn't explain why she was dressed this way or why this scene was necessary, but it's clear that the target audience is teenage boys and that the depiction of women is slanted accordingly. I mean, this was 2002, after all, so I'll cut it a small bit of slack here, sure).
Overall, 'National Lampoon's Van Wilder' is a mostly unfunny and joke-obvious genre movie that goes through the motions but does very little else. Calling it crude doesn't really do it justice and generally if there is a simple bodily function or gross out joke that can be delivered, it will be delivered; of that have no fear!
In closing, the movie tried to be a cross between a lighthearted comedy and a gross-out film in the tradition of 'Animal House' and 'American Pie.' Sadly, it could not achieve a satisfactory balance.
As for the wondrous amount of Special Features, well, the ones that stood out for me were led by the way-too-short "Outtakes" (which were run and ruled by Reynolds himself), and the fun-to-watch-again Burly Bear TV Specials: “Half Baked,” “Imposter,” “Movie Junky.”
The others, such as “Party Legends, Pledges, and ‘Bull’-ies” Featurette," “Gwen-ezuma’s Revenge” Featurette (where she adds a little something extra to her BF's morning shake), and Write That Down — Quotes from and Inspired by the Film are simply a chance to group together clips from the movie we've just all watched.
That said, and easily one of the most weirdest, strange Special Features I've EVER seen focuses on the scene in the movie where Penn is teaching Reynolds all about, well, dog testicles and such! So, the feature Testicles of the Animal Kingdom — Interactive Quizzicle is, well, just that ... and is exactly what you would expect it to be from the title, so beware!
See Ryan Reynolds with all the sarcasm of Deadpool (and no mask) when 'National Lampoon’s Van Wilder' arrives on 4K Ultra HD™ Digitally August 7 and 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray™ and Digital) August 14 from Lionsgate.
Experience four times the resolution of Full HD with 4K along with Dolby Vision™ HDR to bring to life the stunning cinematography of this hilarious film. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:
· “Party Legends, Pledges, and ‘Bull’-ies” Featurette
· Sweet Drunken Idiot “Kommentary”
· “Ultimate College Party Guide” Featurette
· “Gwen-ezuma’s Revenge” Featurette
· Testicles of the Animal Kingdom — Interactive Quizzicle (Blu-ray™ Only)
· Write That Down — Quotes from and Inspired by the Film (Blu-ray™ Only)
· Sugarcult “Bouncing Off the Walls” Music Video
· Deleted Scenes
· Burly Bear TV Specials, “Half Baked,” “Imposter,” “Movie Junky”
· Comedy Central’s “Reel Comedy: National Lampoon’s Van Wilder”
· Van Wilder Blu-Book Exam: Exclusive Blu-ray™ Interactive Game
· Theatrical Trailers
Official 'National Lampoon's Van Wilder: 4K Ultra HD' Trailer Link