Plot: What’s it about?
Taj Mahal Badalandabad (Kal Penn) has learned the art of cool from one of the world’s greatest teachers, Van Wilder and now, he plans to fulfill his destiny as a master of the pink taco. Taj seeks to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a notorious ladies man in college. His father was a member of the illustrious Fox & Hounds fraternity, where he raised hell and plowed chicks like few had done before him. So now Taj has the knowledge he needs to create his own legacy of seduction, so he travels to Camford University to become a Fox & Hounds pledge. But when he arrives, he is informed that it was a mistake and he was not accepted, a cruel joke the Fox & Hounds members play on unfortunate pledges. He is sent to be the head of household for a place known as The Barn, where the school’s outcasts are gathered. While those at The Barn have given up on any kind of social life, Taj rallies them and tells them to never give up hope. He decides to do his best to turn them from losers to campus stars, as he leads them to a run at the campus competition. But as he pushes himself and his new friends, he faces stiff competition and even falls in love, so can even he hold it together?
I never expected to see a sequel to Van Wilder, let alone one that was anchored on the weakest element from the original. I have no idea who is out there that thinks Kal Penn is humorous, but I wish they’d stop drinking so much. Penn was the weak link in the first Van Wilder movie, so now he is given the lead? As expected, Penn fails to draw laughs from start to finish and at times, it was painful to watch him flounder. His presence adds nothing to the material, he chokes on even the simplest dialogue and he just plain ruins this movie. That’s not to say it would have been a classic without him however, as The Rise of Taj is mediocre, even by recent college comedy standards. For a movie presented in an unrated version that was “too hot for theaters,” this flick has minimal nudity and gives no indications of why an unrated edition was needed. You’ll see a few breasts, but when a movie is pushed as over the top as this one, I think more than a few naked chests should be showcased. As far as the humor, Penn’s miserable performance is only part of the problem, as the writing is thin and borrows too much from Revenge of the Nerds. I was bored with The Rise of Taj and that is the worst reaction a movie can cause. Even if you’re a diehard comedy fan, Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj fails to deliver enough laughs, so just leave this one alone.
Video: How does it look?
Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is what you’d expect from a new release, a clean and crisp visual effort. This is not the most refined film in terms of visuals, with more of a television feel, but still has a solid overall presence. The print is clean and shows no real problems, so softness remains minimal and as a result, you can see all the needed detail. The colors are bright and bold, while contrast is consistent, not much else we could want from this presentation. Not remarkable, but solid enough.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track won’t disappoint, but this material isn’t that powerful, so don’t expect too much. The main surround presence comes from the musical soundtrack and a few audio intensive scenes, such as the party sequences. The atmosphere is active when it needs to be, but that it isn’t often and as such, the front channels handle most of the burden. This is how it should be however, as the film is dialogue driven and the vocals are well presented, with no real issues to report. This disc also includes a Spanish language track, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some deleted scenes, two music videos, an outtakes reel, and two featurettes, both brief and very promotional in nature.