Written by David Drew Gallagher
Directed by Mort Nathan
Running Time: 1:37
for pervasive crude sexual content,
some nudity and language.
Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj was a fairly typical sexcapade where the underdogs beat the pompous rich guys.
Fresh from his tutoring under the hands of the immortal Van Wilder, Taj Mahal Badalandabad sets off to London to fulfill his father's legacy of being a ladies man. He immediately crosses paths with a pompous rich white guy named Pipp and soon they are squaring off against one another for supremacy on campus and for a girl. Taj and his group of misfits do everything they can to get under Pipp's skin and win the Hastings Cup for best house. Guess who ultimately wins?
The Rise of Taj plays as cross between Revenge of the Nerds and Porky's. You've got a lot of people wanting to have sex, and a group of smart and not popular people up against a group of kids who think they own the school. Suffice to say, you've seen this movie before. In recent years the sex comedy has started to make a comeback so there's nothing really new in The Rise of Taj except that there's an Indian guy in the lead role. That in itself is a pretty big accomplishment, because when was the last time a frat guy movie like this starred a non-white person?
There were some funny moments and Kal Penn (as Taj Mahal, the most unfortunately named person in recent movie history) can hold his own in the comedic moments. But the problem is, this is billed as a Van Wilder movie, so comparisons to the original are expected. Ryan Reynolds, who played Van in the first film, has a presence about him. He's extremely outgoing and you can see him as a too-old-for-college ladies man. Penn on the other hand doesn't have the same stature as Reynolds so trying to portray him as a lady killer doesn't come across as well. If this were the kind of movie where he feels he is also a misfit who leads other misfits, then it would have worked. But to have him be the 'cool' kid who takes some losers under his belt, didn't feel right. His character in the original film would have done well in this film because he too was a loveable loser. And while Penn can certainly play a likeable guy, having him be a hound dog didn't come across well.
That being said, Penn is a talented actor who can make anything funny. To me some of the funniest moments are when he's just engaged in quick conversations (like the one about the barn early on in the film.) He's at his best when he can play off of someone else and there are a few moments that feel like they were done improv style instead of scripted. Unfortunately, the writer felt the need to throw in a lot of historical and serious moments which took away from the raunchiness of the film. I find nothing wrong with a good sex comedy, it's when the writers decide that there's too much raunch and they need to slow things down and make a 'serious' movie. But how can you go from watching a girl flash some guys (while playing badminton of all things), to a trip through historical London, to a kid funneling beer? Why bother going down the serious route? People who pay to go see The Rise of Taj know what they're going to get, so why not just give it to them? Go all out and have it be a total sex comedy. Don't try and give it some redeeming qualities. It only serves to slow down the pace of the movie and have it lose any momentum it may have been picking up.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj wasn't the greatest movie ever, but it had some funny moments. If you could take out all the serious scenes and just have an hour long comedy, it would be more enjoyable.
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