Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj Review - "Why?"
by Alex Billington
December 3, 2006
I went to the screening of National Lampoon's Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj to see if it lived up to the hype of being the worst comedy of the year. MGM surprised many by releasing this film in the first place, but they must have seen something in it that I didn't. As I expected, it was a cheesy, predictable, already-seen-before and quite boring Indian-spiced comedy that doesn't appeal to any audience. I only have one question for MGM: why isn't this a straight-to-DVD release?
Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj follows Taj Mahal Badalandabad (Kal Penn) as he continues his higher education and work as teaching assistant at the fictional Camford University somewhere in England. Taj tries to join the Fox and Hounds society to follow in his father's "legendary" footsteps. Upon arriving he is told by the pompous head of the house Pipp Everett (Daniel Percival), the Earl of Grey, that there was a mistake: he was instead accepted to the Cocks and Bulls society that is housed in "The Barn." Taj meets four other socially-challenged students and decides to lead them as his mentor Van Wilder (the first film's Ryan Reynolds, who does not appear in the sequel) would have.
Although you could draw parallels between The Rise of Taj and every us-versus-them college comedy ever, The Rise of Taj is a nearly complete copy of the otherwise superior comedy Old School from 2003. In Old School, Luke Wilson and friends form a new fraternity, and before long are fighting in a school competition to keep it alive and win the trophy. In The Rise of Taj, Taj takes a rundown house and gives it a new life, competing in the school competition to win a trophy and prove that it, and its members, are worthy. There is even a paintball scene strongly reminiscent of the mediocre School for Scoundrels from earlier this year.
Nearly every scene has a gratuitous cleavage shot or is graced by a piece of female eye candy, a desperate hope to draw an audience. If you can struggle through the lame comedy and cookie-cutter characters, you'll get a few chuckles at Penn's expense and many opportunities to admire Holly Davidson's breasts. This film is meant only to pander to the lowest common denominator of young movie-goers who enjoyed the sex comedy in the first Van Wilder. With much less tact and considerably less nudity and sexuality than one would expect, even those seeking a mindless experience will walk out disappointed.
Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj doesn't even compare three cup sizes to the half-assed original from 2002. It moves through its bland comedy much too quickly, yet I'm confused as to how this actually filled up 95 minutes, as it felt like an hour long comedy special found on television. I'll ask it again: why isn't this straight to DVD? There are plenty of other disgraceful films that get a quiet straight-to-DVD release, and this is one that should have been on the very top of that list.