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Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj

Revenge of the Nerd

Where is Van Wilder? The hard-partying slacker, played by Ryan Reynolds in the first installment of National Lampoon’s latest and least inspired franchise, gets top billing here, but he’s nowhere to be found. Could it be that Van finally quit throwing epic keg parties? Graduated from college? Got a job?

Sobering prospects, to be sure, but not as sobering as Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj, a sex comedy that lacks two key ingredients -- sex and comedy. There is no shortage of boobs on display, but that’s to be expected from a movie that lazily tries to wring laughs out of beer-drinking contests and canine genitalia.

In the absence of Reynolds and Van Wilder accomplice Tara Reid, Kal Penn steps to the forefront as Taj, a recovering nerd-turned-self-assured stud. After surviving the first film with his liver intact, Taj is now a student-teacher in England, where he must lead a merry band of misfits (dubbed the “Cocks and Bulls”) against a boorish clan of rich kids. Sound familiar? It should.

Penn, whose comic instincts were utilized neatly in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, is capable of carrying a movie, just not this one. That’s not his fault -- The Rise of Taj would have been a losing proposition for any actor. It is a sophomoric assemblage of clichés and scenes borrowed from smarter, more energetic comedies. I’d list a few, but too many spring to mind.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars