Van Wilder: Freshman Year

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Van Wilder: Freshman Year Movie Poster Image
Campus sex-booze-drugs prequel bashes religion, sobriety.
  • R
  • 2009
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Glorifies anti-authoritarian behavior, with smooth hero Van Wilder spreading a mindset of hypersexual partying and gratification -- which is depicted as healthy and positive. Chastity and celibacy are identified with the villains -- as is Bible-reading and religious observance. Miltary cadets and officers are grim sadists prone to violence, elitism, and impotence. The "education" experience consists of socializing, sex, and revenge; scholarship/studying only comes up in the context of sex-ed class.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Van Wilder is upheld as a man's man with an "I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do" attitude. He courts one girl throughout, but his agenda comes across as reforming her of conservative discipline (and humiliating her cadet boyfriend). Stereotyping is rampant. There's a Jamaican wannabe (a white student who listens to reggae and smokes pot) and a pidgin-speaking, kung-fu-ing Chinese student (his name incorporates the F-word), whose sex interludes with a fellow Asian encompass erotic use of egg rolls and chopsticks. ROTC types are depicted as torture-happy, racist bullies and sexually repressed. A few senior figures (the fathers of the heroine and hero) are shown in a positive manner.


Football tackles, a few thrown punches, an extra knocked senseless by a golf ball. Hand to hand combat between male and female cadets. A gun brandished threateningly.


Lots of sex (and sex metaphors, verbal and visual), masturbation suggestions. Topless girls and cheerleaders clad in underwear or lingerie. A veritable gallery of penis-shaped sex toys displayed and used by co-eds. Oral sex granted by both enticing females and a dog -- a male bulldog with large genitalia. A variety of bizarre sexual positions are demonstrated (by mostly clothed subjects) in a sex-ed class. Talk of pornography.


The f-word, the s-word, and "asshole" uttered numerous times. An Asian student's name is Yu Dom Fok.


References to other movies (like Scarface), as well as Wheel of Fortune; a thinly disguised Playboy magazine, and of course a natural tie-in to early Van Wilder antics.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A white student pretending to be Jamaican blissfully smokes or otherwise ingests marijuana. Party-hearty drinking, including the main character  "waterboarded" with beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a review of the unrated DVD and not the R-rated version from theaters. This youth-baiting sex comedy is centered on "fornication," partying, drugs, and humiliation-revenge as key parts of the college experience. Much female cleavage and toplessness, and even "abstaining" students (the girls, anyway) are practically nymphomaniacs when tempted. Religious types and military (with a few exceptions) are depicted as immoral right-wing hostiles, compared to the freewheeling title dude, whose anything-goes lifestyle is made to look heroic. Profanity is not nonstop but plentiful enough. Seeing other Van Wilder movies isn't necessary for following the, er, intricacies of the narrative.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byoutlaw 360 May 3, 2020

the best

ya'll should try this out its the best
Parent of a 17-year-old Written bygoelitus January 5, 2011

helpful info I really needed

I’m so happy I stumble upon this blog! A lot of helpful info I really needed to know these stuff, I had a hard time with those foreign characters. Thank you so... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byrico_355 July 18, 2009
i liked but what do i know im a teen

What's the story?

VAN WILDER: FRESHMAN YEAR is a prequel, obviously to National Lampoon's Van Wilder. Even as he's graduating from high school, preppie top-dog Van Wilder (Jonathan Bennett) is such a sexual champion that while delivering the commencement address he enjoys oral sex under his robes from a girl classmate. The cocky teen, like all the men in his illustrious family, enters Coolidge College, where the wealthy, fun-loving Wilders have played key roles for generations. But the onetime "party school" has unexpectedly gone ultra-conservative, restricting alcohol and drugs and preaching that sex is sinful and forbidden. Stuck in a strict ROTC unit under the command of his father's old enemy, a nasty military colonel, Van Wilder still finds ways to rebel and party.

Is it any good?

The Christian-bashing is labored, and even the gross-out and body-function stuff isn't terribly creative by 21st-century standards. Timeliest bit: a takeoff on controversial US military “waterboarding” torture tactics with captives. Only here it's beer-boarding, har-har.

You don't really have to have seen the previous Van Wilder and VW: Rise of Taj  movies to follow this one, just understand it's a lower-class (in every way) edition of the establishment-undermining bad manners and collegiate milieu of National Lampoon's Animal House. Van Wilder started out as a National Lampoon property, sort of a next-generation-Animal House, but that once-great humor magazine seems to have seen fit to take its name off the property -- a warning sign indeed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the concept of the "Big Man on Campus" -- not terminology employed here, but the underlying motif of the whole Van Wilder movie series. An American icon going back for generations, the BMOC is the ultra-cool, smooth school-society leader and "fixer" who seems to get away with everything. Compare Van Wilder particularly with the more family-friendly Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Is Van the kind of guy that Ferris will grow up to become?

  • Ask kids if they enjoy this kind of extreme-sex comedy and why. Do they believe that college is really like this?

Movie details

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