'Van Wilder' director Walt Becker discusses modern filmmaking

    Walt Becker wasn’t kidding himself when he made “”National Lampoon’s Van Wilder.”” He wasn’t expecting to have a slew of Oscar nominations or critics bestowing numerous stars upon his film. He just wanted something that would entertain people.

    “”I just want the audience to know that they spent an hour-and-a-half having fun and laughing,”” Becker said. “”At the same time, I want them to also know that they’ve seen a movie that isn’t devoid of heart.””

    “”Van Wilder”” was the former UCLA graduate’s second film, following “”Buying the Cow.”” The current film, a teen comedy with memorable site gags, is one that Becker liked from the beginning.

    “”The initial thing that drew me to the movie was that I loved the idea of a character that, first of all, didn’t want to graduate, because I took five years myself,”” Becker said. “”I related to it on that level. I also loved the idea of a guy that was kind of selfless and did a lot of things for everybody else, and then got into trouble and had the whole community rally around him.””

    Becker handpicked Ryan Reynolds, who he worked with on “”Buying the Cow,”” to play the lead character.

    “”I thought that if you give Ryan the title role in a movie and make it about him, then he would carry it through,”” Becker said. “”I can’t think of someone off of the top of my head that has his balance of looks, charm and comic ability. I think that he’s going to be a big star.””

    Now that he’s worked with Reynolds, Becker has dreams of working with some of Hollywood’s more established actors.

    “”I would love to work with Robert DeNiro in a comedy, because I think that he is just great,”” Becker said. “”He is one of my favorite actors in anything, but especially now that he’s in a comedy.””

    Though the actors that he would like to work with are primarily comedy stars, Becker does not want to limit himself to one genre.

    He said he would like to follow in the footsteps of one of his directorial idols, Steven Spielberg.

    “”He had such a great run of movies that were in a lot of different genres, which I loved,”” Becker said. “”That is something that I wanted to emulate.””

    Becker would like to branch out, but is worried about being stereotyped.

    “”It’s so hard because now that I’ve done back-to-back comedies, they say, ‘Oh, now you’re a comedy director,'”” he said. “”The next movie that I want to do is either an action-comedy or maybe even a drama.””

    Deviation from comedy is not something new to Becker, who filmed a variety of different movies while at film school at the University of Southern California.

    When it is all said and done, Becker said that the best part of being a director is seeing audience reaction to the final product.

    “”The most fun is going to a theater and watching the audience react,”” Becker said. “”The biggest thrill is watching the audience yell and scream back at the screen. That is when you know that it is having an effect.””

    For a review of “”Van Wilder,”” go to the Guardian Web site at https://www.ucsdguardian.org.

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