WRITTEN BY Sean Anders & John Morris
DIRECTED BY Sean Anders
2008, 109 mins.
*** (out of ****)
Being a teenager, it's hard to find a good teen comedy. The last truly flick that reached greatness was American Pie 2 (2001), which mixed raunchy sex humor with equally great, loveable characters. [Undoubtedly some disagree; some have their Breakfast Club, I have my American Pie] Sure, Superbad (2007) was huge amounts of fun, but I was one of the few movie goers in the world who didn't fall in love with it (or, for that matter, most of anything director/writer/co-writer Judd Apatow has his hands on). I enjoyed Road Trip (2000) and Eurotrip (2004), and I have no idea why anyone liked Accepted (2006), with Jonah Hill being his obnoxious self and plentiful with lame jokes. Come to think of it, Not Another Teen Movie (2001) was golden - a total spoof on anything and everything teen comedy related. Hell, I think I own two copies of that flick on DVD, the original release and the Unrated edition. So, here we come to Sex Drive. I didn't bother with this summer's College, hearing nothing but negative, harsh reviews. At least this flick had better critical reception (though I wager that's due primarily to Seth Green's stuff, and there's a reason for that). But the good news is something I didn't expect: Sex Drive is a damn near great teen comedy that had me laughing out loud, Seth Rogen-style, and if I wasn't the only bloke in the theater during the screening, someone would probably complain.
It's not strickingly original, but it's the best time I've had at a theater since Steve Martin's Pink Panther (2006) [again, me probably being one of the few people on the planet who enjoyed it].
PLOTEighteen year old Ian Lafferty (Josh Zuckerman) has the Nice Guy Syndrome: he allows embarrassing things to happen to him and he doesn’t go after what he wants – specifically his best friend, Felicia (Amanda Crew), who he secretly loves. His two brothers have no problem in the relationship department, nor does his friend Lance (Clark Duke), who slides through everything with a cool breeze. Ian also just can’t get laid. Taking matters into his own hands, Ian IMs a girl on the internet and in order to meet and ‘greet’, he has to get to Knoxville before Ms. Tasty gives up and calls it an night. Lance and Felicia join Ian on this road trip packed with crazy adventures and complications. Together, the three of them change in drastic, life-altering ways they didn’t expect.
When I entered the theater I've been going to for five years, they asked me for my ID Considering that I've never had to show my ID for anything - say, a flick that has guts splattering straight at the camera and heads being ripped off - I thought this was a subtle attempt for them to say 'Dude, this movie blows, don't waste your money!' Or perhaps it was just them checking my ID for a movie that just swears a whole lot and very much lacking in the flesh department - which makes no sense, but whatever. Point is: thank God I hate my ID on me at the time, 'cuz this movie rocked!
Almost every minute there's a joke; sometimes it falls flat, but most of the time, it elicited a laugh-out-loud moment. Sure, there's plenty of gags or plot points that have been 'lifted' from several other teen comedies, so the originality factor isn't very high, but somehow, everything felt fresh - like hearing it for the first time, sitting in that theater, and I loved 'em.
Zuckerman is perfect as the Jason Biggs-like Good Guy who is lacking any experience in the sex department. Actually, he's more like DJ Qualls (Road Trip), but less freakishly skinny. The dude is the perfect dork. Zuckerman is completely enjoyable in every scene he's in, and you can't help but feel bad for the guy, being all humble and unable to defend himself; and when he makes the decision to meet up with Ms. Tasty, I rooted for the guy, because he's finally taking matters into his own hands and 'being a man!' Kudos, dude.
I've fallen in love with Amanda Crew after watching this. I don't recall her in She's the Man, but next time I check it out, I'll definitely be looking for her. Crew and Emma Snow (Superbad) both love me...they're just...slow on the uptake. Their love for me aside, Crew is awesome, and actually pretty good as far as acting is concerned. A potential rising talent. Ian's other friend, the cool-headed and easy-going Lance, is played by Clark Duke, who is far less annoying then Jonah Hill could ever be. Imparting wisdom and urging Ian to grow some balls, Lance is the party animal who just looks at women and their clothes fall off - Ian's complete opposite. When Snow fell for Hill in Superbad, it was completely unbelievable, but Duke is a dude I can believe would get all these women without using Jedi mind tricks. Honestly, he was just a blast. I was thrilled to find that Ian actually has a story attached to his character, he's not just the dude who shows up and marks dumb comments; that just helps improve this already very well written flick.
The biggest surprise concerning the cast is James Marsden as Ian's homophobic brother, Rex. From the very moment he was onscreen, I thought to myself, 'That looks like James Marsden...can't be....nah...what would he be doing in a movie like this after Hairspray?' So, throughout the entire run, I was in denial that it was James Marsden, and then, sure enough, the credits read - James Marsden. Holy buckets! I've seen Marsden in the X-Men trilogy and most recently, 27 Dresses (2008), but this is his role of the century. It's like Eugene Levy as Jim's Dad in the Pie series - every moment he's onscreen, you love him because he's so damn fun. Forget being known as the romantic lead, or the culturally-aware announcer, this is truly his best work ever (alright, probably not so much true, but point is, he was phenomenal).
A little less surprising is Seth Green (TV's Robot Chicken), who, without doubt, is a highlight of the flick. Playing the Amish dude Ezekiel, Green delivers his lines in such a serious, deadpan, Steve Carrell-type of way that literally had me howling in my seat. Sometimes, his dialogue can be kind of thin (such as the closing credits encoutner with the band All-American Rejects), but more often then not, Green delivers the laughs.
And finally, the last thing worth mentioning: the ending. It is so completely insane and yet brilliant, it alone deserves four stars. Ian's donut costume finally comes into play as everyone who has been affected by this road trip have a western-like stand off until the police come and...well, do nothing, really...though they do bring a gun into the fray.
Unfortunately, the flick's already left my local theater, so probability of seeing this a few more times is nonexistent. But I have every intention of picking this up on DVD. For some, this is going to be a test of endurance to see how long you can last during a movie that's redundant and stupid; for others, it was a OK experience which Green made it worthwhile; and for the people like me, every damn minute was filled with awesomeness. But give it a shot, folks. At the very least, you'll laugh a bit, and it's better then Beverly Hills Chihuahua - though I'm not sure how much of a selling point that is...