Summit Entertainment // 2008 // 109 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mac McEntire // February 24th, 2009
Ruder. Cruder. Nuder.
Ahhh, the Internet. What would our lives be without it? It provides information we need within seconds, it connects us with likeminded others from all over the world, and it serves up seriously awesome DVD reviews.
One of the greatest powers of the Internet is the anonymity. Anyone can go onto any chat room, forum, or networking site and claim to be anyone you like. This sense of "facelessness" has been freeing for a lot of people, allowing them to speak their minds without fear of embarrassment or reprisal. Unfortunately, this also means the cute 20-year-old redheaded girl you were chatting with last night might be some greasy 49-year-old man with various tooth and gum problems.
That brings us to Sex Drive, which starts with Internet anonymity and then takes its teen heroes on a road trip filled with crazy adventures, mostly having to with bodily fluids and/or the Amish.
Ian (Josh Zuckerman, Lions for Lambs) is an 18-year-old frustrated virgin. His longtime crush Felicia (Amanda Crew, The Haunting in Connecticut) only has eyes for his best pal Lance (Clark Duke, Clark and Michael).
That's when Ian meets "Miss Tasty" on the Internet. They hit it off, and she tells him that he if drives all the way across the country to meet her in person, then she'll go all the way with him.
Stealing a classic muscle car owned by Ian's brother Rex (James Marsden, X-Men), Ian, Felicia, and Lance hit the road, on their way toward destiny...and a lot of sleaze.
At the heart of Sex Drive is the eternal "how to get girls to like you" conundrum, a mystery that may never truly be solved. Ian struggles with this throughout the film, with his two friends adding to the confusion with two different viewpoints. Felicia insists that girls want the nice guy, even though that approach hasn't worked for him in the past. Lance, meanwhile, argues that a guy has to act distant and uninterested in women, alleging that women are attracted to that which is unattainable. Unfortunately, this approach also fails to work for Ian. It's up to him to sort this all out as his rendezvous with Miss Tasty gets closer and closer...despite the occasional unintended detour.
Throughout this road trip -- with twists and turns involving hillbilly rest stops, Amish parties, psycho hitchhikers, abstinence pledge ceremonies, theme hotel rooms, and much more -- the three characters each experience their share of mistakes and humiliations, but they each learn something about themselves as well. By the time it's all over, some of the characters end up in surprising new places in their lives, but ones that seem to fit them.
This is all mostly subtext, though. What we're seeing on screen follows all the standards of the road trip/teen sex comedy flick. Encounters with hot babes that look like they're about to get erotic take decidedly non-erotic turns. Likewise, situations that wouldn't normally be considered sexual take a disturbingly sexy turn -- all for laughs, of course. Really, this is nothing you haven't already seen in dozens of other movies like this, but the cast and filmmakers bring so much energy and likability to the whole thing, that Sex Drive is a fun time, instead of a "been there, done that" experience.
Josh Zuckerman does a fine job as the horny lead character. He's the down-to-Earth one, filling in for the audience, reacting normally to all the craziness happening around him. Clark Duke of the Internet sensation Clark and Michael essentially plays himself as the laid back, takes-nothing-seriously best friend. He gets some of the biggest laughs. Amanda Crew is also good, combining girl-next-door sweetness and tough-girl trash talking in equal doses. James Marsden brings a ton of slapstick energy to his obnoxious older brother character, and Seth Green (Robot Chicken) shines in his extended cameo as the first Amish man in history to understand the concept of sarcasm.
Although created with a meager budget, Sex Drive is nicely filmed. The doughnut costume, which you probably remember from the ads, is a humorous creation. There are plenty of smaller details seen along the way that are very amusing. I especially liked the set design of the theme hotel rooms the characters stay in near the end of the film, which are hilarious in their tackiness. More on the technical side, the chat room scenes between Ian and Miss Tasty are cleverly staged, with the screen windows appearing in the air next to Ian, almost like captions in a comic book. It's a nice way to visualize what would otherwise just be someone sitting there with his laptop. These little details spring to life nicely on the DVD, with bright, vivid colors and no defects to be seen. The sound is also good, making the most of the many rock tunes on the soundtrack.
About this so-called "Unrated" DVD -- there are a few things you should know. This is not one of those cases where it's almost the same as the theatrical version, except for a few edits that were mandatory for a theatrical release. No, this DVD is set up to make fun of those releases. The R-rated version is exactly the movie the creators wanted to make. The unrated version is a goof, made up of alternate takes with the actors ad-libbing, as well as nude models greenscreened into the picture at random spots and Tyler Durden-style genitalia edits. Definitely watch the R-rated version first.
The filmmakers' commentary is the best of the extras, and the only one that provides any actual making-of information. Director Sean Anders (Never Been Thawed) says one of his philosophies is to make sure the production is a good time for everyone involved, so it feels like hanging out with friends instead of hard work. I believe that shows in the final product. Moving on to disc two, the featurettes are really mockumentaries (mockurettes?) made during filming, with cast goofing off in front of the cameras.
Although it's not a filth-tastic as Superbad or even Porky's, know that this movie totally earns its R rating, and is not one for the wee kiddies. Yes, I know that's stating the obvious considering the movie's called Sex Drive, but, you know.
It's not groundbreaking cinema, but Sex Drive is just enough fun that you won't regret it the next morning.
Not guilty. Drive on, you sexy thing.
Review content copyright © 2009 Mac McEntire; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Summit Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Theatrical Version
* Official Site
* Theatrical Trailer
* Clark and Michael