Sex Drive (2008)

13 Mar

sexdrive

Smith’s Verdict: **1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Just about every year, we get a new teenage sex comedy to relieve us from gravity and also harmlessness. 2008’s is “Sex Drive,” a movie about as raunchy and vulgar as the “American Pie” movies. Looking at the trailer for this movie, I thought I was in for yet another formulaic teen movie. But somehow, “Sex Drive” is fresher than it seems, mainly because the lead characters in the film are so appealing and likable. That’s a nice surprise for a movie like this.

The movie centers around an awkward eighteen-year-old named Ian (Josh Zuckerman) who strikes up a Chat relationship with a hot girl he met…online. She thinks he’s a jock, but the truth is, he’s kind of a dork. He doesn’t get respect at work (he’s forced to go around the mall and sell coupons for a doughnut shop…while dressed as a giant doughnut with eyes and a moving mouth that Ian operates himself) or at home. He always gets himself in embarrassing situations that bring his stepmom to think that he’s weird and unpleasant.

Ian’s best friends are Lance (Clark Duke) and Felicia (Amanda Crew). Lance is pudgy, wears glasses, and has zits…but he scores with a dozen girls because he’s so confident. He’s one of the popular guys in school who tries to give Ian some enough confidence to be with a girl. Felicia is a rebel girl who acts tough enough not to wear a dress for her cousin’s wedding, is best friends with Ian, and secretly has a crush on Lance.

Ian’s online “girlfriend” asks Ian to come down to Knoxville, Tennessee, where she promises him the best time of his life. Lance talks him into stealing his older brother’s hot-looking GTO (nicknamed “The Judge”) and travel all the way from California to Tennessee and get lucky with this girl. In tow is Felicia, who doesn’t know why they’re going to Tennessee but loves the ride.

The movie borrows a few traits from “The Sure Thing”—a teenager travels far just to save sex with someone he barely knows and winds up through a series of misadventures with his passengers. “Sex Drive” isn’t up there with “The Sure Thing.” It’s also not entirely good either. The script has some jokes that are hit-and-miss, and are neither funny nor convincing. “Sex Drive” has issues with supporting characters—there’s an older brother (played by James Marsden) who is constantly on testosterone. Like many annoying older brothers in movies, he’s obnoxious and picks on his younger brother, calling him gay because he’s still a virgin. The punchline for this character may be funny, but the character just isn’t. He’s just irritating. Then, there are the hillbillies that they run into. Then, there’s the hitchhiker they pick up. Then, there are the Amish folk that the characters meet—that whole sequence is somewhat distasteful. And there are many more uneven characters in this movie, to distracting and disturbing effect. It seems like the characters these three teenagers meet are from another planet. That makes “Sex Drive” not so pleasant an experience.

One exception to the uneven supporting characters rule is the Amish character played by Seth Green. Sporting a funny-looking beard, Green plays an Amish fellow who happens to know a thing or two (or a hundred) about fixing motor vehicles. He comes in handy when the heroes’ car breaks down. I like the scene where he and Lance have a talk about his trip to Las Vegas while riding in a horse-drawn carriage.

What’s refreshing about “Sex Drive” are the three teenagers. Ian, Lance, and Felicia are appealing and well-played by Zuckerman, Duke, and Crew. Duke and Crew, in particular, get the frequent share of one-liners and they pull through with great comic personalities. And their characters all have some unique developments (especially Lance who finally finds someone to love). Too bad they’re in a movie that exploits them rather than tries to love them.

NOTE: I really liked that doughnut suit that Ian wears a few times in the movie. That alone gets a big laugh.

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