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SEX DRIVE (2008) **** movie review by COOP

Posted on October 22nd, 2008
Posted on October 22nd, 2008


What an unfortunately lame title for such a fun comedy. “Sex Drive” may be cheesy pun, but the film is higher quality than it looks. Capitalizing on the new surge of rated “R” comedies, Director Sean Anders has crafted a screwball teen sex romp that should please the younger generation’s appetite for crude and rude humor. While not nearly as well crafted or as well acted as “Superbad,” bank on “Sex Drive” becoming a cult classic, if not one of the most entertaining lowbrow comedies of its type.

The setup sounds about as immature as the genre can muster. Ian (Josh Zuckerman) is a high school senior/nerd who spends his free time talking to a pretty girl online and convincing her he’s a football hero. When “Ms. Tasty” convinces Ian to come down to Knoxville, TN to meet her, he steal’s his brother’s 1969 GTO nicknamed “The Judge” and hits the road with his swinger buddy, Lance (Clark Duke) and his platonic girlfriend, Felicia (Amanda Crew). Along the way they run afoul of the fuzz, vengeful roughnecks, perverts, carjackers and abstinence advocates. Oh yeah, and they party with the Amish.

I enjoyed this film way back in 1985 when it was called “The Sure Thing” starring John Cusack. “Sex Drive” is by no means an original idea, but it beats most of those similarly-themed teen flicks that came before it. The gag-heavy script relentlessly delivers joke after joke, leaving no lulls or moments of boredom. The clever writing allows for many of the jokes to pay off more than once, escalating the effectiveness of the humor. Attention to detail and little gimmicks make some moments even funnier, like the talking Jean Claude Van Damme poster that gives Ian hysterically bad advice on women.

One irritating aspect of the film is how Ian gets humiliated over and over again during the course of the story. However, if you know teen sex comedies, this is par for the course. If you can ignore the flaws in the formula, you’ll lose count of how many hilarious moments get crammed into 103 minutes of running time. This movie attempts to top “Superbad” in its gross-out jokes and lewd moments and on that aspect it succeeds. The scenes build on one another, culminating in an outrageous ending that keeps the laughs flowing.

As a lead, Josh Zuckerman proved the weakest link of the film. His character Ian is a sleazy little twerp who is so desperate to lose his virginity, he resorts to lying to gain even a slight chance of success. He often comes across as a cad but redeems himself during several genius scenes, the best of which has him wearing a giant talking Mexican doughnut suit. It’s the physical humor where Zuckerman finds his talent and the scenes with him operating “Señor Doughnut” are no doubt the most iconic of the film. Otherwise, he is a whiney jerk which ironically makes his endless humiliations easier to digest.

The rest of the performances give “Sex Drive” its zing. Clark Duke as Lance is not much to look at but his overwhelming confidence makes him an unlikely pickup artist. He adds to many of the scenes with his witty observational humor and memorable one-liners. Amanda Crew gives the movie a lot of heart as Felicia, and makes for a charming and pretty distraction for Ian. Two of the biggest scene-stealers come in the form of Rex (James Marsden), Ian’s cruel jock brother and Ezekiel (Seth Green) a smart-alec Amish car enthusiast. While Green’s dry, sarcastic wit came as no surprise, Marsden blindsided me with his pitch perfect comedic timing. I always considered Marsden a bore as the strong, silent type, but he nailed the mean jock brother with more gusto than I ever imagined he possessed. He might start stealing roles from comedy A-listers if he plays his cards right.

A special notice should go to the two skater punks Andy and Randy (played by Charlie McDermott and Mark L. Young respectively). These obnoxious guys have two or three uproarious scenes where they ineptly try to pick up girls with alternating, machine gun-like tenacity. They could easily star in their own live action “Beavis and Butthead” film.

Nearly all of the scenes from “Sex Drive” are quotable and will no doubt become subject to lengthy discussion around high school water fountains. Much of it is formulaic and predictable. As a premise, it’s not even remotely interesting, but the delivery makes this road trip worthwhile. Watching Seth Green mercilessly mess with people’s minds and Marsden’s wild temper tantrums will put this high on my re-watch list. It may not break box office records but I suspect it will find a massive DVD audience, much like “Office Space” or “Idiocracy” did before it.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Here’s the “Red Band” trailer for “Sex Drive” (meaning it contains rated “R” content) which really gives you a feel for the level of raunch in the actual film…

Now compare it with the trailer for the 1985 film “The Sure Thing.” They aren’t the same movie but the premise is exactly the same…

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