Some say a picture is worth a thousand words, but they never say that a disappointing movie is worth just as many. Since the days of American Pie, it seems like the bar for the teen film recently raised with such instant classics as Mean Girls, Superbad, and Juno. Sex Drive seemed to have all the qualifications to make that list. Unfortunately, it fell way short, with only a few bright spots.
Unfortunately, I came into the movie late, but it didn’t seem like I missed much. The story revolves around teenage Ian (no, this movie is not about me, shutup), an 18-year-old from suburban Chicago whose getting ready for college, yet is still (gasp!) a virgin. Hmmm…never heard of that happening before. Well, his best friend is equally dorky Lance (Clark and Michael’s Clark Duke) who has a strange ability to have sex with every woman he meets. Ian has also had a long platonic friendship with a girl named Felicia (Amanda Crew), and obviously some strange tension has been brewing up between them since hormones kicked in.
Desperate to finally lose his virginity, Ian goes online, pretends to be a buff football player, and attracts the attention of a blonde named Ms. Tasty (30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden). Tasty promises Ian that if he makes it down to Knoxville within the next two days, she’ll go all the way with him. Immediately, Ian Felicia, and Lance head on a road trip down to Knoxville.
Now, no matter how many times the teen flick/road movie/maturity over the course of a day or two is used, I never get bored of it. That is, if the movie pumps something original into the formula or makes it lively and realistic. Not even a guy getting shot at in a donut suit is as funny as the trailer makes it seem.
Sex Drive contains a cast of talented actors and some possible big stars. Duke went from an internet sensation and now has a big chance at fame on the big screen, as he manages to get some laughs out of cliche situations and some clunky lines. And unfortunately, Bowden, who has proved herself both hilarious and talented on 30 Rock is not given much chance to show off her comedy chops in this movie. The movie might’ve been funnier had it given her more screen time and let her act in her stupid-as-Paris Hilton dumb blonde like way. And James Marden (Hairspray) steals every second he’s on screen as Ian’s psycho older brother whose a little too obsessed with his car (and not taking care of his motorcycle).
The movie in ways tries to be like Harold and Kumar, spinning around the stereotypes of certain groups in America. Harold and Kumar makes the KKK seem like a bunch of guys who just want to party, and Sex Drive makes the Amish seem like a people who like to fix up cars and throw Fall Out Boy concerts (doesn’t that kind of go against Amish beliefs?). However, Seth Green as a hip Amish guy provides a few chuckles.
And that’s the problem, all Sex Drive really gives off is a few chuckles here and there, but no laughs that really stay with you. Maybe that’s because most of the actors seem pretty bored. Most of the actors had the potential to make this movie funnier but it’s the script that mainly keeps it down. The best high school films, mainly Dazed and Confused and Superbad work not just because of their amazing ensembles but also their scripts, or lack thereof. Both films contain dialogue that feels improvised, like very typical daily conversation between two teens. That’s what helped make the friendship between Seth and Evan so believable in Superbad, or the relationship between the jocks and the nerds in Dazed and Confused make so much sense. The characters in Sex Drive however, seem like they’re just waiting for the next person to speak when the script orders them too. Not much freedom, not much fun, not much like high schoolers. That’s why Lance and Ian don’t feel like actual best friends. Little conflict happens between them; even if they died in a car explosion in each others arm, the audience would barely feel anything for them. If that happened to Seth and Evan though, tears would be shed.
The dialogue is also not very culturally aware, like the hilariously pop culture pumped dialogue of a Judd Apatow film. That also makes the very dirty sex jokes feel a little cleaner. Just conversing about different sex positions and parts of the male genitalia doesn’t immediately make it funny.
Sex Drive is enough to make you chuckle, and maybe smile a few times, but the funniest jokes were revealed in the trailer.
If you want to see a a truthful, painfully awkward and realistic portrayal of high school, watch the afformentioned Superbad and Dazed and Confused. The Brekfast Club or Fast Times at Ridgemont High will better satisfy your needs. Or better yet, read I Love You, Beth Cooper, a book that’s as wildly over the top as Sex Drive yet takes time to focus on the characters’ relationships and offer a thorough satire of the ridiculousness of high school and our modern internet culture. And we have some real reason to love the nerdy protagonist. Read that and you’ll get the experience that Sex Drive should’ve been.
SOLVE THE METAPHOR: If you’ve seen the movie, the scene in which they hang the shoes on the tree. A metaphor for freedom and maturity? The only deep and interesting part of the movie? You decide. It could just earn you a prize of my deciding…