Two and a half stars (R)
I had zero expectations when I attended one of the nationwide sneak previews of the horny teen comedy Sex Drive Saturday night. The last flick in the genre I caught was College, as lousy an Animal House rip-off as has ever been made. I only went to see this movie because my son wanted to go and, of course, it’s my job to catch as many new releases as possible. Besides, I needed something for the feature review slot this week and the other films opening Friday were either being screened after our print deadline (W., The Secret Life of Bees) or not at all (Max Payne).
So there I sat in the snazzy AMC Greenwood Park Cinemas, waiting to go to work. Meanwhile, my son shuffled restlessly in his seat, ready for the lights to go down so he could open his smuggled-in Sprite Zero and 100-calorie snack packs, with visions of raunchy antics and bare breasts dancing through his head.
We spent an hour and 48 minutes watching Sex Drive and you know what? I enjoyed myself more than I expected. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the movie good, but if you’re of a mind to attend a comedy that tries to capture that mixture of crudeness and charm that Judd Apatow and company has successfully employed in productions like Superbad, you could do worse than this.
The set-up: mild-mannered 18-year-old Chicagoan Ian (Josh Zuckerman) is subject to frequent attacks — most of them in the form of gay-bashing insults — from his aggressively creepy older brother Rex (James Marsden). During the day, Ian hangs with his “best friend” Felicia (Amanda Crew), who he has been in love with for years, and his pal Lance (Clark Duke), a pudgy kid whose immense likability has allowed him to become a ladies man.
At night, he maintains a flirtatious online relationship with a gorgeous Knoxville, TN, woman who calls herself Ms. Tasty. When she offers to “go all the way” if he comes to see her, Ian swipes his brother’s prized 1968 Pontiac GTO and heads south, with Lance and Felicia in tow. And so the road trip begins.
Incidentally, the kids note that their journey from Chicago to Knoxville will mostly be on I-65. Now I could be wrong, but I think a montage of the early part of the trip includes a shot of that great red bridge on the interstate near Columbus, IN, followed shortly by a quick drive-by shot of downtown Indianapolis. Huh. If I’m correct, then the itinerary of Ian and his friends took them through a hole in the space-time continuum.
But I digress, mostly because there’s not a lot more to say. The gross-out gags are nothing special (an old guy’s testicles hanging out of his shorts — hilarious), but the three main actors have a sweet quality that makes the silly, occasionally draggy, quest pay off more than the script deserves. And there’s a pretty good extended encounter with a group of Amish young people, including scene-stealer Seth Green, who states that the thing he misses most from his Rumspringa days is sarcasm, which he uses to great effect with outsiders. Funny stuff.
My son loved Sex Drive. It was as nasty as he’d hoped and there were enough bare breasts to meet his quota. Me, I liked the movie enough to give it two and a half stars, which is one and a half more stars than I gave College. How’s that for a half-assed recommendation?