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Sex Drive

(2008) ** R
108 min. Summit Entertainment, LLC. Director: Sean Anders. Cast: Josh Zuckerman, Amanda Crew, Clark Duke, James Marsden, Charlie McDermott.


Formula rules the day in Sex Drive, an R-rated teen comedy that’s likeable enough, and even amusing for stretches, but ultimately too generic for a recommendation. Josh Zuckerman plays 18-year-old virgin Ian, who nervously seizes the day and his brother’s beloved 1969 GTO “The Judge” to rendezvous with a girl he’s been chatting with on the internet. Yep, it’s a road trip, with his two bestest friends on board: ladies’ man Lance (Clark Duke) and lifelong friend Felicia (Amanda Crew). Naturally, there’s romantic tension despite Felicia’s insistence that they should remain friends and no more. This storyline helps to ground what’s otherwise a string of wacky situations and gross-out sex jokes.

Though adapted from Andy Behrens’ novel All The Way, Sex Drive’s plot is basically the same as The Sure Thing, updated to include savvy references to IM sessions and YouTube (the former provides the film’s graphic sensibility of pop-up windows, emoticons, and internet salaciousness). As a hero, Ian is the archetypal teenage virgin, his masculinity impugned by his 14-year-old brother Dylan, who’s got game, but even by the Jean-Claude Van Damme poster on the wall of Ian’s bedroom.

The outrageousness hits and misses, in terms of laughs. It’s hard not to chuckle when Señor Donut employee Ian must submit to the ignominious duty of handing out coupons in a Mexican donut costume that’s regularly vandalized with a big, black stick-on dildo. (And Señor Donut will appear again, under even more bizarre circumstances.) Two sexually bluff, mouthbreathing mallrats named Andy and Randy are breakout characters, perhaps destined for their own direct-to-video spinoff movie.

The road to Knoxville holds in store an intimidating hitchhiker (David Koechner) and passes through Amish territory, allowing for some very odd and very funny character comedy by Seth Green as a sarcastic Amish dude. Rumspringa is in full swing, as well, which the filmmakers take as an excuse to show off Amish girls gone wild (drunk and topless), and squeeze in a cameo by Fall Out Boy, playing a gig almost as absurd as a mexican donut with genitals.

The best actor in the picture is no contest: James Marsden plays Ian’s homophobic brother, the overcompensating owner of the aforementioned GTO. Practically sweating testosterone, Marsden is a whirlwind of politically incorrect energy that allows the filmmakers to squeeze laughs from homophobic slurs and then pull back from the abyss with a decisive “just kidding.” Yes, in a weird sort of apology for a couple of hours of heterosexism, they have their dick and eat it too.

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Aspect ratios: 1.78:1, 1.85:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1

Street date: 2/23/2009

Distributor: Summit Entertainment

The Blu-ray of Sex Drive floors it with both the Theatrical Cut and brand-new Unrated Cut that runs twenty minutes longer with added scenes, alternate takes and digitally inserted naked people (I'm not kidding, though the filmmakers make it clear that they are in a video intro to the Unrated Cut.)

The picture quality is impeccable, as one would expect of a brand-new film: spotless, razor-sharp and accurately bright and colorful. Sound comes in very serviceable Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks.

The bonus features include an audio commentary with writer-director Sean Anders, writer-producer John Morris and producer Bob Levy. After a jokey first couple of minutes, the crew gets down to a zippy accounting of the film's inception and memorable moments from the production.

"Sex Drive: Making a Masterpiece" (11:41, SD) is a hilariously tongue-in-cheek spoof of making-of featurettes, with Seth Green, James Marsden, Clark Duke, Josh Zuckerman, Amanda Crew, Anders, Morris, and Levy doing their best to insult each other.

Taking the same tack are two silly pieces built around cast members. "The Marsden Dilemma" (4:48, SD) roasts the good-looking star with comments by Marsden, Anders, Green, Crew, Zuckerman and Duke, and "Clark: Duke of the Internet" (3:58, SD) is equally condescending to not-so-good-looking Duke, with interviewees Duke, Anders, Zuckerman, Crew, Green, and Marsden doing the honors.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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