Directed by: Sean Anders (Never Been Thawed)
Starring: Josh Zuckerman, Amanda Crew, Clark Duke, James Marsden, Seth Green
I’m never one to put much stock in the opinions of the faceless masses that post on the Internet Movie Database, but while preparing the review for this movie, I came upon one user’s comment that was so pointedly accurate and elegant in its concision that I can think of no better way to sum up Sean Anders’ Sex Drive: “This movie sucks.” I couldn’t agree more.
Sex Drive is yet another attempt at replicating the success of last year’s Superbad (it should come as no surprise that Sex Drive supporting actor Clark Duke works with Superbad’s Michael Cera on the CBS-sponsored Internet sitcom Clark and Michael). To make matters worse, it follows the last imitation of Superbad—College—by only a month. In Sex Drive’s defense, it’s not as inexorably horrific as College, but then again, that movie is one of such monumental idiocy and monolithic ineptitude that it would be quite a task to replicate it. Sex Drive is simply run-of-the-mill.
The story retells the tale of an awkward, sex-starved teen attempting to finally lose his virginity. The concept is so worn-out and overdone that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find paintings of the notion splattered onto cave walls. In any case, here our chaste, unsullied adolescent is Ian (Josh Zuckerman, Surviving Christmas), a high-school student whose job entails wandering the local mall dressed as a Mexican-themed donut. At 18, Ian has gone his entire life without a girlfriend due to his gawky demeanor. When he’s invited to drive from his Chicago suburb to Tennessee for a tryst with a mysterious girl he’s met on the Internet, Ian steals his brother’s ’69 GTO, and along with his two best friends—the supposedly debonair Lance (TV actor Clark Duke) and the pseudo-gothy, mall-punkish nice-girl Felicia (Amanda Crew, She’s the Man)—makes the trek with the requisite high jinks and the obvious outcomes. Considering the price of gas involved in driving a 40-year-old muscle car 500 miles, it would seem that Ian could’ve found a less pricey alternative to his little problem that would’ve been just as meaningless and pointless, but then we wouldn’t have this movie. If only.
The film then becomes a flood of recycled gross-out gags, involving any number of bodily fluids, gratuitous nudity and even a glory hole thrown in just to class things up. It’s nothing new, and it’s nothing terribly daring, though it does manage to be not quite as obnoxious as College simply because its leads are sort of likable. Zuckerman (a 23-year-old playing an 18-year-old who looks like a 30-something-year-old) and Duke are both innately likable, even if they’re given zero material to work with. At the very least, they keep the makers from needing to be tarred and feathered.
Some critics have argued that Seth Green—as an incredibly deadpan, sarcastic Amish person—is the film’s highlight, but his is a role based on a one-joke premise, one that gets used more than Star Wars references in a Kevin Smith flick. I believe the real bright spot to be James Marsden, who plays Ian’s obviously closeted, meathead older brother. Aside from getting the film’s sole funny line, he also genuinely seems to be having fun.
But ultimately, Zuckerman, Duke and Marsden aren’t enough to save the film—or a reason to watch it. They do, however, prevent the movie from being quite as painful as it should’ve been. Regardless, it’s not a film with any sort of staying power, meaning Sex Drive’s likely destined for the world of constant Comedy Central rotation and $5 DVD dump bins in short order. Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, language, some drug and alcohol use—all involving teens.