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Not to badmouth American Pie, I actually really enjoyed it and its sequels, albeit less with each installment (and I mean the theatrically released offspring), but I must blame it for the dearth of quality for copycats each year. Sure there are some surprises—Eurotrip, I know, I really liked it, sue me—mixed in with the drivel, it’s just a shame they are so few and far between. Nothing will ever compare to the greats such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, nor the more sentimental cousins like The Breakfast Club, but at least give us something original and charming. This week’s release of Sex Drive just unveils a mixture of clichés and sexual innuendos. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed, quite a bit, possibly moreso for the absurdity of it all rather than genuine comedy, but laughed nonetheless. There are some likeable characters and fun things going on as it all progresses to its inevitable climax that could have been written by a teenager who just watched 80’s films and youtube, deciding to mash them together. Obvious is an understatement; enjoyable a word to be used very carefully. You could do a lot worse, but you could also start a bank account with the nine bucks you have to fork over too … hey, it’s your choice.

Like many before, and many more to come, the film revolves around a quasi-geek desperately looking to lose his virginity, not so much for the prospect of having sex, but instead to get everyone off his back about it. Ian (Josh Zuckerman) has decided to go the route of internet messaging to find a girl, using the informality to create a persona unlike him, but more in line with “what girls want”. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill loser though, he’s a kid on the fringe of high school, friends of differing clique status and really just a bit socially awkward when it comes to women and groups of people. The more dweeby kid, Lance (Clark Duke), is actually the lothario of the film. Don’t ask me why or how, but this kid looks like the one that would be getting slammed into lockers, instead, though, he can talk his way into any female’s pants. And of course, we have the “best friend” Felicia (Amanda Crew) thrown into the pot to add tension and suspense. Will she and Ian finally declare their love for each other? Will she forever not be into him yet always prevent him from being with anyone else? Or will the two go their separate ways with the unbearable weight of friendship too much to overcome their inner love for each other? Oh, the torture, I really couldn’t tell what would happen. I mean, wow, I had never seen anything like it before. (Please, I hope you sensed sarcasm there. If you don’t know how it will end, you really need to get out more).

A premise about driving nine hours to meet his web-girl is of course ripe for humor. He must steal his older, prick brother’s 1969 GTO, (James Marsden’s Rex is fantastic, definitely the highlight of the film), and reconcile the fact that his love/friend is on the journey with him. Looking to sow his wild oats with the woman of his dreams riding shotgun…no good can come of this. And it doesn’t. Jealous boyfriends enter the fray, the car gets banged up mechanically and physically, a strange hitchhiker joins the fold briefly, and the Amish play a big role. As far as the Amish are concerned, you must give credit to Seth Green for actually being funny. His deadpan jerking around of our trio of leads is perfect …”no I live to solve people’s problems for free.” But then you also must give them hell for adding Fall Out Boy to the proceedings to add some fangirl credibility maybe? I don’t know. Their very short appearance just shows what’s wrong with films like this rather than adds anything of substance. Wow, the Amish bring emo bands to the prairie for Rumspring, the one time they can let their hair down and taste the good life. There was no relevance whatsoever to their being shown.

So, while the leads are somewhat endearing and you do want to watch it all come to a conclusion, there are no real surprises. Thankfully, after a very crude and gross start, the comedy becomes a little less bodily fluids and more situational comedy. There are some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments: Marsden air-kicking the garage door and falling down, Marsden flipping over his bike, Marsden dumping his bike as it sparks down the street to check his garage, Marsden…you get the idea. I don’t want to undersell the rest, the two eccentric boys hitting on anything that moves are great, the finale brawl/cat fight is funny just for the reaction shots, and the hotel rooms in Knoxville are just plain awesome. Sex Drive is definitely a film that will be seen no matter what anyone hears about it; highschoolers flock to this kind of thing and eat it right up. Unfortunately it is nothing more than the same old tale rehashed and repackaged for one more year.

Sex Drive 3/10

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photography:
[1] JAMES MARSDEN stars in Sex Drive, a Summit Entertainment release. Photo Credit: Van Redin
[2] CLARK DUKE (left) and JOSH ZUCKERMAN (right) star in Sex Drive, a Summit Entertainment release. Photo Credit: Van Redin

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