10 May 2009

Movie Review: Sex Drive


Sex Drive
2008, 109mins, R
Director: Sean Anders
Writer (s): Sean Anders, John Morris
Cast includes: Josh Zuckerman, Clark Duke, Amanda Crew, Seth Green, James Marsden, Katrina Bowden
Release Date: 17th October 2008

“Sex Drive” is neither original nor eminently memorable, but that’s not to say it’s a total waste. The film directed by Sean Anders follows virtually every teen sex comedy tradition to the note and probably would have been more at home in a pre-“Superbad” age, but it does have a fair few belly laughs and a surprisingly well staged emotional climax. I suppose one might say that unlike most road trip comedies “Sex Drive” suffers a hit and miss journey, but boasts a surprisingly satisfying destination.

The films key protagonist is Ian (Josh Zuckerman) and 18 year old who has yet to have a girlfriend, let alone sex. His best friend Lance (Clark Duke) is a tubby yet highly confident babe magnet, his 14 year old brother has more notches on the bedpost, and his oldest sibling Rex (James Marsden) is mighty homophobic and starting to get suspicious of Ian. The girl Ian wants is long time friend Felicia (Amanda Crew) but she is insistent that they stay just friends, and aside from her Ian has little contact with females as a general rule. However things take a turn for the better when Ian manages to score a date with internet uber-babe Miss Tasty (Katrina Bowden), who insists that if Ian travels all the way to meet her in Knoxville, she’ll make it worth his while. Spurred on by an excitable Lance and with a reluctant Felicia in tow, Ian steals his brothers prized car and begins the nine hour trek to losing his cherry, but being a teen road trip the adventure doesn’t pass without incident.

“Sex Drive” is as vulgar as any teen comedy I’ve seen recently, the emphasis for the gags consistently centered on bodily functions, genitals and various acts of crude intercourse. Like “Superbad” and “American Pie” the movie earns its R rating with as much gross out content and copious nudity as it can cram into the runtime, but unlike those two pictures it doesn’t always use these assets to the best effect. As a comedy there are definitely moments of inspiration to be located in “Sex Drive”, but by the same token a lot feels stale. Writers Sean Anders and John Morris seem to have done a fair bit of artistic swindling in order to craft some of their jokes, and that from an audience’s perspective is always a waste of time. Some of the comedic material in “Sex Drive” feels like the umpteenth cover of an already over exposed song, minus whatever delights the far distant original version had to offer. To be fair when the gags work they really do go for broke, but one suspects that in trying to fill out some extra chortles, the screenwriters where more than content to simply rework past material.

The films saving grace are the solid performances and unlikely slices of character development, at times “Sex Drive” feels more like something to come from John Hughes than a yuk-yuk hipster. I was particularly impressed with Zuckerman and Crew, who combine nicely to make the final 25 minutes of “Sex Drive” almost compelling. The outcome is massively predictable but in that period of time the two youngsters make the emotional trip joyfully real and full of angst. As Lance, Clark Duke is all about the acid tongued barbs and misogynistic behavior, but even he is afforded a touching moment or two. This sort of character has been done better by other actors in the past, but Duke is credible enough, even though his true love when encountered puts a ridiculously distracting spin on reality. James Marsden and Seth Green (as a sarcastic Amish dude) provide the majority of the comic relief, and in her modestly allotted screentime Katrina Bowden is convincingly sexy as Miss Tasty.

The character development affords “Sex Drive” a truly emotionally resonant finish, and in truth is what keeps it just above distasteful mediocrity. There are some who will just be watching for the crudity and T&A (both delivered in generous amounts) but for those looking for a more rewarding watch “Sex Drive” has the decency to include a little extra. It never approaches “Superbad” levels of goodness but lord does it try, and with a little more practice and the same focus on character Morris and Ander’s might one day hit that mark. Better than the average teen comedy, “Sex Drive” is a footnote rather than a milestone, but as far as little steps go it’s modestly amusing.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


Matrixx said...

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