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Sex Drive

Summit Entertainment // Unrated // February 24, 2009
List Price: $34.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted March 1, 2009 | E-mail the Author
"Don Henley's words represent our love."

Wait, what are we looking at here?
  • An oversized, gun-toting Mexican doughnut.
  • A battle royale in a sleazy, themed hotel room with fake flickering flames and a hunky fireman cardboard standup.
  • A parade of radiator pissing.
  • Purple soda-fu.
  • The prince from Enchanted as a homophobe who beats down a garage door with his bare hands. ...and he kicks it and headbutts it too, I guess.
  • A dweeby schlub asking a Jean Claude Van Damme poster for advice on how much he could lie about benchpressing to impress some chick online.
  • Seth Green as a dryly sarcastic Amish guy who'd love to fix up that stolen '69 GTO for free, and he's helpful enough to point out that rumspringa isn't a ska band from Delaware.
  • I mean, this is a flick where Clark Duke -- of Clark and Michael kinda-sorta-fame -- is bareassed naked, running around handcuffed to a ripped-off bedpost through a cornfield as a double-digit IQ redneck chases him down in his pickup truck. Oh, and in the unrated version, it intercuts to a closeup of a cleanly-shaven dong flopping around for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
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I guess what I'm getting at is that Sex Drive isn't just another direct-to-video-American Pie-sequel-grade teen sex comedy.

The plot! Ian (Josh Zuckerman) is fresh out of high school and itching to lose the whole nice guy label. I mean, he couldn't even score a real date for the prom, tagging along with his pal Felicia (Amanda Crew) who he's been hung up on for years although she just wants to be friends. Anyway, Ian's been chatting up a girl online, and this scrawny guy who looks like he tops out at a buck thirty has duped Ms_Tasty into thinking he's some overmuscled football jock type. She tells him that if Ian's willing to go all the way from the 'burbs of Chicago to her digs in Knoxville, she'll go all the way with him. You got it: Sex Drive. Ian grabs his womanizing buddy Lance (Clark Duke) for the trip and winds up dragging Felicia along too, swiping his brother's 1969 GTO Judge and heading for Tennessee. 'Course, watching two guys and a gal tear down the interstate for nine hours straight wouldn't be all that fun to watch, so it kinda goes without saying that they get sidetracked with everything from a truck stop gloryhole to a Cleveland Steamer to an inappropriate hard-on at a county fair dance-off.

I know Sex Drive is currently bobbing around the 50% mark on Rotten Tomatoes, but for whatever it's worth, I loved the holy hell out of it. Even with a runtime that clocks in just shy of two hours, the flick's firing on all cylinders from the first frame to the last. The pacing never drags, none of the gags are clunky enough to score one of those head-shaking groans, and Sex Drive kept me cackling more than any comedy I've caught in months. It's really accomplished for a movie hammered out by first-timers too. A lot of these sex comedies awkwardly shift back and forth between the jokes and the plot, grinding to a halt whenever it's time to nudge the story forward and veering off-course to throw in a laugh just because it's been three minutes since the last one. Sex Drive juggles it all really well, though. It's always plowing ahead, the gags and the story never trip over each other, and an inhuman percentage of the hypervulgar jokes kept me cracking up. Instead of just skipping ahead from one big setpiece to the next, Sex Drive opts to let its sense of humor snowball, building up to its final twenty minutes and change that are devastatingly hysterical.

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easy point of reference would be something like The Girl Next Door, which is also wickedly funny and unflinchingly vulgar, but there's a sincere warmth and intelligence bubbling underneath too. (It takes a slew of genuinely bright people to hammer out this kind of sex comedy. Take a peek at Tomcats if you want to see how the other half lives.) I actually felt invested -- I know! -- in these characters: the pushover nice guy, his too-cute best friend who isn't just another "the girl of your dreams is right under your nose!" cliché, Clark Duke steals every last scene he's in. Even though he's not the dashing pretty boy type like James Marsters, Duke's unwavering confidence onscreen really does make him seem like he could be a ladykiller, and his improvised dialogue is flat-out genius. There's a ridiculous amount of chemistry between the three leads, and Sex Drive would be an unrecognizably different movie with any other names plastered across the marquee.

Oh, and Sex Drive piles on two versions of the flick on Blu-ray. The "real" movie is the R-rated version that made the rounds theatrically, and the unrated cut is borderline-psychotic. This isn't one of those cases where the studio splices back in a couple more explicit shots and maybe a little extra nudity. Sex Drive's unrated version clocks in at a full twenty minutes longer than the R-rated cut, and a bunch of the deleted scenes, alternate improv'ed lines, and even a few outtakes with the cast and crew cracking up have been shoved in here. To squeeze the most out of the "unrated" label, there are even random shots of topless women strolling around for no reason at all, and the genitalia from the X-Y set snags a bunch of extra screentime too, including one conversation where the camera sticks on a close-up of a fake scrotum for almost the entire time. There's some deliberately, awesomely bad looping tossed in there too that scores a huge laugh. Watch the R-rated cut first, but...yeah, the unrated version is essential viewing. It's a spoof on unrated DVDs, really, and it's pretty damned brilliant.

Sex Drive sputtered and died at the box office, but if you're up for a really sharp and unrelentingly funny teen sex comedy, it really is worth picking up on Blu-ray. Highly Recommended.

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The theatrical and unrated cuts of Sex Drive each score their own separate 1080p AVC encodes, with the unrated version lightly letterboxed to 1.85:1 while the R-rated cut strips out the mattes for an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.

Sex Drive looks pretty decent in high-def. The photography sometimes looks a little fuzzy around the edges, but there's a really strong sense of detail, and the bright, candy-colored palette leaps a couple hundred feet off the screen. This Blu-ray disc doesn't look filtered or processed -- a faint trace of film grain is retained, which I'd chalk up as a good thing -- and I couldn't spot any hiccups with the compression. For an under-the-radar comedy, I don't have any gripes, and bringing David Gordon Green's favorite D.P. on-board definitely works in its favor.

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The two different cuts of Sex Drive gobble up so much space on this dual-layer disc that I guess there wasn't room to do the whole lossless audio thing. This Dolby Digital 5.1 track (640Kbps) is still pretty solid, though, and the sound design's more aggressive than a standard issue comedy mix. The surrounds keep chattering away with a pretty strong sense of atmosphere, and the throaty growl of that '69 GTO, the thumping bass at Lance's house party, the digital whoosh of those text messages, and bombadier nacho grandes and chalupas take better-than-average advantage of all the channels at its fingertips. Its dialogue remains consistently clean and discernable from start to finish as well. It doesn't sport the same sense of distinctness and clarity I'm used to hearing on Blu-ray, no, but Sex Drive's lossy audio is still better than I waltzed in expecting, so take that for what it's worth.

The theatrical cut of the flick also piles on a Spanish dub in stereo. Both versions toss on subtitles in English (SDH) and Spanish.

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Sean Anders and John Morris make it pretty clear in their intro that the unrated cut of Sex Drive is meant to be taken as an extra, and some of the usual DVD-slash-Blu-ray mainstays like deleted scenes and outtakes are all crammed into that version of the flick.

Once you stroll past the unrated version, though, there's not all that much left to spout off. Sex Drive piles on around 20 minutes of quippy EPKs and interviews, kicking off with the faux-pretentious "Sex Drive: Making of a Masterpiece" (11 min.). That riff on making-of featurettes rails into pretty much everyone on both sides of the camera, and James Marsden and Clark Duke each get their own interview bits to take some extra abuse.

The only other extra is an audio commentary with director/co-writer Sean Anders, co-writer/producer John Morris, and producer Bob Levy. Don't be thrown off by the kinda-obnoxious first couple of minutes; this is actually a pretty great track once it settles in. I mean, in the space of a few minutes, you hear "there were kids around who haven't seen a 14 inch black cock on a doughnut before, and we didn't want to traumatize anyone", and that kind of says it all right there. It's not glad-handing or self-congratulatory; Anders and Morris don't mind poking fun at themselves and are honest about some of the hiccups that crept into making their first feature film. Some of the highlights...? A count of just how many pairs of shoes a grand can buy when you're decorating a tree for two full days, casting a suitable ass double, digitally fiddling with a rice rocket after realizing it had been modeled directly after one of the cars in The Fast and Furious, and casting someone other than a stock pretty boy type for the part of Lance. (Oh, and speaking of which, Clark Duke does chime in for a few minutes on his cell.) I dug it.

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The Final Word
Sex Drive grabs the best parts of Road Trip, The Girl Next Door, Eurotrip, and...y'know, whatever other teen sex comedies you feel like rattling off here, chucks them in a blender, and mashes the "Purée" button for a couple hours straight. It's a perfectly cast flick that's equal parts sugary sweet, unrelentingly funny, and unabashedly vulgar, and Sex Drive's deliriously over-the-top spoof of unrated DVDs has to rank somewhere up there as one of the all-time most ingenious extras on a disc ever. Highly Recommended.
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Highly Recommended

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