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Eighteen year old Ian finally gets the opportunity to lose his virginity when a woman he meets on-line offers to have sex with him if he drives to Knoxville to meet her. Accompanied by friends Lance and Felicia, whom Ian has a thing for, but she in turn has a thing for Lance, take off on a road trip in Ian's brother, Rex's beloved 1969 GTO -- without permission of course.
For more about Sex Drive and the Sex Drive Blu-ray release, see Sex Drive Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on September 1, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Sean Anders
Writers: Sean Anders, John Morris (XIX)
Starring: Josh Zuckerman, Amanda Crew, Clark Duke, James Marsden, Seth Green, Alice Greczyn
» See full cast & crew
Sex Drive Blu-ray Review
All the way to grandma’s house…
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, September 1, 2009
Between the arrested development of Step Brothers, the pot-addled hijinks of Pineapple Express, and Tropic Thunder's A-list, meta-movie hilarity—not to mention Zack and Miri, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Burn After Reading—2008 was a crowded year for comedy. Pushed aside to a mid-October release date, Sex Drive was the year's requisite and overlooked teen sex flick, a genre that's been legitimatized lately in the wake of director/producer Judd Apatow's crude 'n cuddly coming-of-age comedies. While the teen sex films of yore often had a leering, seedy quality—I imagine middle-aged lurkers in trench coats scattered throughout the audience—today's iterations try to underscore the rampant T&A with a little bit of H, for heart, mixing the horny ogling of Bob Clark's Porky's with the emotional, archetypal teen drama of a John Hughes film. And the emphasis here is definitely on try. While Sex Drive has a few funny moments, and though it wants to be a heartfelt story of a loveable loser trying to get his nut, when it comes down to it, the emphasis is still on stale dick jokes and flashes of boob.
And fair enough, most people go to sex comedies specifically for penis humor and bared breasts. No one assumes the latest lewd, teenage farce will have Fellini-like layers of erotic subtlety. So, let's all take a moment to collectively lower our expectations and brain capacities. A little lower…a little lower…okay, good. Now, with a governor regulating our cranial engines, we should all titter and giggle like third-graders at the mere sight of a nipple-slip. This seems to be the prerequisite mental state for proper enjoyment of Sex Drive. That, or being pleasantly drunk.
As the film opens, 18 year-old virgin Ian Lafferty (Josh Zuckerman) is chatting online with "Ms. Tasty," an anonymous potential paramour. Naturally, he falsifies some pertinent information, claiming to be a weight-lifting, '69 Pontiac GTO-driving football player. In reality, the car belongs to Ian's ultra-macho older brother Rex (James Marsden), who's convinced his little bro has "gone gay." When Ms. Tasty says she'll "go all the way" with Ian if he drives down to Knoxville to meet her, Ian jacks the GTO and heads southbound, along with his friend Lance (Clark Duke), a diehard ladies man, and BFF Felicia (Amanda Crew), who thinks they're going to visit Ian's grandma. Of course, the three friends are actually embroiled in an obtuse love triangle. Felicia has a minor crush on Lance, but he won't "tap that" because he lives by a bros before hoes code, and refuses to go behind his friend's back. Ian, on the other hand, has been secretly in love with Felicia since, well, forever, but he's worried about ruining their friendship. And deep down, she feels the same way. On the road, they encounter various obstacles and oddballs, including Seth Green as a sarcastic Amish auto-mechanic, and a trashy convenience store hoochie who wants to give Lance a "Rolling Brownout" (related to the "Cleveland Steamer"—consult UrbanDictionary.com if necessary). When they get to Knoxville—no surprise here—Ms. Tasty isn't exactly who she seems, a pissed-off Rex is hot on their tails, and Ian and Felicia are forced to confront their feelings for one another.
Careful viewers will note striking similarities to Rob Reiner's The Sure Thing, and besides the cribbed plot points, the film borrows liberally from the vast canon of sex comedies. Wet dreams, boners, condom mishaps, and glory holes all find a seamy place here, and what doesn't make you laugh will probably make you wince uncomfortably, or perhaps shift awkwardly in your seat. Do you pine for a long, drawn-out close-up of an old man's ball sack? Look no further! Are you titillated—emphasis on the first syllable—by the prospect of topless girls backstage at an "Abstinence X-treme" tour? Ka-ching! Have you ever wondered what a giant, anthropomorphic, sombrero-wearing donut would look like with an enormous, tumescent penis? Have I got a film for you! Sex Drive doesn't really bring anything new to the genre— okay, boner-sporting donut I'll give you—and what it does, it doesn't do well enough to make it stand out, chubby-like, from the other films of this ilk that gather dust on Blockbuster shelves a year after their release.
The script is fast, breezy, and very occasionally clever, but there's really nothing memorable about Sex Drive aside from a smattering of sight gags and a few performances. As Ian and Felicia, Josh Zuckerman and Amanda Crew do have a cozy, best-friend chemistry, and during the few moments when the film managed to grab me, I found myself actually rooting for them as a couple. Clark Duke, previously known for his internet show with Michael Cera, is responsible for much of the comedy, and with a smoking jacket and ascot he comes off like a young Hugh Hefner in training, objectifying women at every turn. If a more subjectively "attractive" actor had played Lance, the character could have been a major tool, but Duke is just physically awkward enough to make Lance's confidence inexplicable and endearing. Likewise, James Marsden's Rex could have easily taken a nasty, homophobic turn, but Marsden plays him ridiculously over-the-top, like a perverse version of Napoleon Dynamite's Uncle Rico, and his character's inevitable reversal can be seen from a mile off.
I should note that this release contains both the rated-R and "unrated, cream-filled" editions of Sex Drive. Most of the time, I can never differentiate between the theatrical and "unrated" cuts of films—the changes often only amount to a few seconds worth of footage—but Sex Drive leaves nothing to the imagination. In an introduction to the unrated version, director Sean Anders and writer John Morris promise "more tits…bare tits," and they certainly deliver. Periodically, every few scenes or so, naked chicks are digitally inserted into the film like lusty non-sequiturs. This cut also includes extensive adlibbing and even a few outtakes, bumping the overall run-time from a svelte 109 minutes to a somewhat bloated and sluggish 129. Understandably, the director warns, "If you've never seen Sex Drive before, please do not watch this version first."
Sex Drive Blu-ray, Video Quality
Sex Drive comes to Blu-ray with a well-endowed 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. For a relatively low budget teen comedy, the overall look of the production is great, with a sharp, detailed image and a warm, sun-soaked tone that's totally appropriate for a summer road trip. Colors are bright and bold throughout, but the image really pops during some of the outdoor daytime scenes. Just check out the vivid orange/red of Rex's vintage GTO as it tears southbound and sex-ward. Skin tones—and there's ample flesh—are definitely healthy, if a hair unrealistic, as faces can veer toward yellow in the saturated sunlight. Along those lines, contrast is perfectly tuned during daylight, but darker scenes have a flatter look, with blacks that are ever so slightly washed out. Remarkably, there's very little grain to the image at all—just enough to give it a definite filmic appearance—and fine detail is apparent in facial features and clothing textures. As a whole, I have to give Sex Drive credit for avoiding the flat, sterile look that a lot of teen comedies have. Tim Orr's cinematography definitely puts out with a warm, summer of love vibe.
Sex Drive Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Unfortunately, the film skimps out on HD audio, giving us instead a meager and halfway flaccid Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The mix isn't bad by any means, but the dynamic range simply isn't as full- blooded as it could be. This is especially apparent when soundtrack cues kick in, like MGMT's "Time To Pretend." It's easy to imagine a track with better bass response and more articulate clarity in the upper registers. Still, this is a comedy, and the mix does what it needs to do—make sure the jokes come through clear and clean (or, in this case, clear and dirty). Dialogue is well- established in the front channels, so you'll never miss a punch line because of an overcrowded mix. While the rear speakers don't exactly languish, they aren't given too much of a workout either. There's some occasional ambience in the rears, like during Lance's big party, and there are a few stocky pans—mostly cars zooming past—but that's about it for this largely front-heavy production.
Sex Drive Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Commentary by Writer/Director Sean Anders, Writer John Morris, and Producer Bob Levy
Right off the bat, director Sean Anders admits that, having not gone to film school, much of his and Morris' knowledge about filmmaking comes from a handful of excellent director commentaries. As their way of reciprocating, they load up this listenable track with "rookie filmmaker" insights. Anders and Morris are definitely a duo, and so they dominate much of the conversation, leaving Levy to chime in occasionally. The track is pretty typical—they even pull the old trick of calling up Clark Duke and having him talk about a scene over speakerphone—but it's worth a listen if you're up for watching the film again, sans sound.
Sex Drive: Making a Masterpiece (SD, 11:41)
This "making of" featurette differentiates itself from other talking head, EPK pieces by refusing to take itself seriously. Sarcastic answers abound from cast and crew alike, who all seem to recognize that the film isn't exactly Oscar-worthy. There are a few funny moments, but this isn't a must-watch by any means.
The Marsden Dilemma (SD, 4:48)
This is basically a miniature roast of prettyboy James Marsden. The other actors and the director give him a good tongue-in-cheek lambasting for being a totally unfunny, talentless douche.
Clark: Duke of the Internet (SD, 3:58)
Likewise, feature film newcomer Clark Duke gets jokingly torn a new one by his fellow cast members.
Sex Drive Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Sex Drive has a few good gags—I cracked up anytime the donut or Seth Green's sarcastic Amish mechanic were on screen—but the film really doesn't bring anything new to its seamy, libidinous genre. I'm sure the genital jokes and brief glimpses of flesh will be enough for some, but I felt like the film was hobbling along on three flat tires. There so many better, longer-lasting comedies on Blu-ray, so if you must take Sex Drive for a spin, I'd recommend a test-drive rental first.
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Sex Drive Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Sex Drive Coming to Blu-ray - November 24, 2008
Summit Entertainment has announced that they will bring the comedy 'Sex Drive: Unrated and Creme-Filled' to Blu-ray on February 3rd, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented in 1080p accompanied by a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No special ...
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