Friday, June 8, 2012

Bubblegum For Stoners, A Science Fiction Comedy: Dude, Where’s My Car?

The Good: It's ALWAYS nice to see Jennifer Garner and Marla Sokoloff, Convincing acting
The Bad: This is a largely dumb movie
The Basics: With mild entertainment value, Dude, Where’s My Car? is a science fiction comedy that is largely a witless trek around to find a lost car while two stoners are hunted by smarter people and aliens.

For years there was someone in my life trying to convince me that the seminal American movie was Dude Where’s My Car? so last night, I finally broke down and watched it. I now have one less holiday card to send out. Even recognizing Dude Where’s My Car? as a stupid, teen-oriented stoner flick, this movie manages to be lousy.

Best friends Jesse and Chester wake up from a night of being stoned and/or heavy drinking on their anniversary to their girlfriends (who are twins) to discover they have lost the previous night and Jesse's car. As they search for their car to get to their girlfriends, they find themselves hunted by a transsexual, a cadre of "hot chicks," two muscly men and a cult focused on entering outer space. As Jesse and Chester are manipulated for the whereabouts of a device they supposedly possess, they reconstruct the outrageous night they had the night before.

First, what works. At the end of the day, Dude Where’s My Car? is a science fiction comedy. In my book, there are too few of those. Dude Where’s My Car? is, in part, a dimwitted science fiction comedy about two people who stumble upon a device that could destroy the universe and the forces that hunt them to insure that will not happen. As a drama, this is a compelling plot. As a comedy, it has the elements to be very funny.

The problem is in the execution. What might have been an excellent situation for a farce or satire or even a referential comedy quickly becomes a stoner movie. Lacking any of the intelligence in dialogue of a Kevin Smith movie - the average joke in Dude Where’s My Car? involves repetition - this simply becomes a stoner comedy about two slackers who try to be funny.

The other thing that works, though, in this movie, is the acting. Yup, the acting. Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott are utterly convincing as stoners who are clueless and out of control. Kutcher has the ability to make his face go slack with stupidity that no other young actor can master. Seann William Scott plays an adequate sidekick who seems just functional enough to perform his plot-dictated roles.

Sadly, this is a waste of the talents of Jennifer Garner and Marla Sokoloff, who are usually worth the price of admission for me. Garner and Sokoloff play the twins Wanda and Wilma and the final joke of the movie is insulting to these two professionals and the viewers alike. Strangely, two of the better names who appear in the movie are not even credited. Brent Spiner ("Data" on Star Trek The Next Generation) and Andy Dick appear midway through the movie for a scene.

There's not much to say about this movie. Minutes are spent with Jesse fighting with a speakerbox while ordering Chinese food. Similarly, a portion of time is spent with Jesse and Chester reading each other's tattooed backs and mistaking "Dude" and "Sweet" for terms of affection as opposed to what the tattoos say. And there's a requisite number of oral sex jokes and jokes based on secondary sex characteristics that could only be found amusing by high school dropouts and preteens.

What sinks Dude Where’s My Car? ultimately is that it's not funny. I was amused by the movie, but there was little to actually laugh at. I did find the movie refreshingly direct; the characters are witlessly looking for their car. If you want a movie smarter than that, this is certainly telling the viewer off the bat, it is not it.

For other science fiction comedies, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Men In Black 3
The Back To The Future Trilogy
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home


For other movie reviews, check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the films I have reviewed!

© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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