As I walked into the theater Thursday night, charged with an eagerness that could only come from being able to watch a free movie, I couldn’t help feeling wary.
Although the trailer for “Sex Drive” had shown great promise for an hour or two of laugh-out-loud comedy, it also showed signs of being a predictable tale about a horny high school student with dreams of shedding his virginity.
However, continuing the wave of recent comedies about awkward teen love and lust like the mega hit “Superbad,” “Sex Drive” develops its own witty take on the desperate road to deflowering.
Based on Andy Behrens’ first novel “All the Way,” the film, directed by Sean Anders, follows Ian (Josh Zuckerman), an 18-year- old high school senior, as he journeys nine hours to rendezvous with Ms. Tasty, a girl he met online. The title of the book is appropriate to the plot, as Ms. Tasty promises to go “all the way” with Ian if he drives from Illinois to Knoxville to see her.
Ian is definitely not the most suave guy. His part-time job has him wandering the mall in a giant donut costume, resulting in frequently becoming the victim of pranks and insults.
He is under constant pressure to prove his manhood as his brother Rex (James Marsden) uses an impressive variety of daily phrases to question Ian’s masculinity. Marsden does an excellent job of portraying the ultimate jerk of an older brother, whose day is never complete until he has ruined yours.
Lance, Ian’s lady-loving confidant, is played by Clark Duke, who performs a 180 from his pious, confederate flag-wielding character Dale on the ABC teen comedy “Greek.” He convinces Ian to “borrow” Rex’s beautiful 1969 Pontiac GTO because the time is ripe for him to cast off his good boy image and finally live his life and go after what he wants.
Duke’s character is an example of the many strange casting decisions that work well for the film, as ladies find his nerdy, bespectacled look to be irresistible because of his extreme confidence.
However, what Ian wants becomes more apparent as Felicia, Ian’s best friend, invites herself along for the ride, not knowing its true destination, as Lance brings new meaning to the phrase “visiting grandma.”
Though Lance believes she is the ultimate cock blocker, Felicia is just highly protective of Ian’s innocence. Along their road of debauchery, the friends encounter many bizarre situations, owing mainly to Lance’s lust and Ian’s newfound hedonism.
One of the highlights of the film comes with the introduction of Seth Green’s character at his sarcastic prime as Ezekiel, the worldly Amish Samaritan who helps the teens several times along the way.
Although the movie lacks strong dialogue, the humor makes up for it with a charming balance of perversion, sarcasm and wit. As the film climaxes to its hilariously dramatic end, deeper themes are revealed beneath the humor, as Ian is forced to decide whether it is more important to finally lose his virginity to a hot girl, his initial goal, or wait for meaningful, uncertain love.
This movie questions the adolescent rush towards premature maturity with an unpredictable ending that saves the movie from becoming overly sentimental. By the time the credits roll, the audience has received a satisfying mix of humor and sensitivity guaranteed to spark a smile the next time you visit your grandma.
“Sex Drive” will be released in theaters nationwide on Oct. 17.