Sex Drive is pretty good as teen sex comedies go. It's funny, it's lewd, and it's actually kind of creative. Not that innovativeness is important to the genre -- you don't see a movie about a teenage boy's quest to get laid because you're looking for progressive art. But Sex Drive goes for the extra credit points: it throws in way more than the required number of crazy, random bits per minute, and includes a huge variety of weird and unexpected material in the pursuit of making you laugh. It's like a mile-long smorgasbord full of jokes about improbable sexual positions and passive-aggressive Amish people.
The film gets going as three friends set out on a road trip from Chicago to Knoxville -- a trip that the boys know is for the purpose of meeting a willing sexual partner whom one of them found on the Internet, and the girl (who, despite the eyeliner and Chuck Taylors, we must assume has more delicate sensibilities) thinks is a pilgrimage to somebody's sick grandma. Those three friends represent the typical Teen-Comedy Triumvirate: there's the timid Nice Guy Ian (Josh Zuckerman), there's the "just friends" Gal-Pal Felicia (Amanda Crew), and then there's the bawdy (and chunky) Cocky Friend Lance (Clark Duke). As is often the case with this format, it's that last character who gets most of the laughs, providing a balance to the sensitive hero's nervous antics with a constant stream of pure, volatile, adolescent testosterone, manifested mostly through verbally creative variations on the single-minded message to his wingman to seal the deal. Duke really does kind of steal the show in most of his scenes, and while the script obviously gives the Cocky Friend more killer one-liners than the Nice Guy, fans of Duke's hilarious web series with Michael Cera (clarkandmichael.com) will recognize the Nerd King gravitas he brings to the role.
In the first of several small but helpful ways that Sex Drive deviates from the norm, the character of Lance isn't just the more aggressive and unscrupulous of the group, he's also an actual man-slut, successfully cramming pimpage into every encounter with every woman he meets. This is a welcome change from the standard format, where the Cocky Friend is all talk, and is actually an even bigger loser than the Nice Guy. Were this a movie from years gone by, Lance's chubby cheeks and horn-rimmed glasses would belie his inner Casanova, but in 2008, that deft combo of apathy and irony adds up to a serious pile of hipster cool. Speaking purely in terms of comedy, this mainly serves to contrast with Ian's big brother, Rex, played by James Marsden like one awesome episode of 'roid-rage. Marsden must have actually had a body-building, muscle-car enthusiast, *sshole brother of his own, because he nails that Was-the-Coolest-Guy-in-the-Class-of-'91 schtick perfectly.
Seth Green is another supporting scene-stealer, showing up about halfway through to play an Amish guy who ends up knowing how to fix the road trippers' broken-down Pontiac GTO Judge. But this subplot is a lot funnier when it becomes clear that the joke isn't about Mennonites knowing how cars work ('Cause they don't drive! Get it?!), it's about Green so effectively messing with everybody; his super-dry delivery makes it continually unclear whether he's extolling the selfless service of his people or being really, really sarcastic. The whole Amish storyline is pretty funny in and of itself, with a running theme about the village's kids being on "rumspringa," that infamous phase in adolescence when Amish youth can taste the excesses of modern life. Here, it amounts to spring break, with wasted girls in bonnets yelling "RUMSPRINGA!" before passing out. Like most of the movie, it's not groundbreaking satire, but you still probably haven't seen it before. Regardless, all that matters is whether it's funny -- and it is.