It may not matter to its target aud that “Sex Drive” is nothing more than a raunched-up, dumbed-down version of “The Sure Thing,” since most members of that demographic weren’t yet born when Rob Reiner’s 1985 coming-of-age comedy was released. But since the new pic contains little that’s genuinely amusing or minimally original, it likely will fail on its own merits (or lack thereof) as a youth-market magnet in theatrical release. An unrated director’s cut might perform slightly better as homevid fare.
Clumsily juggling gross-out gags, cartoonish physical humor and synthetic date-movie sentimentality, helmer Sean Anders offers a bumpy, boring journey in his strenuously unfunny road pic. Even the detours intended to generate big laughs instead underscore pic’s overall lack of inspiration.
The formulaic script — which Anders and producer John Morris adapted from the novel “All the Way” by Andy Behrens — intros 18-year-old Ian Lafferty (Josh Zuckerman) as a soft-spoken, sweet-natured dweeb who’s eager to relieve himself of his virginity.
Driven to desperate measures by the verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse of his horndog older brother, Rex (James Marsden), Ian needs only slight encouragement to “borrow” Rex’s prized vintage Pontiac GTO for a long-distance trip to … well, to a sure thing.
Accompanied by Lance (Clark Duke), a nerdy-looking but self-assured buddy who’s improbably successful as a ladies’ man, and Felicia (Amanda Crew), a longtime “best friend” with whom he’d like to be a lot friendlier, Ian sets out on a 500-mile trip from Chicago to Knoxville, Tenn., to meet a curvaceous hottie he found on the Internet. Along the way, a few side trips are taken and a few life lessons are learned. But the only roadside attractions of real interest involve a snarky Amish mechanic smoothly played with scene-stealing aplomb by Seth Green.
The moments of low comedy plummet very low indeed — in one scene, Lance barely escapes being defecated upon — while Rex’s incessant gay-bashing would be offensive if it weren’t so numbingly tedious. An “ironic” twist in pic’s final moments is clearly meant to humanize this grating character, but it doesn’t.
Also arriving too late: an utterly predictable romantic wrap-up that comes off as a shameless sop to young femme auds.
“Sex Drive” borrows indiscriminately from dozens of earlier, better youth-skewing comedies, but it leaves one yearning for the subtle wit and delicate nuances of, say, “Porky’s.”
Thesps are more or less left to their own devices, but only Green and (to a lesser degree) Duke distinguish themselves. Production values are unremarkable.