I know I sound like I'm getting older when I say this — which I am, I assure you, and yet no one wants to ever say that out loud — but I have to think that, at some point in the past 10 years, the teen sex comedy, as a genre, underwent a kind of inflation I can only compare to the arms race, as the payloads of comedic raunch they carried inflated and expanded in the name of overkill. In the post-American Pie teen sex comedy landscape, it felt like movies were knocking themselves out to be more risqué, more raw, more rude; the problem was that the people behind these crusades to become more crude often didn't bother to make their films more funny. If naked body parts, in and of themselves, were hilarious, then doctors would be in a state of constant hysteria; if humiliation equaled comedy, then the halls of every high school would ring with laughter. Neither of these things, however, are true. …
So it is a relief to find Sex Drive, a new-school teen sex comedy, is not only bolder and blunter than many of its peers but is also, thankfully, actually funnier — as our hero and his friends drive cross-country in pursuit of nooky, the film itself is in fact driven by character; as our heroes meet wacky supporting characters and get in uncomfortable situations, the characters they meet are actually funny and the situations they get into have something to do with the plot. No one is going to confuse Sex Drive with Citizen Kane, but for what it is — a smutty, silly, slapdash comedy — it manages more than a few laughs in between the naughty bits.
The plot of Sex Drive is a fairly classic one as these things go, which is the polite way of saying it's stolen from a number of other films — Ian (Josh Zuckerman) has been conducting a slightly dishonest internet romance with a girl he knows only as 'Ms. Tasty." Ian is not, in fact, on the football team, nor does he look like his muscle-bound photo, but when Ms. Tasty says she'd like to meet him, Ian inadvisably steals his meathead brother's prized car and goes cross-country with rumpled rogue Lance (Clarke Duke) and cute-but-unattainable best pal Felecia (Amanda Crew) in a minty-looking '69 Pontiac GTO. …
And you can pretty much predict every twist and turn in the plot from that; Ian's journey is pretty much the same as that taken by John Cusack in The Sure Thing, only with a lot more genital jokes. Lance, the shabby sex-crazed ladies' man, will find true love and hot sex. Felecia will have to come to terms with her feelings for Ian even as he's getting on the road in the name of getting on Ms. Tasty. And Ms. Tasty will, in fact, not be who she seems.
But, as Ian drives miles in the name of action, we too also find the voyage is about the journey and not the destination.
Zuckerman makes Ian awkward and fallible; Duke makes Lance magnetically repellent; Crew turns Amanda from a cliché into a nicely spun turn on what could have been a thankless role. With James Marsden as Ian's bullying, beefy brother and Seth Green as — bizarrely, hilariously — an Amish man with hidden capacities for automotive repair and sarcasm, there's more smarts in Sex Drive's supporting cast than there had to be, too, even if it's concealed behind breasts, body parts and potty talk. The welcome news is that Sex Drive has enough sweetness to cut the sauciness; you buy Ian, Lance and Felecia as real friends, and you get the since that Ian's more interested in fitting in than getting it on.
Director Sean Anders and his co-writer John Morris provide commentary on the DVD, and it's as rambling, random and rude as the film itself — ranging between discussions of the challenges of the shoot and foul-mouthed digressions, but they make it entertaining. Sex Drive isn't the high-water point of teen sex comedies — it's not as super-good as Superbad — but at least it has a movie under the over-the-top comedy.