Thursday, March 11, 2010

Criminally under-rated/un-seen movies Ed. 1 - Sex Drive

Note: This movie can be found at any video store. If you've never seen this movie, watch the original theatrical cut. The director's cut has some fun moments, but isn't as good as the theatrical cut.

With She's Out of my League coming to theatres tomorrow, I thought I'd write my first edition of under-rated movies on a criminally under-rated raunchy teen comedy called Sex Drive. What's the connection, the same guys who wrote Sex Drive also wrote She's Out of My League. I am wishing though that they could have directed the movie as well as I actually think Sex Drive's greatness came from the direction rather than the screenplay.

Exhibit A: Here's the opening scene of Sex Drive. Yes, we've seen this type of thing done before in American Pie...but I really think this one is much funnier than American Pie 1 or 2's opening scene...correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall those scenes ending with a final punch line. Especially American Pie 2's opening scene doesn't fully deliver, because the element of unpredictability is not fully there. Now on this scene...Yes, some of the humor in this scene doesn't work, but the final punchline accompanied by the older brother's last line of dialogue is hilarious and kind of caught me by surprise.

Good set up at the beginning, the following 2 minutes is a good enough distraction to make you forget how the scene began, then BAM...well delivered punch line to end the scene.

The majority of raunchy teen comedies are bad. They often think that simply having lots of swearing and having jokes about sex, masturbation and semen is good enough. The directors of abominations such as Van Wilder (in my opinion, one of the worst teen comedies of all time), Eurotrip and American Wedding need to watch Sex Drive and take notes. It's interesting...none of the humor in this movie is that original. They don't do anything that hasn't been done, yet this movie really delivers some of the biggest laughs of any teen comedy. I'll pick the funniest moments of this movie over the funniest moments of Superbad. This movie is all about taking trashy, low brow humor, but doing it well. For one, low brow humor often depends on unpredictability. If you see the joke coming, it doesn't work...(I'm looking at you American Wedding! We all fucking knew Stiffler was going to eat the dog shit. That's why the joke didn't work!) Now observe Sex Drive. There is a jail scene where Felicia is confiding in the other prisoners. The camera tracks backwards for one of the funniest reveal shots I never would have seen coming.

It actually takes some skill to make jizz jokes actually work and not just gross (I'm looking at you again Van Wilder. Your dog semen joke was a pathetic attempt at getting a laugh). The movie knows how to play up awkwardness and it knows when to go over the top and make it work.

Here's an example. Watch this scene:

Now here...most amateur comedy directors would ended the joke with stepmom catching her stepson doing something embarrassing that's it. However, Sex Drive is better than that. The humor of this scene is the hilarious reaction of the stepmom.

Observe her reaction very carefully. She sees her stepson doing this, she doesn't know what to do, so she quickly runs back up the stairs to take the "I'll pretend that I didn't notice what you were doing" approach. Though as she runs back up the stairs, the son turns around to see his stepmom running up the stairs. She then walks back down the stairs, holding the food, with a phony, pasted on smile to her stepson. She hopes that he didn't notice her noticing his making love to a punching bag. Good fucking comedy, though it's better on DVD. On youtube it's a bit hard to see the look on her face.

I will not spoil the final appearance of stepmom which to me is the funniest part of the movie.

I should also mention that Seth Green makes an appearance playing an Hamish guy who helps out the protagonist along the way. For one, I've never seen such a funny Hamish character. All I can say is...NOBODY I've seen has delivered sarcasm in a funnier way than Seth Green in this movie. Here is a hilarious scene with Seth Green on youtube:

(Ignore the "Now you don't have to waste your money to see a 1 minute scene." She doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about)

In the midst of all the raunchy comedy, there actually lies a sensitively told love story between the protagonist and Felicia, a good friend of his who he has feelings for. However, he's stuck in the friendship zone with her. There is a lot of truth and honesty to this subplot that never comes off corny.

Yes, this humor is very low brow, very trashy, but delivered with intelligence. The humor has the guts to go all the way and never pulls its punches. This is truly one of the most under-rated teen comedies of the past decade. Perhaps a good double bill would be to watch this on DVD, then head to the theatre to watch She's Out of my League.

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