Ian (Josh Zuckerman, "Austin Powers in Goldmember," "Feast") is an 18 year-old-virgin with an unrequited crush on his best friend Felicia (Amanda Crew, "Final Destination 3"). With a little photo-shopping and a claim on older brother Rex's (James Marsden, "X-Men," "Hairspray," "Enchanted") classic GTO, Ian gets a Tennessee girl who dubs herself Ms. Tasty (Katrina Bowden, TV's "30 Rock") to promise to go all the way if he'll come to Knoxville. Ian and buddy Lance (Clark Duke) steal Rex's car, and with Felicia along under false pretenses, hit the road to give a spin to Ian's "Sex Drive"
Cowriter (With John Morris)/director Sean Anders tries for the Judd Apatow brand of grossout humor mixed with sweetness and almost achieves it, but his over reliance on retreaded jokes and homophobic banter keeps "Sex Drive" from going the distance. The film should prove a calling card for its three relative inexperienced leads who get solid support from the better known Marsden and Green.
Ian's so pathetic his coworker at a mall donut outlet, Becca (Allison Weissman), prefers his fourteen year-old brother Dylan (Cole Petersen). Tasked with handing out coupons as a giant Mexican donut, he's made a target by pranksters who affix a dildo to his nether regions. Friend Lance, who has shaped his overweight, eyeglass wearing self into coolness, gets Ian to a party where he tries to take his friendship with Felicia to the next level but instead promises to help her get away from her creepy visiting cousin for the weekend. That's all but forgotten when Lance gives Ian the confidence to make a go for Ms. Tasty, so when Felicia shows up just before they leave, she becomes unwanted baggage. When Rex discovers his GTO is missing he goes ballistic.
On the road the threesome have adventures with a weird hitchhiker, a randy gas station clerk and her jealous boyfriend, an abstinence group at a country fair and, when the GTO breaks down, Ezekiel (Seth Green, "Austin Powers in Goldmember," "The Italian Job"), a sarcastic Amish dude with a talent for mechanics. By the time they get to Knoxville, they're two days late, in over their heads and have Rex on their tail.
Of course, it will be no surprise that Ian ends up with the girl he really loves after several obstacles and romantic gestures have passed their way. But despite the expected ending, it is clear that Anders has tried to make his road trip more than conventional. The Amish side trip, which occurs as the Amish teens celebrate the passage rite of Rumspringa, is unusual and Green works Ezekiel and his passive aggressive guilt trips well. A sneaker tree becomes the grounds for expressing true love and a Knoxville motel is amusingly fitted out as a theme motel. Background characters Andy (Charles McDermott, "Frozen River") and Randy (Mark L. Young, "The Lucky Ones"), fearless if unsuccessful practitioners of the pickup line, add flavor. If only Anders had eased up on the ick factor - a second rate steal of "Something About Mary's" sperm joke is unconvincing and there are way too many bodily fluids spewing about. Rex's constant gay-baiting of Ian is also overdone and not alleviated by the character's late revelation.
"Sex Drive," which follows the same road as Rob Reiner's far superior "The Sure Thing," is brought low by too much emphasis on crude humor. It's an annoying failure because Anders was clearly capable of aiming higher.
Robin did not see this film.
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