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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Review
Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)
2 Stars

Directed by Danny Leiner
Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Marla Sokoloff, Jennifer Garner, Kristy Swanson.
2000 – 90 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for violence, profanity, drug use, and sexual situations).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, December 16, 2000.

Sort of a teenage version of "Dumb and Dumber," "Dude, Where's My Car?" is such a bad movie that it exhibits a sort of innocent charm. From the very first frame, the movie doesn't have any illusions that it's anything more than a self-proclaimed stupid comedy. Instantly forgettable and lacking anything resembling honest human emotions, the first half is so bright and silly that it gets your expectations up far too much. Its surprising success right from the get-go hurts the final product more than helps it, as its jokes quickly grows tiresome and repetitive, until the movie becomes almost unbearable in its final thirty minutes.

Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott) are stoner best friends who wake up one morning to find that their car has disappeared. Not remembering anything from the drug-induced night before other than that their car holds their anniversary gifts for their girlfriends, Wilma (Marla Sokoloff) and Wanda (Jennifer Garner), Jesse and Chester set out to retrace their steps. With everyone they run into, another piece of the puzzle is filled in, from the advances of their voluptuous dream girl Christie Boner (Kristy Swanson), to their apparent visit to a strip club, to a case they had gotten hold of carrying thousands of dollars in cash, to a feuding group of alien hunters and actual extraterrestrial "chicks."

I've said it once already, and I'll say it again. "Dude, Where's My Car?" is so unabashedly dumb that you can't help but be a little impressed by its own throwaway trashiness. Aside from the tedious third act, the movie falls into the category of a guilty pleasure--the type of bad movie you can have fun with, rather than the type that is just plain awful ("Battlefield Earth" comes instantly to mind).

Ashton Kutcher (TV's "That 70's Shows") and Seann William Scott (2000's "Road Trip"), like Bill and Ted before them, make an instantly delightful duo of doofuses who have little on their minds, and are having a hell of a time in the process. Kutcher, especially, stands out as having quite an enjoyable presence, and it's not difficult to see him making more substantial motion pictures in the future. Since Jesse and Chester fill up every frame, they leave little room for anyone else. Marla Sokoloff (2000's "Whatever It Takes") and Jennifer Garner (TV's "Felicity") are briefly on hand as their respective girlfriends, while the unfortunate Kristy Swanson (1999's "Big Daddy") has clearly fallen on hard times by taking such a wasted role.

There are a couple comic sequences that work extremely well--far more than they have any right to. An encounter with a pushy, stubborn worker at a Chinese drive-thru, and a dog that does nothing but smoke pot and lie around, are admittedly a riot, as is an unpredictable kiss between the two male leads that rivals the on-screen smooch between Trey Parker and Matt Stone in 1998's infinitely superior "BASEketball." All of these setpieces, however, appear by the 40-minute mark, and it is followed by a comic dead zone in the increasingly preposterous climax.

"Dude, Where's My Car?" is terrible as a film, yet passable entertainment as a movie. 13-to-16-year-olds will likely have the most fun, and one's tolerance for strictly juvenile humor will decide what other age frame might enjoy such fodder. Credit director Danny Leiner and screenwriter Philip Stark for one thing: they realize "Dude, Where's My Car?" is akin to a piece of fecal matter, and have a great time living up to such a low honor.

©2000 by Dustin Putman

Dustin Putman