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DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?

by: Michael Dequina

Review by James Berardinelli

Someone once said that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. Well, if I'd listened to that advice, I never would have become a film critic, and I certainly wouldn't be reviewing movies like Dude, Where's My Car? Actually, to state I don't have any positive comments about the film is untrue. Much to my acute embarrassment, I laughed about a half-dozen times during the 85 minute running length. But moments of effective humor are rare oases amidst a desert of painfully unfunny and sophomoric material. And, when so little comedy succeeds, even the bits that work start to seem like mirages.

There's no doubt that director Danny Leiner is trying to clone Dumb and Dumber for a younger crowd. (Even though I was not impressed by the Farrelly Brothers' first foray into mass market gross-out entertainment, it was more enjoyable - if only marginally - than this effort.) Along the way, he has made countless mistakes, two of which are fatal. In the first place, there's no Jim Carrey, and, in his absence, no one of equal energy level or comic aptitude to fill the vacuum. No insult to Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott, but these two couldn't carry a movie if it was strapped to their backs and weighed next-to-nothing (not a bad description of Dude, by the way). Secondly, Leiner, in a blatant attempt to get as many people into theaters as possible, whittled away at his R-rated subject matter until it achieved a PG-13 rating. As a result, not only is the final script of Dude lobotomized, but it has been emasculated as well. If those two things happed to a human being, he would be locked away in a quiet cell somewhere, not put on display in a multiplex for everyone to gawk at in stunned disbelief.

In brief, the story - to the extent that there is one - goes something like this... Jesse (Ashton Kutcher, of TV's "That '70s Show") and Chester (Seann William Scott) are twenty-ish stoners who wake up one morning and can't remember what happened the previous night. And what a night it was - according to eyewitnesses, they were waving around money like they had it to burn, managed to get the sexy Christie Boner (Kristy Swanson) to take her top off, bought donuts for the entire police force, spent some time in a strip bar with a transsexual, trashed their girlfriends' house, and lost Jesse's car. Now, Jesse and Chester have to find that car before they're captured by a group of cultists who are convinced that the two morons have a device that will provide them with the means to travel beyond the solar system. In case you haven't guessed by now, Dude, Where's My Car? gets its title from the fact that (1) the two main characters spend the entire movie looking for the car, and (2) their vocabulary is limited to two words: "dude" and "sweet" (and Sweet, Where's My Car? lacks the same ring).

Dude, Where's My Car? is a one-joke motion picture, and that one joke rapidly grows tiresome. The best attempts at humor along the way tend to be rip-offs of gags done by much better comedy teams. There's a bit lifted from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (although the bird whose air speed is in question is changed from a swallow to an ostrich). And the rhythm, if not the specifics, of an exchange between the main characters bears a strong resemblance to Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" routine. Of course, the movie also steals liberally from less classic sources, including the recent and raunchy American Pie and Road Trip (the two likely reasons that Dude exists in the first place, and both of which, incidentally, featured Scott). However, instead of adopting the take-no-prisoners attitude of those films, Dude turns sex into the kind of dirty little secret you hear whispered about in grade school boys' locker rooms. (Side note to parents: anyone who

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