Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dude, Where's My Car? - 2000

"Dude, Where's My Car?" - 2000
Dir. by Danny Leiner - 1 hr. 23 min.

Official Trailer

Let me be clear about one thing: I know that there's nothing I can say that would sway anyone from their opinion about a movie like this.  And I'm not going to pretend otherwise.  Either you already think that it's just plain stupid (which it is), or you laughed like a little girl being tickled while a unicorn peed a rainbow on you.  Nothing in-between, and that's entirely fair.

And seeing as how the critics have largely weighed in on the "stupid" side, I'm just here to offer a little balance.  Yes, it's stupid, but that's not really a dig on a comedy.  I mean, if you didn't take offense at the stupidity of "Dumb & Dumber" or "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" or "Meatballs" or "Up in Smoke" or Jerry Lewis' entire career, there's no reason to start getting bent out of shape starting with "Dude."  I understand if it's not really your cup of tea, but it's a valid, time-tested approach to comedy, and it's fairer to just admit that it really is you and not the movie that has a problem.  And if we're going to judge this film, it must be on whether it's funny within that realm of comedy, and not whether or not it's a talky, biting satire that you can pat yourself on the back for having watched.

It definitely is funny, and while I'll excuse you if you think that it's due to a bunch of seemingly random wacky occurances, that's not the reason.  "Dude, Where's My Car?" is not an episode of "Family Guy," where things come and go to no lasting effect, there is a consistent internal logic (and a narrative that unravels over the course of the film).  Things that don't make sense at the time are eventually explained, which might be why it held up a little better than I was expecting.  Also helping: Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott throw themselves into their roles as Jesse and Chester (respectively).  Sure, Kutcher's "That 70's Show" pedigree helped his credibility here, and I wouldn't hazard a guess as to whether the duo were method actors here, but they do a good job with what they've got.

My only gripe is that it seems like they weren't given all that they could have been.  A note on the IMDB page mentions that some of the language in the screenplay with the Hot Alien Chicks was toned down to get a PG-13 rating, and there may very well have been more material that fell into that same pitfall.  We have a movie with characters that are constantly referred to as stoners, but the only drug use in the entire movie is by a small dog who is pretty territorial about his pipe.  While that approach worked in the "Bill & Ted" movies (the behavior is telling enough, even without anything going on on-screen), it seems like a decision that wasn't motivated by making the best movie possible.  Having said that, none of the best "classic" scenes (the dude/sweet tattoo reveal, the "and then" drive-thru sequence being the kings) would have been improved by inclusion of such material, so it might be a moot point.

So yeah.  See it if you want, I don't care.  I liked it and laughed all the way through, and found it to hold up a little better than some of the other popular then-contemporary comedies (like the "American Pie" series, for instance).  I won't hold it against you if you don't like it you don't hold it against me that I did.

3 / 5 - NF Streaming

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