Dude, Where's My Car?

on December 15, 2000 by Paul Clinton
   "Dude, Where's My Car?" takes two adolescent stoners on a would-be "excellent" adventure in which they find a suitcase full of money, a cult of UFO nerds, a transsexual stripper and a device known as the Continuum Transfunctioner.

   After a night of hard partying, Jesse (Ashton Kutcher of TV's "That '70s Show") and Chester ("American Pie's" Seann William Scott) scratch their heads as they stare at the lifetime supply of pudding packed into the fridge and cupboards of their house, the acquisition of which they have no recollection. The two then embark on a trek to retrace their blacked-out steps from the previous evening and locate their missing car.

   Relying on dopey slapstick much more so than its occasionally decent situational comedy, the movie evaporates not long after the credits roll. Instead of a plot, writer Philip Stark opts for sex-oriented farce. Entering into the minds of two teenage guys, Stark mines the sexual fantasies and nightmares of Jesse and Chester for laughs, no matter how cheap. Stark hits the mark on some of the throwaway material, such as the scene at a Chinese drive-through, a rap video parody and cult members who wear bubble-wrap space suits. But Stark and director Danny Leiner, who have both worked almost exclusively in television, are lost in the longer format. The movie lacks exposition, playing like a 30-minute idea stretched to the breaking point, slapped together with jarring editing, cheapo production values and filler scenes.

   But the behind-the-camera crew gets a lot of help from Kutcher and Scott, who bring charm and vulnerability to their slacker roles. Here, Kutcher is an eyelash smarter than Kelso, a Butthead to Scott's twitchy Beavis. Even as the two take turns reading each other's scapula-spanning tattoos ("Dude" and "Sweet," their most frequent exclamations) and failing to communicate in a Bill and Ted-type take on Abbott and Costello's classic "Who's On First" routine, one realizes that while dumb-guy comedy can be funny, it can also be just plain dumb. Starring Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Kristy Swanson and Marla Sokoloff. Directed by Danny Leiner. Written by Philip Stark. Produced by Broderick Johnson, Andrew Kusove, Gil Netter and Wayne Allen Rice. A Fox release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language and some sex and drug-related humor. Running time: 83 min

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