Dude, Where's My Car
directed by Danny Leiner
(20th Century Fox, 2000)

Jesse Montgomery III is a 20-something stoner who lives in a disheveled house and delivers pizza for a living. Chester Greenberg is a carbon copy of Montgomery, except his hair is blond, sort of, and he smiles more. Together they live a fairly uneventful life of delivering pies, watching Animal Planet and dating Wanda and Wilma, two 20-something girlfriends whose last name appears to be "the twins."

Until the fateful day, that is: the day they leave the house early one morning (or afternoon) only to discover they're without wheels.

Unable to recall what they did the night before -- except get very wasted and trash their girlfriends' house -- they decide to proceed with plan B, "a sense-memory-simulated perception-altered-consciousness memory retrieval."

So runs the storyline of Dude, Where's My Car, a film that generated little critical excitement on its first release but was bound to find an audience, and with good reason.

Dude, Where's My Car might never make it to the art houses in New York and Los Angeles, but it contains just about as much fun as you can squeeze into an 83-minute film.

It includes run-ins with a dope-smoking dog; a herd of attack ostriches; a pair of Arnold Schwarzenegger look-alike space aliens; a transsexual stripper and her boyfriend, Patty; a cult of sci-fi nerds in bubble-wrap jumpsuits seeking "the intergalactic path to outer space"; and a phalanx of Hot Chicks who are willing to trade favors for a mysterious and powerful "continuum transfunctioner" (which, they claim, is "as powerful as it is mysterious"). It also puts them in the middle of one of the strangest police interrogations ever filmed and a "break-dancing stripper emergency," and offers them the opportunity to save the universe.

That's a lot of action for two dudes in a single day.

As stoners, of course, Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott), take all these turns of events in stride, which makes Dude a kind of Dumb and Dumber (or Dude and Duder) on drugs. That opens up it to all kinds of drug humor, including the inevitable oblique conversation between guys whose synapses don't always fire in the right order:

"Who's 'Joe Potsmoker?'"

"Oh, that's my alter-ego."

"Wait, I thought that was MY alter-ego."

"No, you're 'Smokey McPott.'"

Where Dude comes up short, it comes up way short. Kutcher, who's best known as Michael on That '70s Show, is a TV actor at best, and not everything he does in Dude is his best. Even so, director Danny Leiner is all too willing to let his camera linger on him, long after it's apparent that he doesn't have much to do. Scott comes off a little better, but not much. And no one anywhere rises above the level of stereotype.

Still, a little peeling paint never stopped a car, and Dude is a runaway vehicle of the first order, the Blair Witch of B-comedies.

If you don't like one joke, hang in there; there'll be five more headed your way in the next 10 seconds. Those you won't want to miss.

[ by Miles O'Dometer ]
Rambles: 5 January 2002

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