Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 7, 2019)
When Dude, Whereís My Car? hit screens in December 2000, I thought it looked inane and would be nothing more than another stupid teen comedy. While some offerings in that genre can be entertaining - such as 1999ís American Pie - most are just as idiotic as one might expect.
I saw little reason to believe differently in the case of Dude, and the filmís reviews did nothing to change my opinion. With a gross of $46 million, the movie didnít exactly tear up the box office, but with a budget of only $13 million, that figured represented a nice profit. In any case, though the studio clearly made money on Dude, the film didnít attract a very substantial audience and it quickly faded from view.
So I still havenít been able to figure out why I chose to review this flick. Nonetheless, select it I did, and I must admit that I found Dude to offer a mildly pleasant surprise. I expected the worst, and while the film wasnít anything special, it seemed genial and watchable for the most part.
Dude follows the exploits of young stoners Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott) as they attempt to locate the titular missing vehicle. They quickly figure out that they got tremendously wasted during the prior night, and apparently they had the times of their lives - too bad they canít remember any of this.
As the film proceeds, Jesse and Chester slowly piece together the puzzles and figure out what happened during this night to end all nights. Their attempts are complicated by a cast of wacky characters, many of whom pester the buds to get possession of a mystical alien device. Somehow the boys got a hold of it, and its location may affect the future of the universe.
Itís a thin plot that exists only to put our protagonists in an ever-expanding series of wacky situations, but thatís not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, I think the story may have been a minor homage to that of 1984ís cult classic Repo Man, another film that mixed nutty comedy with a sci-fi subplot.
Repo maintained an uneasy balance between the two sides, and the same problem affects Dude. The movie tries so hard to promote the thriller aspects of the tale that the more normal comedic side occasionally takes a back seat.
Frankly, the movie starts to get tiresome at around the halfway point. Since it only runs for 83 minutes, thatís far too soon for the material to become tedious.
Not that the first half of the flick offers many comedic gems. Actually, Dudeís greatest weakness is also its biggest strength: itís a stupid movie, and folks who hate that kind of work will likely loathe it as well.
However, I think it seems charmingly dumb. The film pursues its inane course with such an earnest and good-natured tone that it becomes increasingly difficult to dislike it.
Much of the credit goes to our leads. Kutcher provides a genial and fairly likable presence. He makes Jesse fun but not sleazy, and he comes across as a moronic but pleasant guy.
Dude finally allowed Scott to play someone other than American Pieís Stifler, as Chesterís much more kind-hearted and naÔve. Scottís not a comedic revelation as Chester, but he provides a cute innocence and simple tone to the character that allow him to be likable.
Itís really the sincere attitudes displayed by our two protagonists that make Dude watchable. The characters arenít played as jerks, and though they smoke pot and dig strippers, they seem to actually be nice guys.
Theyíre just moronic and frivolous. Ultimately, their lack of sophistication allows us to like them, and even though theyíre clearly idiots, we donít look down on them in many ways.
Dude works best when it holds close to situational comedic scenes. Thatís why I didnít care for the sci-fi plot, as the movieís most enjoyable moments revolve around segments that take everyday events and make them silly.
Easily the filmís funniest bit takes place at a drive-through Chinese restaurant. I wonít discuss the gags, as I donít want to ruin the fun, and they wouldnít sound interesting in print anyway. Nonetheless, this piece delivers a nice segment that proves to be surprisingly entertaining.
Most of Dude, Whereís My Car? remains very hit or miss, and it mainly misses. The movie seems padded, even though it only lasts 83 minutes.
Despite a variety of flaws, I still think it provides a generally watchable experience. The movie lacks a slew of funny bits, but the earnest charm of its co-stars means that it stays mildly interesting throughout the film, and at times it becomes fairly entertaining. I generally liked the time I spent with Dude.