Okay, so 2008 wasn't exactly a stellar year for comedies. For that matter, neither was 2007, 2006, 2005 ... But 2009 has got off to a great start, with both this and Role Models hitting cinemas in the same week. And both films are a breath of fresh air on the oh-so-stale comedy scene.
Forget the silly, double-entendre title, Sex Drive is a laugh-out-loud, feelgood comedy that restores faith in a Hollywood that's become too dependent on sequels, remakes and TV ripoffs. No, it's not going to win any Oscars. But it will make you laugh out loud for just over an hour and a half, and you'll leave the cinema with a smile on your face and a spring in your step. The hero of the film is Ian (Zuckerman), that rarest of creatures – an 18-year-old virgin. He's met a girl online, and on the promise of a sure thing, makes plans to travel from Wisconsin to Tennessee to meet her so he pop his cherry. Accompanying him on his road trip are best buddy Lance (Duke) – who, although chubby and acne-ridden, has girls throwing themselves at him – and Felicia (Crew), who's been friends with Ian since they were in nappies. To get to Knoxville, Ian "borrows" the pride and joy of his homophobic brother, Rex (Marsden) – a perfectly restored 1969 Pontiac GTO. Without Rex's knowledge. Bad move.
So we have ourselves a road trip, but this one has more in common with American Pie than Road Trip. Our heroes have plenty of adventures along the way, from incurring the wrath of local hicks and trailer trash to encountering sex-starved Amish girls. And speaking of the Amish, the film is almost stolen by the always brilliant Seth Green playing an Amish mechanic with the best line in sarcasm I have seen on screen for a very long time. The rest of the cast of mainly unkowns are all pretty likable – Zuckerman is very reminiscent of Jason Biggs in the Pie films; Crew is perfect as the sexy, gorgeous girl who has no idea just how sexy and gorgeous she is; and Duke is pretty much a cross between Jonah Hill from Superbad and Masi Oka from Heroes. The big surprise, though, is Marsden as Rex – he's playing a role that you'd normally expect to go to Sean William Scott, and he revels in going completely over the top (in a good way, of course). There's tons of gags – most hitting the mark, very few falling flat – and an unusual amount of character development, which you normally don't see in this kind of film. The relationships between the main characters are genuine, which makes the laughs that much more enjoyable. Sex Drive is not entirely original, but it's fresh enough to be worth a trip to the cinema.