Dude, Where’s My Car?

Movie Information

Genre: Comedy
Director: Danny Leiner
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Sean Williams Scott, Kristy Swanson
Rated: PG-13

Anyone paying good money to see a movie called Dude, Where’s My Car? deserves what they get. The obvious idea of the film is to propel That ’70s Show TV star Ashton Kutcher to big-screen stardom. The obvious result is a stupefyingly lame comedy that subtracts from the sum total of human knowledge every time its star opens his mouth. It is, of course, unarguable that the film is aimed squarely at a target audience for whom wet-T-shirt contests qualify as one of the fine arts. Unfortunately, it fails even on this level — if the predominately silent, largely under-20 audience with whom I suffered through this witless assemblage is any indication. (Overheard upon exiting the theater was the understandable remark passed by one young woman to her date: “This is the last time I’m letting you choose the movie.”) Anyone expecting even the kind of surface cleverness and savvy frame of reference that made the “Bill and Ted” movies at least palatable to those of us too old to really identify with the characters will be let down by the completely sophomoric Dude, Where’s My Car?. The film’s ideas of what’s clever amount to a patently unreal animatronic dope-smoking dog, ostriches that are smarter than the main characters, and an utterly juvenile mammary fixation one usually associates with 14-year-old boys. The plot is summed up in the title: Jesse (Kutcher) and Chester (Sean Williams Scott) wake up to find Jesse’s car is missing. Alas, the two were so wasted the previous night (possibly no film of recent memory has so winkingly glorified — or at least made into something “cute” — substance abuse) that they have no idea what they did or where the car might be. There really is no more plot than this. It is extended only by virtue of grafting a series of absurd situations with sub-“Bill and Ted” sci-fi underpinnings onto this premise. The whole film is tarted up by former TV and indie-film director Danny Leiner, with flashy scene transitions that do little more than hint at the desperation of a filmmaker who realizes that he’s helming a comedy that just doesn’t work. The script by That ’70s Show’s Philip Stark is all over the map, and many of the gags are downright schizophrenic. A number of cheap, vaguely homophobic, slightly distasteful gags stand frame by frame against a truly strange bit of gender-bending humor in a sequence with Fabio (yep, that’s right) that has to be seen to be believed, if only because it’s so disconnected to the rest of the film. Even occasional clever touches — wigged-out cult nerds in jumpsuits made of bubble wrap, for example — are so overused that the movie wrestles any such moment to the floor and then breaks its arm. Admittedly, Ashton Kutcher is appealing, but he needs to learn that acting consists of something more than looking like a lost puppy. Even if you go to this movie expecting nothing, you’re likely to be disappointed.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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