So, imagine my horror as I sat alone in the cavernous theater, trying to muster a chuckle or a titter. Ornery ostriches didn't do the trick. Neither did a transsexual stripper, a pot-smoking dog or an appearance by Fabio.
There is a place for movies like Dude, Where's My Car? -- National Lampoon's Animal House, Blazing Saddles, Tommy Boy, etc. When they work. And when that happens, I'm on a cinematic high for weeks. I still smile whenever I hear the phrase "double secret probation." In the case of the silly comedies that fail, it's like watching a guy slip on a banana peel. It might be funny the first time, but how about the fiftieth time?
Unfortunately, Dude has crates full of bananas, and it's ultimately doomed -- just like its two main characters, Jesse and Chester (Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott, respectively), doper roommates with a major problem. After a wild night of partying with Chester, Jesse can't find his car the next day. The two friends don't even have a clue as to what happened the night before.
The boys soon embark on a madcap adventure to find Jesse's car. In their odyssey, they gradually learn about last night's events, which included strippers, buff aliens, and tattoos. Jesse and Chester also discover that they are now responsible for the fate of the universe. Bummer.
I know a movie like Dude is geared for brainless laughs, but shouldn't some thought have been invested in making it? The movie survives solely on the aforementioned wacky antics, which turns Dude into a feat of endurance that would fatigue a marathon runner.
There's no break from the goofball proceedings. Screenwriter Philip Stark and director Danny Leiner don't give us a single character with any wit or subtlety. Watching Dude is like viewing a parade of the hackneyed characters of movies past. There are stoned morons, sympathetic girlfriends, bullying jocks, super-intense space nerds, and the soulful black pizza owner (from The Last Dragon, of course).
As for Jesse and Chester, they might be the first characters in movie history without a working cerebrum. It would have been funnier if these guys were smart, so they could sarcastically comment on their absurd situation. But Scott and Kutcher are given little more to do than say "shibby" and "sweet" in a frat-boy cadence... and then break things. And that's a shame, because I like both of these guys. Kutcher is a dopey highlight on the Fox sitcom That '70s Show, and Scott with his prankster grin was a big reason why American Pie was my favorite movie last year. In Dude, their scenes induce empathetic winces, instead of laughs.
I wish I could say something glowing about this mess, and I wish I had an idea of why people are seeing it. My guess is it's either an indication that 2000 was truly a terrible year for movies, or it could be a genuine sign of the apocalypse.
On DVD, Dude is just as incomprehensible -- as if some crazed editor had cut out every other scene, just for kicks. A commentary track with Leiner, Kutcher, and Scott starts out with them laughing their asses off, and pretty much goes on like that for the full 83 minutes of the film. Extended versions of scenes add little but extra potty humor to what's already in the movie -- which, I figure, is exactly what fans of the film are going to want more of.
Dude, there's your car.
Run time: 83 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th December 2000
Box Office USA: $45.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $73.2M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: 20th Century Fox, Alcon Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 18%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 45
IMDB: 5.5 / 10
Director: Danny Leiner
Screenwriter: Philip Stark
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