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Dude, Where's My Car?

  dude where's my car?
Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott watch the "Dude" trailer and ask: What have we done?

İ 2000, 20th Century Fox
All Rights Reserved

I have a soft spot for goofy comedies. "Billy Madison" and "Tommy Boy" are tough to beat, in my book. (I have friends who trek annually to Sandusky, OH to pay homage to Tommy Callahan.) From classics like "The Jerk" to more recent flicks like "Road Trip," I enjoy a harmless tickle of the medulla oblongata from time to time.

So when I saw that the affable Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) from "That 70's Show" was teaming up with super-obnoxious Stifler (Seann William Scott) from "American Pie" in "Dude Where's My Car?" (IMDb listing), I figured another mindless good time in the theater would be had.

But the only thing "had" was me. And gone is any lingering hope that Hollywood cares about making movies that don't stink.

Want a plotline? The title says it all: Two stoners, Jesse (Kutcher) and Chester (Scott), can't remember where they went or what they did the night before--or where they parked their car. The rest of the movie is spent piecing together the previous night's debauchery, soothing the bruised egos and trashed domicile of their twin girlfriends Wanda and Wilma (cutie-pies Jennifer Garner and Marla Sokoloff, who should be thankful for their minimal screen time), and generally finding out why everyone in town is out to get them in a bad way.

As Jesse and Chester begin to reconstruct the last 24 hours, paper-thin subplots form out of thin air, gathering like stormclouds. How about a search for an obscure hunk of galaxial technology led by shape-shifting alien sexpots and a bubble-suit-clad doomsday cult led by "Talk Soup" alum Hal Sparks? (Nickelodeon fans, be sure to spot "Donkeylips" from "Salute Your Shorts!") Brent Spiner (Data in "Star Trek: The Next Generation") as--get this--a French ostrich farmer? Andy Dick has a briefly funny cameo as a deviant incarcerated trespasser on Spiner's farm. There's even a transsexual stripper who demands a suitcase of money, a wild tangent which instead of shocking is merely annoying. One of the film's lone amusing moments isnıt even part of the main storyline: itıs a cutaway scene of a pool party where the main characters dress up in cheesy hip-hop gear and shuffle to Young MC's "Bust A Move."

While a weak plotline is tolerable, shoddy, pointless characters are inexcusable. What's worse is how certain characters in this movie, intended to be random and funny, are merely rip-offs from contemporary comedic favorites. A startlingly-jovial black female service worker is a poor reconstruction of Billy Madison's house maid. The whole town itching to kick your ass? Go see "PCU" (and stay for the P-Funk concert!). Stoners overcoming adversity? A common theme, with pop-cult roots in "Revenge of the Nerds." There's even an interstellar ambiguously gay duo, impossibly reminiscent of Robert Smigel's snarky animated short from "Saturday Night Live."

As a last gasp at humor, the closing credits treat the audience with bloopers and outtakes from filming. This was a fitting finale; unlike "Ferris Bueller," the audience wasn't implored to go home. Perhaps the producers knew they already had our money and couldn't care less what we did afterwards. I wonder if they feel the same way about their Hollywood backers.

Someone recently asked me to name the worst movie I've seen in a theater this year. I had a hard time coming up with an answer, as I usually come away amused on some level from every film I see. But now I can say without a moment's hesitation: "Dude, Where's My Car?" is the worst movie I have ever seen in a theater. I'm not amused at all--I'm angry that I spent money to sit and watch this cinematic embarrassment. And I didn't even pay for my ticket, a friend did. Perhaps the lowest criticism I could possibly level would be calling this movie a waste of a handout.

Filmfodder Grade: F

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