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Not A Sure Thing 

Sex Drive Updates Porky's For A New Generation

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I was wondering when the remorseless wheels of the remake mill were going to grind up The Sure Thing, Rob Reiner's well-remembered rutting-teen-comedy-with-a-brain starring John Cusack as the youth going cross-country to rendezvous with a sexy golden girl; would he or wouldn't he figure out that the demure brunette accompanying him was his soul mate instead? Well, the new Sex Drive claims a basis in some novel I'd never heard of, but otherwise seems awfully like that 1985 film, updated with an internet twist and scriptwriter's eyes gazed crotchward. Either there or, longingly, at those hot, throbbing, tumescent box-office returns for American Pie and similar flicks that raised the bar (or lowered it, as the case may be) for youth-market copulation-and-humiliation jokes, contrived to be talk of locker rooms everywhere come Monday morning after opening weekend.

And if you giggled that I used "come" and "opening" in the same sentence (and you're between 15 and 25 and need to move your lips to read this), then Sex Drive scores as lowbrow entertainment Ð opening with a pre-credit gag about slipping on sperm-soaked underpants, closing with a scrotum shot.

Setting is Chicago - there's a whole subgenre of Chicago-minors-running-wild comedies including Risky Business and Ferris Bueller's Day Off - where nice-guy Ian (Josh Zuckerman), a nebbish working a McJob at the mall food court, remains a love-starved virgin at the unspeakable age of 18. He's in this lamentable state, even though he chums around with cool chick Felicia (Amanda Crew) and portly roue Lance (Clark Duke, a born scene-stealer, playing a part that's like Spanky McFarland combined with Hugh Hefner). In online chatrooms, however, Ian sheds his unassertive, pushover mentality to pretend he's a jerk of a jock. In cyberspace, he flirts with a Tennessee-based hottie, who writes that if he drives down to meet her, she'll "go all the way."

Urged by Lance, Ian accepts the challenge (though the annoyingly inconsistent protag turned down a much more convenient deflowering from a blonde tart a few scenes earlier). Ian and Lance steal Ian's ill-tempered older brother's treasured 1969 GTO and set off for Knoxville with Felicia, a last-minute addition. We've already been tipped off that Felicia's secretly crazy about Ian and vice-versa, and the possibility that the online mystery whore is really a fake is raised repeatedly. So nothing to do but wait for the inevitable to play out on the highway, amidst gags about rednecks, Amish, vomit, homos, pedophiles, homo-pedophiles, a concert cameo by Fall Out Boy, and a few jokes stolen from Judd Apatow and the Farrelly brothers.

Some of Sex Drive is genuinely funny. There's a bit of creativity in the plot mechanics. Seth Green has an amusing supporting role, and I can't totally hate a movie that includes a Broken Heart Robot figure among its egregious product placements. But at this point, the road rules of these bastard children of Porky's are becoming painfully clear. Queer-bashing is fine, as long as gay lifestyles are wholeheartedly embraced by the closing credits. Do all the horndog dick-centric humor, but affirm True Love and commitment in the end so fervently that Sarah Palin would approve this message. And endanger a classic car. These apply double in Chicago, and that the Culkin boys are old enough to do Home Alone VI: Kevin's Bachelor Party does not comfort.

film@clevescene.com

More by Charles Cassady Jr.

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