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Sex Drive

Surprisingly Sweet-Natured Teen Sex Comedy

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

From Porkyís to American Pie, Euro Trip and Superbad, teen sex comedies have been successful thanks to a tried-and-true formula: geeky, undersexed protagonist, equally undersexed friends plus a lust-worthy but improbable object of desire equals ninety minutes of ridiculously raunchy humor and a reaffirmation of the monogamous status quo. The latest teen sex comedy, Sex Drive, co-written by Sean Anders (Never Been Thawed), unvaryingly follows the teen sex comedy template, but thanks to an appealing cast, humor that only crosses the offensiveness threshold once or twice, and a surprisingly compelling storyline, manages to be both consistently funny and entertaining.

A high-school senior months away from graduating, Ian (Josh Zuckerman), is desperate to lose his virginity before he goes to college. With no female prospects on the horizon, Ian spends his free time instant messaging a woman in Nashville, Tennessee who only identifies herself as Ms. Tasty (Katrina Bowden). With his two best friends, Felicia (Amanda Crew), who Ian not-so-secretly pines for, and Lance (Clark Duke), an improbable ladies man who counsels Ian on dating using sales metaphors, in tow, Ian decides his only alternative is to drive to Nashville, meet Ms. Tasty and lose his virginity, but he doesnít own a car. However Rex (James Marsden), Ianís virulently homophobic older brother, does -- a beautifully restored 1969 GTO. Of course, Rex wonít let Ian near his car.

Ian, Felicia, and Lance get lost on their way to Nashville, meet colorful locals, including Ezekiel (Seth Green), a profanity-prone member of an Amish community who knows more about the outside world than heís letting on, and a variety of Southern stereotypes, including a promiscuous Brandy (Andrea Anders), her redneck boyfriend, Bobby Jo (Dave Sheridan), a surly, pony-tailed hitchhiker, and an abstinence-promoting dance troupe. Along the way, Ian, Felicia, and Lance learn the true meaning of sex (i.e., itís meaningless without romantic attachment) and, inevitably move on to the rest of their (offscreen) lives. Of course, any lesson learned only comes through visual gags and verbal humor, much of it at the expense of the socially awkward, hapless hero.

Familiar characters and storyline aside, though, what really matters here is how funny Sex Drive is. Co-writer and director Sean Anders throws in every type of gag, from standard-issue pratfalls to gags involving bodily functions and fluids, along with enough verbal humor to keep comedy-hungry audiences (mostly) satisfied with Sex Drive as Ianís pursuit of his date with Ms. Tasty takes increasingly farcical plot turns (as they should). One of Andersí better gags involves Ian dressed as a donut store mascot. Much is also made of Lanceís improbable skills with the female gender.

None of that would matter, though, without an appealing, watchable cast. Luckily, Sex Drive has that in its cast. While Zuckerman, Crew, and Duke are appealing enough in the lead roles, itís James Marsden as Ianís bullying, homophobic brother, who steals every scene heís in. While most of Marsdenís roles have been dramatic so far, his talent for comedy isnít far off. In fact, he might be better suited for comedies, where he can bring better-than-average comic timing to a role than drama, where his performances have tended to lack energy and enthusiasm. Seth Green is also golden as the restless Ezekiel who enjoys nothing more than practicing his underused, underappreciated sarcasm skills with Ian, Felicia, and Lance.