Starring relative unknown Josh Zuckerman in the lead role of Ian, Sex Drive was a question mark in terms of expectation. Could it really be the comedy saver of the fall? Or would it fall ill to the plague that has taken to other wannabe funny fall films? It was a true toss-up. But thankfully, after almost two hours of non-stop laughter, Josh Zuckerman and company proved that regardless of previous blunders, Sex Drive was not going to fall victim to stereotype.
Let us start with the cast, a full slate of relative unknowns with the minor exception of James Marsden and Seth Green, both of which play a minimal part in the film. To the common eye, the cast quickly declares a red flag of warning; one that shouts for distance as it lowers your expectations of the film and its ability to make you laugh. There is simply no one there to create confidence.
As mentioned before, Josh Zuckerman leads the group as Ian Lafferty, a desperate teen who is willing to do almost anything to lose his virginity. The kid simply can't catch a break in this game that we call life. At home, he is constantly picked on by his older brother Rex; while being romantically played by his fourteen year old younger brother. Throw in his discrediting job at the donut shop, and Ian lives the life that every teenage male dreads. But to an extent; it is this that makes the film so much fun. Seeing a guy go through the rigors of embarrassing hell is one thing, but to watch him do it over and over again is truly priceless. Ian's emotions are sincere as Josh is able to portray innocence and insecurity both of which provide for some classic awkward situations, but gives audience members a way to relate to his character.
However, even with the acceptable performance from Zuckerman, it is the combined work of Clark Duke and James Marsden that really gives the film it's much needed boost. Playing Ian's best friend and older brother respectively, the dynamic duo sprint fast out of the gate; producing countless moments of pure comedic genius as they divulge into their character, bringing them and their addicting personalities to life. From Duke's cocky walk and 'ladies' man' attitude to Marsden's constant downgrading talk of homosexuals, both men are a deadening force on screen as they play off one another's energy, utilizing it to their own benefit and bettering the film as a result.
In fact, the highlight of the film occurs whenever either of these two men grace the screen as their facial expressions and character interactions cause a rip of laugher to flood the theater. No matter what the situation or point in the story, both rising stars steal the show at every possible occasion, giving new life to an otherwise bland script and helping to lift the film from its destined spot amongst the year's middle class, leaping it ahead to a nice position among those of the elite.
While I often give the writers credit for great comedies, I feel that the same can't be done here. Though most funny films dwell on wit and slapstick humor that is written on a page, Sex Drive takes a different route as it relies more on its actors to interact and use improvisation to create stereotypes and incidents that not only make you laugh, but allow you to relate to what is going on within the film.
The final result is a pleasant surprise as the actors and the character they portray come together smoothly. And even with the occasional blunder or unneeded awkward/stupid moment arises, the film proves itself worthy, giving audiences a reason to laugh in the otherwise dull month of October.