Dude, Where's My Car?

Directed by Danny Leiner
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Kristy Swanson, Jennifer Garner, Marla Sokoloff.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and some sex and drug-related humor.

Review by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>
December 16, 2000

Well, it's about time. It's been nearly sixteen months since I have given out the coveted "ZERO" rating. Even though this has been a lackluster year, only one film (Battlefield Earth) earned less than a star, but none reached the nadir of filmmaking -- until now. For some ungodly reason, Fox has put into wide release a film -- if you can call it that -- with nothing of value. It's supposed to be a comedy, but it's not funny. Not a single laugh. Not even a smile crossed my face, until I thought about writing this review. It's ripe for the picking (especially since it's not being reviewed by the mainstream media), it's unimaginably horrible, and it's called Dude, Where's My Car.

Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott star as Jesse and Chester, two stoners that wake up one morning without remembering a thing about the night before. Last thing they remember is planning to go to their girlfriends' house for a party. They receive a call from their disgruntled sweethearts, complaining about how their place was trashed. However, it's their anniversary, and they seem to remember getting them presents, but they were left in the trunk of Jesse's car. When they walk outside, it's gone, and Jesse says, "Dude, where's my car?"

Then Chester says, "Where's your car, dude?"

Then they repeat ad nauseam -- literally. I nearly tossed my popcorn at the endless repetition, but back to the story.

They try retracing their steps with whatever evidence they have, including a kitchen full of pudding and a matchbook from a strip club. They go to the club and run into a transsexual stripper who demands his/her suitcase back, and the $200,000 that it contained. Apparently, that was also in the car. Outside the club, they're hijacked by some alien-obsessed nerds who need to find the "continuum transfunctioner", which is also supposed to be in their possession. Then they are dropped off at a tailor shop, where they pick up some custom Adidas suits. While they are changing, they notice that they got tattoos on their backs.

Jesse's says "DUDE". Chester's says "SWEET". If you've seen the ads, you know where this is going. Again, we have an ad nauseam repeat of "Dude! What's mine say?" and "Sweet! What's mine say?" This is the height of the film's comedy.

As if this wasn't punishment enough, they also run into some self-proclaimed "hot chicks" who demand the continuum transfunctioner. Then they run into a pair of "Nordic dudes" who also ask for the device. It looks like our two friends got so wasted the night before, they endangered the future of the universe. And they bagged Kristy Swanson in the back seat of their now-missing car.

As I sat watching this, I wondered who wrote it. The credits say Philip Stark is responsible, who is apparently a story editor for "That 70's Show", which also stars Kutcher. He's never written a screenplay before, and I don't see him writing another one. Unless he grows up someday, because judging by this work, I would place him at about four years old.

Even the stupid kids I watched this film with were not impressed. One young lady in the sparsely-populated auditorium was commenting on the slide show before the film started. One slide was a spot for the "Math Is Power" campaign, and she says at the top of her voice, "I hate math!" I thought this was excusable, since kids generally don't love it. Then she saw a slide promoting The Emperor's New Groove. At this, she spouted out, "Ooh! I'm dying to see that." Of course, she could have just bought a ticket for that at the same multiplex, but she was one of the people who made a conscious, discriminatory choice to watch Dude, Where's My Car. I didn't even hear a chuckle from her throughout the show. If she could not be entertained, then who could be?

No one. Nobody with an ounce of intelligence could possibly enjoy this film. It's like Abbott and Costello without the sophisticated wit and subtlety. There's nothing funny about it, but I needed a better reason than that to give it no stars at all. It had to be offensive in some way. Now, a film about lovable, heroic stoners for teenagers is not the greatest idea, but it's not completely offensive. It was the final "joke" in the film that did it for me. After Jesse and Chester save the universe, they finally give their girlfriends (the now-regretful Jennifer Garner and Marla Sokoloff) their anniversary presents: some cute little bracelets. But wait! They found some more presents left behind by the Nordic dudes: a pair of necklaces. What happened when the girls put on the necklaces? Why, their breasts enlarged threefold.

This wasn't funny. It was sad, shallow, chauvinistic, and utterly offensive. It was the final straw that put this film over the top as the very worst of 2000. I doubt that anything worse could possibly come about in the next two weeks, so I'll make that claim now. Happy holidays, everybody.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Dude, Where's My Car (2000) -- VHS
Dude, Where's My Car (2000) -- DVD
Dude, Where's My Car?: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan