Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000)

I still can’t believe how much fun I had with Dude, Where’s My Car?, a movie about stupid people who can’t remember what they did the previous night. However, we learn that it was something quite impressive. We meet our two leads, Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott), who manage to escape the travesty of a hangover, but have no recollection of the previous night. They’re also fascinated with Animal Planet.

There is a message on their answering machine, which is from their girlfriends, twins named Wilma and Wanda (Marla Sokoloff and Jennifer Garner). It’s their anniversary, and last night, our two leads trashed their girlfriends’ house, leaving them to clean it up. It’s okay though, they figure, because there are awesome presents in Jesse’s car. So they go outside to get to the care, but, like the title indicates, it isn’t there. The two ask each other questions like “Dude, Where’s My Car?” and “Where’s your car, dude?” over and over again. I didn’t think I’d find that funny, but I did.

The plot revolves around attempting to find the car, figure out just what took place the previous night, while also being pressured into finding other things, like a certain Continuum Transfunctioner that multiple groups claim they know the whereabouts of. Of course, they have no idea, but we’re told that such a device could destroy, or save, the universe. A night of binge drinking may end up having dire consequences for us all, and it’s up to two slackers to find the device and save us. Oh, and locating that car so they appease their girlfriends might be a good idea too.

The brunt of the jokes come from both the incompetence of our two lead characters, as well as the fact that they don’t remember anything about the previous night. There’s also a bunch of throwaway and running gags. Both of these styles end up working fairly well, even if the constant repetition of sentences does become tiresome by the time the film ends.

Here’s what we do know about the previous night: Jesse ended up having some “fun” with a girl named Christie (Kristy Swanson), time was spent at a strip club, they were given a briefcase containing hundreds of thousands of dollars, they might know where the Continuum Transfunctioner is — the device that everyone lusts over — and they got a hole-in-one on the eighteenth hole of a mini golf course. What a night!

If you figured out that this is a juvenile comedy, well, you’re not wrong. Those looking for intelligent jokes, or anything that will challenge you mentally, will have to look elsewhere. About the most intelligent thing that this movie has to say is that an ostrich can run at an average speed of 27 miles per hour. But even a quick research trip informs me that it’s actually 31 miles per hour, so perhaps the most intelligent thing truly said is “dude” or “sweet” or — actually, that’s about as large a vocabulary as anyone gets here.

I don’t usually like movies where the characters are as stupid as they come. Usually this means that the plot will be propelled by the stupidity, and that any real person would not have the plot drag on as long as it does. If there is a mystery to be solved, the average person would solve it early on, while the stupid person takes an entire movie, and it’s just frustrating to watch.

I was so happy to see that this isn’t often the case this time around. See, these people are stupid, charmingly so, but they only act that way when they’re interacting with other people. When all they’re doing is trying to find out where the car — or the Continuum Transfunctioner — is, they act fairly rational, taking realistic steps in order to find them. Because their stupidity is not propelling us forward, or holding us back, we’re able to have a lot of fun watching them act like morons.

The plot is very basic, and is more or less summed up in the title. But, Dude, Where’s My Car? does end up having a fun save-the-world mission tacked on, which I found a lot of fun. Everything gets tied in nicely, even a lot of jokes you initially assume are on-offs. Having everything get tied together at the end is always a good touch, especially with how much is introduced within the concise 83 minutes that it runs. And there is a lot, especially once the Continuum Transfunctioner gets introduced. I adore that name, by the way. It just sounds great!

Seann William Scott and Ashton Kutcher are charming in their lead roles. You can believe that they’re the kind of people who would get so wasted that they can’t remember anything about the previous night. You can also believe that they’re as stupid as their characters, so much so that you often wonder how much acting was involved. (Why yes, that was a cheap shot. How good of you to notice.) But that doesn’t matter, because they work in their roles, and are willing to take some risks in order to make us laugh.

Since I had fun for almost all of the time that Dude, Where’s My Car? was on-screen, I didn’t notice many problems. It definitely felt low-budget, although that ended up being part of the charm. Some of the jokes did fall flat, although I cannot recall them at this point. Nor can I remember much of the film, except that I was laughing quite a lot, and that is all that matters. It’s forgettable, but that just means you can enjoy it again when you decide it’s time to watch the adventures of Jesse and Chester.

In the end, I had a really good — surprisingly good, in fact — time with Dude, Where’s My Car?. Most of the jokes worked, and I ended up laughing out loud, instead of just giggling, a few times. Granted, it’s completely forgettable and the low-intelligence jokes will not impress some, but since the plot isn’t propelled by stupidity, but instead simply contains stupid, yet charming, people, I had a blast.

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