Sex Drive
At Quality 16 and Showcase
Summit

Courtesy of Summit

2 out 5 stars

In 2007, psychologists Cindy Meston and David Buss catalogued the 237 top reasons people have sex. While answers seemed pretty straight-forward — the number one reason for both men and women was “I was attracted to the person” — one surprising find was that men, not women, were more likely to view sex as a way to gain status. Perhaps this is the reason behind the film industry’s fixation on a certain theme: losing your virginity.

Hollywood’s stereotypical virgin is slightly dweebish, usually kind-hearted and almost always a teenage guy. His mission? Lose the virginity before the start of college or forever be the outcast.

When contrasted with other coming-of-age films centered on female characters, it’s not hard to see a discrepancy in ideals. It’s not that girls are without carnal desires. However, for characters such as Juno MacGuff in “Juno” or Stacy in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” sex is the catalyst for the real story in which the character realizes it’s not just becoming sexually active that defines adulthood, it’s also being able to deal with what happens afterward. In comparison, for male characters going through the same sort of bodily changes, the act of sex is — for lack of a better word — the climax, the total, and absolute, sign that manhood has come.

That is, at least, the view of Ian (Josh Zuckerman, TV’s “Kyle XY”), the sad little virgin of “Sex Drive.” Frustrated by his older brother Rex’s (James Marsden, “27 Dresses”) torments and eclipsed in sexual experience by his 14-year-old younger brother, Ian simply must get laid. Enter “Ms. Tasty” (Katrina Bowden, TV’s “30 Rock”), an almost too-good-to-be-true hottie that Ian meets on the Internet. With dreams of oral sex running through his head, Ian sets off with his best friends Felicia (Amanda Crew, “Final Destination 3”) and Lance (Clark Duke, TV’s “Greek”) to meet Ms. Tasty halfway across the country.

Needless to say, for a film practically begging to be compared to its predecessors, such as “American Pie,” “Sex Drive” is full of flesh, alcohol and stupid gay jokes. Any attempt to shock is pretty much for naught since it’s all been done before.

Even the cameos seem outdated. The film features Seth Green as a sarcastic Amish guy — because what’s funnier than not using electricity? — but the dude hasn’t been culturally relevant since the last “Austin Powers” film in 2002. Even more shameful, “Sex Drive” features the band Fall Out Boy — whose last hit was almost two years ago — in a sad and ineffective attempt to up the cool factor.

While the actors who play the three main characters are talented enough, the characters themselves are all quite flat. Inexplicable ladies’ man Lance spends his time hooking up with random chicks and giving Ian bad advice. As Felicia, Crew mainly functions as a somewhat-pretty face that spouts one-liners that encourage loving yourself or letting go.

In the end, “Sex Drive” is just another coming-of-age story that comes up a little short. While audiences will probably come to the film expecting gross-out gags and gratuitous swearing, is it too much to want some sort of character development as well?

It’s too bad that the one character who really should grow the most, Ian, ends the film in pretty much the exact same position he began it. Sure, he gets the girl — three guesses whether it’s Ms. Tasty or Felicia — and he gets laid, but he doesn’t grow up. Perhaps in an industry where physical acts have come to symbolize emotion development, it’s all we can expect.

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