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  • Dude, Where’s My Car?

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on July 7th, 2003

    Overall
    Film
    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    (out of 5)

    To be completely fair, Dude, Where’s My Car? was neither the worst movie of last year, nor the worst movie of its kind during the year. Heck, at times, it even showed signs of comedic inspiration. However, before I seem too kind, Dude, Where’s My Car? is as dumb and crass as its title implies.

    Taking obvious cues from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure from years gone by, Danny Leiner’s Dude, Where’s My Car? follows in those same footsteps of the past in an almost slavish manne…. Here, we substitute Bill and Ted for Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott), who employ pretty much the same speech patterns and slack-jawed surprise in circumstances. It seems that the main reason for Dude, Where’s My Car? is to simply update the genre with two new brain-dead dweebs to chuckle at – however, it’s questionable whether these two stars will ever hit the heights that Keanu Reeves has.

    To be fair, the film is not entirely bad. There are actually some inspired moments scattered about that suggest this could have been far wittier if the moviemakers had worked at it just a bit more. However, that would go against the grain of this laid-back salute to loserdom and all things slack. Considering the intended audience for Dude, Where’s My Car?, it pretty much fulfills its quota of cheesy, obvious jokes and possesses a goofy charm that is difficult to deny, despite it’s essential stupidity. Teenagers have a desire to see youth reflected on screen, especially when the youth in question are both beautiful and stupid. Stupid is as stupid does I guess, as the film aims low and hits its target audience with mind-numbing regularity.

    The film follows the absurd adventures of Jesse and Chester, as they search for Jesse’s car, which has vanished following a night of heavy substance abuse of all kinds and a bit of partying. Of course, the duo remembers nothing. The search is made increasingly more difficult by a sequence of events that sees the stooges being chased by competing aliens, a quest to save the universe (Huh?!?), the demands of an imposing transvestite (Teressa Tunney) to return a suitcase containing $200,000 and an effort to stave off rejection from their girlfriends, twins Wilma (Marla Sokoloff) and Wanda (Jennifer Garner). All in under 90-minutes of running time. (I hope that last statement clues you in to the fact that some plot cohesion falls by the wayside – a small casualty of time.) In a nutshell, the film just follows the boys as they stagger from one outlandish situation to the next. What else do you need to know?

    Audio

    While the video transfer was top-notch, the audio transfer didn’t quite get the same treatment. While the audio transfer wasn’t bad, it just couldn’t compare with what the video received. Fox gives Dude, Where’s My Car? a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, along with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix. Also included on the DVD are English and Spanish subtitles.

    The audio overall is very positive with some strong response in places. However, the most impressive display of home theater authoring is during the opening credits, where the cast member’s names come flying into view from all directions – and the track handles it quite nicely. The film pretty much follows the “comedy-genre-standard-mix”, as the film is mainly dialogue driven and hangs around the front channels exclusively. Effects, while realistic, are limited to crowd noise in clubs, passing cars, and other, very unimpressive feats. Panning is realistic, but limited, as the front channels do a real nice job of relaying movement on the screen. Rear surrounds only work to add simple ambient effects to the track and help accentuate the really fun soundtrack that accompanies the film.

    Speaking of the soundtrack, it was really the one area that really pushed the system. There was some very nice imaging with all of your surrounds getting a piece of the action. It was a very warm and bold mix that also provided some very nice and dynamic low-ends. Dialogue for Dude, Where’s My Car? was serviceable and was really the only “problem area” I found on the transfer.

    The only issues I had with the audio transfer, which is very rare for such a new film, was a bit of distortion and edginess found in some of the dialogue. It’s not bad enough to make the dialogue unintelligible, it’s simply noticeable and that’s not a good thing for a film so recent.

    Overall, the audio was well balanced and nicely mixed, with the only problem area being noted above. Fox breaks away from their recent trend of putting a DTS track on the DVD to compliment the Dolby Digital 5.1 option, but that’s just fine for a film in this genre. Not a bad job here from Fox, but not a memorable one either. What we are left with is simply an above-average effort from a studio that has been the standard bearer of late. The audio was generally good and pretty much matched the material.

    Video

    Surprisingly enough, Dude, Where’s My Car? from Fox gets a near reference-quality transfer. Fox gives the film an anamorphic widescreen treatment in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. How in the world a film like this can come away with a pristine transfer while other, much more relevant films get crap jobs, is beyond me. I know that this is a newer film and it should look good – most do. Notice however I said MOST. I have seen many newer films that hit in the 3.5 – 4.0 range that would rate a more “blockbuster” status than Dude. Maybe the master print was pristine, or maybe they caught the guys at the DVD authoring studio in a good mood, I don’t know. All I know is Dude, Where’s My Car? looks much, much better than it deserves.

    The picture is as sharp as a knife and totally maintains great detail throughout. It is consistently sharp, with absolutely no evidence of softness anywhere during the film. The color palette is very bold and vibrant and the DVD translates this perfectly. Everything is beautifully rendered and perfectly saturated, with no bleeding or over-saturation noticed. Fleshtones were always accurate and black levels added great dimensionality to the picture. Dude, Where’s My Car? was just a couple of flaws short of being perfect and must be seen to be believed.

    The problems with the film centered around some graininess in a couple of areas, as well as a few flakes and flecks that made their way into the transfer and that’s about it. The print was as good as I have seen in some time and Fox gets a high marks from me on this one. Dude, this transfer is totally shibby and sweet …

    Special Features

    Under the section “Shibby Features” (Teen slang – get it?), we can find the discs extras.

    First up on the disc is the commentary from director Danny Leiner and actors Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott. It is actually pretty funny and totally amusing to say the least. The trio sits down, drinks beer and scotch (yea scotch!), gets drunk, and pretty much tell stories about random stuff dealing with the movie and never really get into the meat of the film. This is all fine and good however, as there isn’t much meat in the film to begin with. It’s very funny though and well worth the time investment – even more so than the film. (And if you’re wondering – YES, it is much more funny if you’re drunk yourself.) It’s unfocused, crude, and ultimately very fun to listen to. Since extra materials aren’t rated, parents need to be warned that their kids will pick up some interesting words and concepts if you let them listen to this one unattended. While the movie may be PG-13, the commentary is definitely an R – but definitely worth a listen. Where the film rates a 1.5, the commentary is 5.0 easy … it is worth whatever you might pay for the DVD … believe me. It’s a million times better than the film, as these three play off of each other wonderfully. One of the most fun commentaries I have ever heard – I laughed more listening to this than I have in a loooooong time.

    There is also a Featurette for Dude, Where’s My Car? that lasts for less than 5-minutes. Woo Hoo! It interviews the two principals and pretty much gives the whole “plot” away. We also go behind-the-scenes with the “hilarious” Dude-Cam where Kutcher says, “All I want is for people to think that this movie’s funny. I want them to laugh – and laugh so hard that they’ll cry”. (Well, I’m laughing … and crying … but it’s not for the reasons you’d hoped. I have just lost a Saturday afternoon from my dwindling life that I’ll never, ever be able to get it back. Thanks guys!) For those of you actually interested in this 5-minutes of drivel, if you don’t want this fine film spoiled for you, watch it after the feature.

    Extended Scenes contains seven selections to choose from and includes: “Jackyl Smokes”, “Pleasure and Patty”, “Squeeze”, “Wasted”, “Extended Shack”, “Loser”, and “Spit or Swallow”. All are presented in widescreen and are no more interesting than what ran in the film. Pretty weak if you ask me.

    Next up is the ”Stoopid Ass” Music Video from Grand Theft Auto. Actually a pretty catchy song that is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a widescreen transfer given to the video.

    Last up is Trailers and TV Spots which contains 3 television spots (“Pudding”, “Wild One”, and “Wildest and Then”), the theatrical trailer, and a music promo spot for the soundtrack.

    Fox provides some decent extras here to supplement the viewing experience of Dude, Where’s My Car?. Not even close to spectacular, the extras will provide you with some decent info – plus, you get to hear some guys get drunk and talk about this “stoopid” film. That’s worth the price of admission any day in my book!

    Parting Thoughts

    As with many films of this nature, there are lots and lots of jokes crammed into the short running time – and like many films of this genre, many fall continually flat. If a gag works, and a few do, Dude, Where’s My Car? repeats it until it’s just not funny anymore. Unfortunately, the film does the same with the gags that don’t work.

    The script, by Philip Stark, who also writes for “That 70’s Show”, suffers from its inability to know when to stop. The performances are cartoonish and overplayed and that works fine for the simple fact that within the context of this film, stereotypes and excess are the very things that teenagers who see this film will enjoy. The script does have some genuinely funny moments that will force a laugh from your belly, but they’re just too few and far between.

    Dude, Where’s My Car? caters carefully to teens of both sexes – young girls who like the looks of the young male leads and teen boys who can never get enough of sexually-charged jokes and the plethora of tits that are scantily clad throughout the film. All that’s enough to distract them from any other problems with the film. Look, the title should fill you in on the type of ride you signed up for – it’s lame, teen, gross-out humor and nothing more. That being said, Dude, Where’s My Car? is an amiable, occasionally amusing film that targets and scores with its intended audience. I confess a fondness for Bill and Ted years ago and this is nothing more than a re-tooling of the characters, with an early 21st century spin.

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that the moviemakers behind Dude, Where’s My Car? underestimated the American movie-viewing public’s taste for all things moronic. The $13-million dollar film more than made its money back during its first week in the theaters and will become quite a nice money-maker for the studio. Who’s stupid now dude?

    Do you really need to be told whether or not you’ll want this DVD? If you are a fan of American Pie, Road Trip, or even “That 70’s Show”, you probably already have this one site unseen. All others know to be cautious. Fox has done a good job with the DVD on all sides, although I think the asking price may be a bit too high. However for rabid fans of over-the-top, crude teen comedies, mom and dad’s credit card won’t know the difference. A great DVD presentation for an otherwise below average comedy. If you missed the film during the theatrical run, a rental is in order, as I wouldn’t recommend a purchase site unseen if you’re on the fence about the film.

    Special Features List

    • Commentary
    • Featurette
    • Extended Scenes
    • Music Video
    • Trailers and TV Spots
    Posted In: 1.85:1 Widescreen, Comedy, Disc Reviews, Dolby Digital 2.0 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), DVD, Fox

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