Virginity, like food poisoning, is funny to you only after you get rid of it. Until then, it can be hysterical to everyone else. Such is the lot of Ian (a likeable Josh Zuckerman), the protagonist/wanker at the center of “Sex Drive,” a dippy and guilty gut-buster you shouldn’t see with any-one you don’t want to see you laughing at pratfalls and fellatio jokes. Because you will. It’s OK. Succumb.
Actually it’s nowhere near the basest teen sex romp flick you’ve seen. “Sex Drive” definitely does have a couple of groaners — you have to love a film whose target audience of giggly 15-year-olds will need a parent’s permission, de jure, to slip past the R-rating — but it has more heart than, say, the “American Pie” series. We have the reign of Judd Apatow in this genre to thank for making it safe for goofball romantic comedies to star convincing losers.
Slight, pale and unsteady, an accused “queer” by his GTO-driving older brother, Ian is a high school senior whose most titillating female contact is a hug from a colleague at the mall Señor Donuts to manipulate him into wearing a giant donut costume for coupon-distribution duties. When a babe he’s been chatting up online invites him to drive from the Chicago burbs to Knoxville, Tenn., for a weekend of blind Internet date nookie, his relentlessly suave best buddy, the cherub-cheeked Lance (Glenwood native Clark Duke, of “Clark and Michael” web videos), goads him into pinching his brother’s car for the commute. Piling in at the last minute is Felicia (Amanda Crew), Ian’s platonic crush who is herself taken with Lance. The boys tell her they’re going to see Ian’s cancer-stricken grandma. And off they go.
As you calculate the furthest you’ve driven for a booty call, daft hijinks ensue. Newbie director Sean Anders, who also shares a screen-writing credit, managed to find actors who really do seem like old friends at times. The chemistry owes to clever cuts and a buoyant soundtrack, as well as something so old fashioned as strong writing (the script is based on Andy Behrens’ book “All the Way.”) The dialogue is relentless, and the set-ups, hilarious. Alas, the laughs peak early with a naked Lance, handcuffed to a brass headboard, trying to outrun a pick-up truck through a cornfield. (And that’s saying something, because Seth Green soon arrives as a sarcastic Amish gearhead.) The latter half of the movie barely can keep pace, even with the occasional prison rape zinger to keep things light.
If the movie does have anything to say — and that’s debatable — it’s about the old “When Harry Met Sally” saw that men and women can’t be friends. Ian and Felicia’s bff footsie has to go somewhere, especially after the Tennessee vixen isn’t what she seemed (duh). It may be desper-ate and a tad incestuous to hook up with a childhood friend, but nice guys don’t care about finishing last, just so long as they, too, finish.