“Dude, Where’s My Car?” is a triumph in filmmaking, a masterful blend of brilliant characterization, engaging storytelling, and pure human emotion.
Never have I seen such a penetrating examination of the intricate and fragile creation that is humanity, and never shall I see again the old shell of my psyche that was shattered and born anew upon viewing this elegant masterpiece.
In the story of two stoners named Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott) who awaken after a night of reveling with no memory of the events and no idea where Jesse’s car is, we are amused and intrigued. As their Yoda-like friend Nelson (David Herman) lets his dog smoke pot, we catch glimpses of insight into what it is that makes us human. As the stoners’ girlfriends (Jennifer Garner, Marla Sokoloff) are angry with them for having forgotten their anniversary, we are reminded of our own foibles. In the dudes’ constant use of the nonsense word “shibby,” we are reminded of all the times we have attempted to introduce new slang into the vernacular, hoping to become the next “whassup?” or “schwing!”
The film causes us to wonder: If your premise is this flimsy to begin with, why would you stretch credibility even further by having the forgotten night’s activities include extra-terrestrials? Why not keep it within the realm of reality? Why turn it into a big, ridiculous cartoon in which none of the jokes are funny, sex is referred to far too often, and Seann William Scott’s acting is beyond the pale? Why give the dudes’ boss at the pizza place the name of “Mr. Pizzacoli,” instead of a legitimate one? Why, indeed. Have these questions any answers?
To examine the film’s excellent pop-rock soundtrack, its amusing “Bust a Move” music video, and its funny-stupid sequence involving Fabio at a stoplight, we must examine our own souls. Are these the lone islands of quality in an otherwise tempestuous sea of mediocrity, idiocy and jackassery? The film asks us — nay, implores us — to look within ourselves.
Dude, where’s my car, indeed. Have all the philosophers in 6,000 years of human history asked a nobler question? Its answer is metaphorical of the answers to all of mankind’s queries. So much the better are we for having asked it.
D- (; )
In 2011, I reconsidered this movie for my "Re-Views" column at Film.com.