Conventional cinematic wisdom would say that 'Dude, Where's My Car?' is dumb. Really, really dumb. But if a movie knows it's dumb, how dumb can it really be? A fact, then, that renders 'Dude, Where's My Car?' virtually review-proof. Here is a film that's impossible to laugh at, because it's so self-aware that it already beats you to the punch.
The plot (as if it mattered): Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott star as Jesse Montgomery and Chester Greenburg, two perpetually-stoned party animals who make Bill & Ted look like Rhodes Scholars. After a particularly heavy night of drug-induced debauchery, the pair wake up dazed and confused -- and asking the burning question, "Dude, where's my car!?" The clues are minimal -- just a matchbook cover from a strip club and some pudding in the fridge. So the boys go on a mission to reconstruct the evening and rescue their precious automobile. The journey that will ensue, however, will be far crazier than even they could have imagined, involving an angry street gang, a suitcase of stolen money, alien-seeking nerds, and even a gun-toting transsexual stripper.
'Dude, Where's My Car?' mines two different cinematic traditions, the anything-goes juvenile comedy and the road movie. Though the "twist" here is that Kutcher and Scott don't actually drive anywhere (if only they could remember where they parked...), the series of madcap, road-weary misadventures they find themselves in could have come straight out of any number of '80s comedies like 'Into the Night,' 'Repo Man' or ''Earth Girls Are Easy.' 'Dude, Where's My Car?' is not as smart or original as any of those movies, but it is made in such a spirit of lighthearted, good-natured fun that I found it embarrassing how quickly I was able to go along for the ride.
What really elevates 'Dude, Where's My Car?' into guilty pleasure territory is that it has the gumption to go from merely silly to completely preposterous as the plot veers towards the fantastical. When the alien-seeking nerds lead to actual aliens (in human form, and wearing jump suits, no less) who are searching for a mystical device, 'Dude, Where's My Car?' further aligns itself with the 'Bill & Ted' movies and it's all the better for it. The humor doesn't just revel in dumb fart jokes or demeaning misogyny, but instead just goes full-on bat-shit crazy. At times incomprehensible -- just why is there a refrigerator full of pudding? -- but for me, that's what pushed into slightly unusual territory for this type of comedy. 'Dude, Where's My Car?' could have just toted out the same sex and drug jokes, but in its own very meager way, it at least tries to experiment with different tones and types of satire.
None of this is to say that 'Dude, Where's My Car?' is a good movie. It's truly dumb, and a time-waster at best. But thanks to the energetic Scott and Kutcher (the latter the least grating he's ever been in a movie), and a couple of amusing supporting turns (including a young Jennifer Garner, as a long-suffering girlfriend), it's a likable time-waster. I wish the film had tried to be even smarter and aimed just a little bit higher (it's no 'Repo Man,' which also mixed aimless slackers and aliens), but for what it is, it entertains.
Wow, Fox really went cheap with this one. 'Dude, Where's My Car?' on Blu-ray smacks of being one of the studio's early, MPEG-2 transfers that's been sitting on the shelf awaiting release. Indeed, this is a 1080p/MPEG-2 encode (1.85:1) spread over a BD-25 single-layer disc, with no real extra features to hog up the bits. It's a perfectly fine transfer, if nothing special.
Originally released in 2000, 'Dude, Where's My Car?' has held up pretty well. It's a bright, well-photographed film (if generic), and boasts a nice, appealing picture here. Colors are bold and sometimes a bit heavy, though fleshtones are accurate. There's little overt stylization, with nicely-balanced contrast and solid black levels. Detail isn't the greatest I've seen on a catalog title, but perfectly respectable. The transfer is also fairly sharp, though darker scenes suffer a tad with a flatter, softer look. Despite being an MPEG-2 encode, I noticed no overt artifacts, save for some sporadic noise and a bit of an edgy look on the most highly-contrasted areas. Given that 'Dude, Where's My Car?' is hardly a visual tour de force, this encode does the material justice.
Fox offers a DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround mix (48kHz/16-bit) for 'Dude, Where's My Car?' -- though it's not as if the film really needs it.
This mix is the equivalent of getting stoned -- kinda spacey at times, but generally a bit of a stupor. The surrounds only sporadically kick in, delivering a few discrete effects but otherwise reserved for very minor ambiance and score bleed. The front soundstage is nicely spread out, with clear dialogue (as if we needed to hear it) and decent kick to the subwoofer. The source is also clean and fairly full-bodied. 'Dude, Where's My Car?' won't win any awards, but it does all that it needs to do.
Nope, nothing good here -- just a measly trailer. Really, Fox, you need to step it up, even on a marginal catalog title like this...
Do I really need to tell you that 'Dude, Where's My Car?' is a totally stupid movie? No, I don't, but I can say it's mildly enjoyable in its own meager way, and both Seann William Scott and a young Ashton Kutcher make likable doofi. This Blu-ray is totally bare bones -- there's only a trailer as an extra, and the MPEG-2 transfer and DTS-MA audio are serviceable. Diehard fans of 'Dude, Where's My Car?' (are there any?) may still want to check this out, but for $39.98 MSRP, Fox really needed to deliver plenty more to make this worth the price.