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Notes from the back row

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The DVD of the week is Sex Drive: Unrated and Cream Filled which promises to be "Ruder, Cruder, and Nuder" than the theatrical version, and it delivers. Generally the DVD "extended versions' of comedies include maybe one or two riffing improv exchanges or extra scenes that were trimmed from the theatrical release, and that's it.

Talladega Nights , for example, had a few more Will Ferrell "tiny infant Jesus" moments around the dinner table and little else.

This is not always a bad thing - generally the funniest version of a film is the more streamlined theatrical release and most movies will keep anything even remotely funny in from the start. Sex Drive director Sean Anders is well aware of this, he even mentions it in the introduction to his "Uncircumcised" version, and then he flips the script.

Sex Drive is not a groundbreaking film. Dorky teen Ian is an 18-year-old virgin who suffers a lot of fluids- and dildo-based humiliation in the first act. Then Lance, his portly-yet-suave buddy convinces Ian to steal his agro brother's Pontiac Judge and drive from Chicago to Knoxville to bang a good-to-go chick Ian met on the Internet. The kicker is that Felicia, Ian's best friend that he not-so-secretly loves, joins in for the ride. Hijinks ensue.

The flick is very American Pie meets Road Trip meets Superbad and almost every other teen sex comedy made in the last ten years. It's nothing new really, but what sets the unrated version apart is how Anders plays with the film's own mediocrity. He cunningly inserts botched takes directly into the narrative, providing scenes where the actors say ridiculous things and then crack up laughing. He delivers well-edited extended banter outtakes and improvisations, and it all works, adding a sense of playfulness to the film. But the real groundbreaking filmmaking, the true innovative technique, is when Anders gets clusters of naked women walk through the background of his scenes for no reason at all except to raise what we film experts call the "titty factor."

In many strokes of genius he also randomly inserts extended clips of full frontal nudity (male and female) into the film and lets them run for way longer than anyone is comfortable with. And again, it works - who knew that a close up of a man's naked cock running through a fake cornfield would be funny, but it is.

Without the juvenile and excessive nudity Sex Drive doesn't offer a whole lot more - some good laughs, classic Seth Green, and yet another take on the standard teen convention of  the "let's just be friends" theme (see also Just Friends When Harry Met Sally , or My Best Friend's Girl , which sucks). But tits and cock are funny, and this is the rare occasion when the DVD, riddled with both, beats the theatre version hands down. Disc 2 includes a bunch of entertaining mini-documentaries including a good one with James Marsden, who, in Sex Drive , elevates the Stiffler role to new levels.

Sticking with nudity but in a good movie this time, the Village 8 is screening The Wrestler this week. A redemption flick starring Mickey Rourke (he got a lot of praise for this one) and an often-topless Marisa Tomei (looking good at 44) The Wrestler is one of my favourite flicks of last year. Rourke kills it, Tomei rules. Sure, the father-daughter stuff was a but underplayed but that Hair Metal discussion about how Kurt Cobain ruined rock and roll is one of the best scenes of 2008. Support your local movie theatre and see it today.