Awfully Good: Dude, Where’s My Car?

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

This past October saw the unfortunate passing of filmmaker Danny Leiner, who directed episodes of Arrested Development and Freaks and Geeks,  HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE and of course the classic…


Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)


Director: Danny Leiner
Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Garner

Dude Wheres My Car cover

Stoner friends Jesse and Chester wake up one morning unable to locate their vehicle and, even worse, unable to remember anything they did the night before. I'm sure it didn't involve an alien cult, unfortunate back tattoos, transexual strippers, and something called the Continuum Transfunctioner…

There are dumb movies and then there are what I would consider "smart" dumb movies, where a film is so stupid that it actually took some clever people putting in real effort to make it both brainless and entertaining. DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR is a solid example of this.

I mean, this is a movie where they built an animatronic dog just so it could smoke pot in a 10-second shot.

DWMC point
"Do you know where I can find a movie about the indomitable power of the human spirit with rich themes and well-composed characters?"

I don't want to make it sound like this is some long-forgotten gem, but if you're willing to put pretensions aside, DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR remains enjoyable and rewatchable. There's a reason people still quote and talk about this movie nearly 20 years later, with both stars still threatening to make a sequel as recently as last year.

The success is really in the execution more than the concept. Director Danny Leiner and writer Phillip Stark realize the expectations that come with a movie titled DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR and play it perfectly, finding a nice balance between broad comedy, off-the-wall silliness, and good-natured weirdness. (And at 83 minutes long, the right length.) There's a certain level of courage in making a stoner comedy that features Super Hot Giant Aliens, aggressive ostriches, Andy Dick in a cage, and a homoerotic encounter with Fabio and still have it actually come together in the end.

The annual Extreme Teabagging Championships are always a good time.

Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott are also both better than expected as Jesse and Chester. A lot of the script, such as the "Dude! "Sweet!" spin on the classic Abbot and Costello "Who's on First" routine, probably looked ridiculously stupid on paper, but the two actors have chemistry and a comedic timing together that makes the bad jokes work even when they really shouldn't. They may be morons, but Jesse and Chester are well-meaning and likeable morons, almost like a BILL AND TED for the next generation.

You may also see some familiar faces pop up along the way, from Jennifer Garner (in what I'm sure is her biggest non-Affleck-related regret) to Kristy Swanson to Hal Sparks and even an appearance by Star Trek's Brent Spiner.

How did this not get an Oscar for Best Costume Design?

Hilariously, the film opens with a title card saying it's based on a true story, I'm sure someone got high once and couldn't find their car, so that's probably not entirely inaccurate. In this particular case, the two friends lose their vehicle after a supposed night of wild partying and must retrace their steps to find it and retrieve the anniversary gifts they bought for their girlfriends so they can get laid. (This is a formula THE HANGOVER would later ape to greater success.) Along the way, they of course run in to a myriad of odd characters and situations, including:

  • A money-laundering stripper with a big surprise in the champagne room
  • A group of leather-clad women who offer erotic pleasure in exchange for information about a mysterious alien devices
  • Two monotone Norwegian men also after the same device and who use Hoboken, New Jersey as a form of punishment
  • A space cult who wear bubble wrap and worship a leader named Zoltan. (Zoltan!)
  • Two police detectives who use third-party interrogation techniques
  • A French ostrich farmer who has held Andy Dick prisoner for years (So, that explains where he went…)

An average day in the life of Ashton Kutcher'.

And that's not even counting all the times the film takes random detours, like an extended scene at a camp for blind kids, which I'm pretty sure could be used in court as evidence of child endangerment, or the time the movie completely stops for a questionable rap video where Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott lip sync to Young MC's Bust a Move in its entirety. It's truly just one strange encounter after another with so many quotable lines.

Everything culminates with one of the all-time great MacGuffins—an alien device called the Continuum Transfunctioner that everyone chases after despite not knowing what it is or what it does. All I know is that DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR ends with the two stoner heroes having to disable the Continuum Transfunctioner in order to save the universe and stop an invasion of giant alien women wearing giant alien panties. I'm pretty sure that's not a scene anyone was expecting when they started this movie.

Worst Free Tibet rally ever.

And then…

Too many to choose from.

From Super Hot Giant Aliens to blind kids getting to second base, a sampling of the movie's more memorable moments.

It's PG-13 but they still sneak in some wet T-shirts

Shibby! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Someone inquires as to the whereabouts of their vehicle
  • Someone says "Shibby!"
  • Someone says "Zoltan!"
  • Someone gets hit by a car
  • It's stoner/nerd bashing time!

Double shot if:

  • Someone has trouble ordering at the drive through


Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.



About the Author