20 Facts About Dude, Where’s My Car?
By Jon O'Brien
There were many vital questions posed in Dude, Where's My Car?, the 2000 stoner comedy that established Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott as two of their generation’s most lovable doofuses. Why was the pair’s refrigerator stocked with a year’s supply of chocolate pudding? What exactly is a Continuum Transfunctioner? And why was the Chinese food lady so determined to upsell? The most pressing query, of course, was Dude, Where’s My Car? Twenty years on from its remarkable reveal (spoiler alert: it was parked behind a mail truck all along), here are 20 facts that its two leads would no doubt describe as "sweet!"
1. Dude, Where’s My Car? beat an animated Disney movie at the box office.
Dude, Where’s My Car? pulled in a respectable $13.8 million in its opening weekend back in December 2000. And it would have taken the box office's top spot had it not suffered the misfortune of being released the same week as the fourth highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, the Mel Gibson-starring What Women Want. However, it did beat another of the week’s other major releases: The Emperor’s New Groove. The Walt Disney Animation feature earned a disappointing $9.8 million, snagging the fourth spot in that week's box office totals.
2. Jake Gyllenhaal auditioned for a lead role in Dude, Where’s My Car?
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott assuming the roles of immature goofs Jesse and Chester in Dude, Where's My Car? But in an alternate universe, an Academy Award nominee could have taken one of their places. That’s right: As he revealed to Jimmy Fallon in 2016, Jake Gyllenhaal auditioned to play one of the two dudes the year before he shot to fame in Donnie Darko. Unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately, considering how his career turned out—the acclaimed actor failed to impress the casting team with his idea of giving his character a lisp.
3. Seth Rogen also auditioned for Dude, Where’s My Car?
From Knocked Up and Pineapple Express to This Is the End and The Night Before, Seth Rogen has built a career out of playing manchild stoners. So it’s perhaps more surprising to learn that the Canadian also failed his Dude, Where’s My Car? audition. In a 2008 interview with The A.V. Club, Rogen jokingly suggested that he didn’t get a leading role as he was simply too skilled at finding lost vehicles: "Yeah, I knew where my car was. I was just like 'Oh, it's just right there, don't worry about it.'"
4. The Zoltan hand gesture from Dude, Where’s My Car? was adopted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A simple hand gesture which forms the letter Z, the Zoltan is enthusiastically displayed by the bubblewrap jumpsuit-clad UFO cult that briefly ensnares Jesse and Chester. Following a clubhouse viewing of the movie 12 years after its release, the Pittsburgh Pirates randomly decided to adopt this maneuver for celebratory purposes.
Remarkably, this bizarre form of bonding appeared to inspire the struggling MLB franchise. In 2012, Andrew McCutchen and company finally ended their unwanted record-breaking tally of 20 losing seasons in a row. Even Zoltan himself, Hal Sparks, got in on the action, accepting an invitation to throw out the first ceremonial pitch at a game that ended with the Pirates winning 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.
5. Dude, Where’s My Car? references two comedy classics.
Dude, Where’s My Car? might not be considered an all-time comedy great by many, but it did take inspiration from two bona fide classics. In fact, its title is derived from the line that John Goodman’s Walter utters after leaving the bowling alley with Donny and The Dude in the Coen brothers’ cult favorite The Big Lebowski. And Pierre’s question about the average running speed of a full-grown male African ostrich is said to be a play on the Monty Python and the Holy Grail line “What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”
6. Seann William Scott thought Dude, Where’s My Car? might be an Oscar contender.
A wacky comedy about two stoned imbeciles searching for their lost Renault 105 doesn’t exactly scream "Oscar bait." Nevertheless, both Kutcher and Scott believed Dude, Where's My Car? would be the film to propel them to awards glory. The latter recalled his naïveté in a 2019 appearance on Conan, telling the host that he was “really upset” that Dude, Where’s My Car? didn't earn any Oscar nods. With his tongue placed firmly in cheek, Scott claimed that if the movie had been released a decade later, it would definitely “win some medals.”
7. Dude, Where’s My Car? did receive some awards recognition.
Although Jesse and Chester’s ridiculous adventures were overlooked by the Academy, they were recognized by at least a few high-profile ceremonies: The Teen Choice Awards nominated Dude, Where’s My Car? for four different honors, including in the rather niche category of Choice Hissy Fit. Kutcher also picked up newcomer nods at both the MTV Movie Awards and Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards. Sadly, the movie failed to convert any of its nominations into wins.
8. Dude, Where’s My Car? has a strong connection to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Long before she became one of Hollywood’s most outspoken conservatives, Kristy Swanson was better known as the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Dude, Where’s My Car?, she plays Christie Boner, whose name sort of says it all. Swanson's boyfriend in the movie is played by Charlie O’Connell, former Bachelor star and brother of Stand By Me and Sliders star Jerry O’Connell, who just one year previously had dated the second and most famous incarnation of Sunnydale’s finest, Sarah Michelle Gellar.
9. Dude, Where’s My Car? inspired a Bollywood comedy.
Although not a direct remake, 2013’s Mere Dad Ki Maruti blatantly borrowed its storyline from a certain half-baked comedy released 13 years earlier. Transporting the action from California to the Indian city of Chandigarh, the Bollywood film sees a college student secretly take his bride-to-be sister’s wedding present, a seven-seat MPV, out for a spin ... only to lose it. Cue various japes as he and his best friend do everything they can to recover it in time for the big day. Admittedly, there aren’t any super-sized aliens or back tattoo mix-ups, but there are still echoes of Jesse and Chester’s escapades throughout.
10. Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott drove the eponymous car to the Dude, Where’s My Car? premiere.
Kutcher and Scott rocked up to the Los Angeles premiere of Dude, Where’s My Car? in style. The two leading men hit the red carpet in the same Renault 105 vehicle they spent most of the movie looking for. Not that everyone was a fan of their choice of transport. In 2018, automotive site Hot Cars named the green and yellow ‘70s throwback as the worst movie car of all time.
11. Dude, Where’s My Car? is based on the screenwriter’s real-life friends.
We’re not sure why screenwriter Philip Stark would want to admit this. But apparently, several of the key scenes and characters in Dude, Where’s My Car? were based on his real-life friends. Stark, who has also worked on South Park and another Kutcher vehicle, That ‘70s Show, claimed in the movie's production notes that the wacky comedy is “about just me and my buddies.” We can only assume that all the kidnapping cults, man-eating aliens, and shape-shifting Rubik’s cubes were a figment of his imagination.
12. Ashton Kutcher became an impromptu ostrich wrangler on the set of Dude, Where’s My Car?
One of the film’s most memorable scenes involves Jesse and Chester being chased by a pack of wild ostriches—and it turns out that Kutcher had to square off with one of the 250-pound, 10-foot-tall birds for real. The actor saved the day when said creature charged toward him in a bid for freedom. Instead of stepping aside like most sane Hollywood stars would do, an adrenalin-fueled Kutcher decided to grab the ostrich’s neck, a tactic which—despite their disparity in size and weight—somehow thwarted the animal’s escape.
13. Actor Brent Spiner asked to have his name removed from the credits of Dude, Where’s My Car?
Best known for playing Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Brent Spiner briefly pops up in the film as vengeful ostrich farmer named Pierre. But initially the actor wasn’t too proud of his cameo. In fact, he asked producers to remove his name from the credits, believing that it wouldn’t exactly look good on his resume. However, in 2012, Spiner told The A.V. Club that this had been an arrogant move which he now regrets: “I think honestly, believe it or not, that Dude, Where’s My Car? in a way represents its time better than almost any film made around that.”
14. Jason Reitman turned down the chance to direct Dude, Where’s My Car?
Jason Reitman has directed Jennifer Garner in both his Oscar-nominated dramedy Juno and his less well-received cautionary tale, Men, Women & Children. But he first had the chance to work with the Hollywood star at the turn of the century when he was offered the director’s chair on Dude, Where’s My Car? Despite having only two short films under his belt, the son of Ghostbusters legend Ivan decided to pass on the opportunity not just once, but twice.
15. Hal Hartley also said no to directing Dude, Where’s My Car?
Hal Hartley, who is renowned for offbeat indie dramedies such as The Unbelievable Truth and Simple Men, seemed an odd choice to helm a stoner comedy featuring cameos from Andy Dick and Fabio. Yet apparently the Sundance darling was also offered the gig before the late Danny Leiner came on board. Speaking to Hammer to Nail in 2010, Hartley hinted that he had been tempted to take on such an unlikely project.
16. There was a real Freak In Cage web page.
After being locked up by Pierre, Jesse and Chester meet another captive, Mark (Andy Dick), who asks them to keep in touch via his www.freakincage.com website. If you happened to enter this URL in the wake of the film’s release, then you would have been greeted with the sight of the disheveled prisoner in, yes, a cage.
17. Dude, Where’s My Car? has inspired everything from a Michael Moore book to a parking app.
Dude, Where’s My Car? is a pretty great film title. So it’s little wonder that several names have attempted to capitalize on its appeal. In 2003, documentarian and activist Michael Moore published a book about the American political landscape titled Dude, Where’s My Country? In 2014, the third installment of the children’s festive franchise Nativity opted for the subtitle of Dude, Where’s My Donkey? And perhaps inevitably, there’s now a parking app called, you guessed it, Dude, Where’s My Car?
18. Jennifer Garner referenced Dude, Where’s My Car? while receiving her Golden Globe.
Just two years after playing Jesse’s girlfriend Wanda, Jennifer Garner was crowned Best Dramatic Actress at the Golden Globes. Having established herself as a serious talent worthy of beating out the likes of Edie Falco and Lorraine Bracco for an acting statue, you might have expected her to sweep her goofy comedy past under the carpet. But she actually referenced the film while accepting the award, telling Alias creator J. J. Abrams, “I don’t know why you cast me in this role. I don’t know why you thought I could do it. I know I was good in Dude, Where’s My Car?, but seriously?!”
19. Dude, Where’s My Car? is now considered to be progressive.
Sure, Dude, Where’s My Car? still has its problematic moments—see how it handles the self-proclaimed “gender-challenged male” stripper, for example—but for the most part, the film is now seen as rather progressive for a turn-of-the-century stoner movie, particularly with its attitude toward homosexuality. In a queer reading of the film for HuffPost, Cole Delbyck wrote, “At almost every turn, the pair is confronted with the potential of homosexual relations and in select moments, like their open-mouthed make out, the film succeeds in challenging sexual boundaries.”
20. Both Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott are up for a Dude, Where’s My Car? sequel.
You might think that the time for a Dude, Where’s My Car? sequel has passed. But both Kutcher and Scott have claimed that they’re up for reprising their roles as Jesse and Chester should the opportunity arise. In 2016, Kutcher revealed that there was already an actual script for a movie titled Seriously Dude, Where’s My Car? that he’d consider signing up for. One year later, Scott expressed interest in making an R-rated follow-up that would be “dark and really weird.” Sadly, we’ve so far been deprived of seeing whether the two twenty-something stoners are still as dopey in middle age.