You might not expect that a slacker comedy cult classic likeÂ Dude, Whereâ€™s My Car?Â would follow any type ofÂ writing beat sheetÂ or story framework â€“ rules, what? â€“ but, dude, youâ€™d be wrong.
In this beat sheet, weâ€™ll show you howÂ the movieÂ fits within the context of Dan Harmonâ€™s Story Circle plot structure â€“ no secret hand signs required. And then? Well, thatâ€™s up to you.
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Act 1: Setup
Beat 1 – YouÂ
We meet protagonists Jesse and Chester (you), two twenty-something best friends living in the suburbs, who wake up one morning with severe hangovers and no memory of what happened the night before. As they stumble through their home and try to piece things together, they discover a fridge full of chocolate pudding, pizza everywhere, and a stranger sleeping in their closet.
Beat 2 – Need
On their voicemail, they find an upset message from their girlfriends, the Twins: their house is trashed,Â andÂ itâ€™s their anniversary. If Jesse and Chester want a â€œspecial treatâ€ â€“ which they think will be sex for the first time â€“ they need to give them their gifts, which are in the car. But when Jesse and Chester go outside, they realize their car is missing (â€œdude, whereâ€™s my car?â€) and frantically start retracing their steps.
Act 2: Confrontation
Beat 3 – Go
After meeting with their friend Nelson for guidance, Jesse and Chester go to town for answers and run into Christie, who did see them with a briefcase full of money the night before. After her jock boyfriend, Tommy, scares them off, they head to a strip club where a stripper demands they return a suitcase with $200k â€“ or else!
Next, they go to their girlfriendsâ€™ house, which is a mess, and proceed to make matters worse. As they leave, a group of space nerds briefly abducts them, seeking to recover a mysterious and powerful alien device called the Continuum Transfunctioner, which they appeared to have last night. They are dropped off by a tailor shop and warned that they are now in great danger and should trust no one.
Beat 4 – Search
Dumbfounded, Jesse starts to freak out, but their search continues. The tailor gives them suits they donâ€™t recall ordering (one contains a Rubikâ€™s cube), and they meet the Hot Chicks, a group of women dressed in black who promise â€œpleasureâ€ in exchange for the Transfunctioner. Just then, the police show up and put Jesse and Chester in jail, saying their car was found fleeing a crime scene.
They are quickly released (a case of mistaken identity), and it seems the car is finally within reach â€“ except the police sent it to the impound. In the meantime, the Hot Chicks make allies of Tommy and his jock friends and persuade them to look for Jesse and Chester, and the Transfunctioner.
As theyâ€™re leaving the station, Jesse & Chester learn Nelson has been taken hostage by Tommy (who is looking for them), and then encounter two Nordic dudes who are seeking the Transfunctioner to prevent the destruction of the universe. Exasperated, they go home to watch TV.
Soon after, their girlfriends show up and dump them for being â€œsucky boyfriends,â€ and the guys realize they love them and recommit themselves to the search and repairing their relationships.
Beat 5 – Find
First step: they go to the police impound for their car, only to find itâ€™s been sold. As they head over to the buyerâ€™s address, the space nerds abduct them to a house in the country (where their leader Zoltan lives with his parents). They reveal the Twins are their hostages, and Zoltan sends them off, threatening to hurt the Twins if Jesse and Chester donâ€™t bring him the Transfunctioner.
They then sneak into the buyer’s gated address, only to be attacked by ostriches and trapped in a cage by ostrich farmer Pierre. After answering an ostrich trivia question, he frees them and agrees to let them get their stuff from the car. But when they go to the garage, they find the car is missing.
However, Pierre gives them a key he found in the car to a locker at the Space-o-Rama arcade, where they head next. In the locker, they find the stripperâ€™s briefcase of money (which they promptly give back) and arcade tickets, but no Transfunctioner.
At this point, Jesse and Chester realize nobody has ever said what the Transfunctioner looks like and devise a solution. Theyâ€™ll use their tickets to get alien-looking devices from the arcade and then tell everyone they found the device. What could go wrong?
Beat 6 – Take
The idea seems to be working perfectly. Zoltan and his crew show up at the arcade, take the device, and trade back their girlfriends. When Tommy and his jocks arrive, he attacks Zoltan, takes the device, and releases their friend Nelson. But as Jesse & Chester try to leave, the Nordic Dudes announce itâ€™s a fake and Tommy becomes enraged as he figures out whatâ€™s happened.
Before he can do anything, Chester completes the Rubikâ€™s cube, which transforms itself into the Transfunctioner and activates a bomb that can destroy the universe. With time running out, Jesse and Chester must decide between giving it to the Nordic Dudes or the Hot Chicks; they give it to the Dudes, who deactivate it. Their girlfriends are impressed.
In retaliation, the Hot Chicks morph into a single giant alien woman and start terrorizing the arcade. They knock out the Nordic dudes, and Jesse and Chester take the device to stop them. With the alien approaching, they laser beam her to pieces and save the universe.
Act 3: Resolution
Beat 7 – Return
In the aftermath, Christie dumps Tommy for Nelson, and the Nordic dudes invite the space nerds to an outer space party â€“ just before they take back the Transfunctioner and wipe Jesse and Chesterâ€™s memory of the saga. They wake up the next morning in their home, dazed, mirroring how the story began.
Beat 8 – Change
When they go outside, their car is sitting by the curb. They eagerly head to their girlfriends’ home as initially intended, give them their gifts (engraved necklaces), and their girlfriends call them “great boyfriends.” Jesse and Chester also finally receive their special treat: engraved French berets! They all drive out into the distance for Chinese food.
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