2000; Rated R; 93 Minutes
Breckin Meyer: Josh Porter
Seann William Scott: E.L.
Amy Smart: Beth
Paulo Costanzo: Rubin
DJ Qualls: Kyle Edwards
Rachel Blanchard: Tiffany Henderson
Anthony Rapp: Jacob
Fred Ward: Earl Edwards
Tom Green: Barry Manilow
Produced by Daniel Goldberg, Joe Medjuck, Tom Pollock
and Ivan Reitman; Directed by Todd Phillips; Screenwritten
by Todd Phillips and Scot Armstrong
by DAVID KEYES
comedy has a history of skirting the line between plausible
and pretentious, and with the ambitious “Road Trip,” laughs
fly off the screen so fast and consistently that, eventually,
the movie shifts into overdrive and practically commits
suicide. One can easily smile at the endless supply of quirks
offered here: crude sexual undertones, jolting irony and
biting one-liners, just to name a few. And yet the picture
loses its push just when things are heating up; it assumes
that audiences have been manipulated enough to be amused
by an oncoming chain of breast shots and banalities of the
elderly and the obese. Most will sense something terribly
wrong once the film gets so desperate for plausible laughs
that a characters winds up holding a mouse in his hands
to imitate a snake on the verge of devouring its next meal.
plot’s direction reflects what most road trips have in common:
an excursion is focused, but the side trips and detours
are what make the journey all the more amusing. Here’s the
hook: Josh Porter (Breckin Meyer) is a student at Ithica
University in New York, who maintains a long distance relationship
with his sweetheart Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard). Suspecting
that she is cheating on him because of her lack of communication,
Josh sees it as an ideal time to jump on the advances made
by classmate Beth (Amy Smart) and have sex with her. The
problem: Beth videotapes the encounter, and when Josh records
his own tape for Tiffany, both get mixed up and the sex
video winds up in the mail.
an exam on the way and not enough money to buy airplane
tickets, Josh and his three pals pack up and head for Texas
on a three-day road trip in hopes that they can retrieve
the infamous sex tape before Tiffany gets a hold of it.
Such clasps can only mean plenty of humor-inducing subplots,
and the numerous misadventures these four college guys have
are emphasized in comedic tones easily as crude as those
of a typical Farrely brothers comedy. Some of the gags are
hilarious (one of the best belongs to a restaurant waiter
who keeps French Toast warm using his body heat), but others
are tone-deaf (such as one involving one of the guys losing
his virginity to an overweight woman who wears leopard panties).
Narrating these occurrences is MTV’s radical comedian Tom
Green, whose character, Barry Manilow (!), accounts for
some of the picture’s other big cackles (with the rat/snake
joke as mentioned earlier being the only reservation).
far so good, at least moderately. A turn for the worst waits
in the wings, however, when the plot then becomes back-burnered
by this intense dose of humor and causes the movie to get
so chaotic that it actually turns the villain (being Beth)
into the heroin. Struggling to get things back on track,
the jokes get even sicker and sicker, eventually turning
our shrill laughs into utter groans of discomfort. We expect
this kind of treatment with most teen comedy nowadays (last
year’s “American Pie” successfully handled a similar situation),
but not at the expense of old folks or women (most of whom
are thrown into the movie simply to supply hormone-raging
teen viewers with satisfying amounts of uncovered boob shots).
The tastelessness of sexually-oriented comedy creates big
laughs in “Road Trip,” but unfortunately, not enough to
overcome some of the film’s dense negative energy.
dismiss the picture entirely would be unfair; given its
handful of badly-executed jokes (not to mention its variable
pace and gritty perspective of coming-of-age substance),
“Road Trip” is still pretty solid on other grounds. The
characters are well founded, the premise maintains a hairline
of focus, and the majority of the humor has excellent precision.
Just don’t go in expecting another “American Pie.”
David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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