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Joy Ride

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Joy Ride

Starring: Steve Zahn, Paul Walker
Director: John Dahl
Rated: R
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: October 2001
Genres: Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Matthew Kimbrough, Leelee Sobieski, Rachel Singer

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

In JOY RIDE, directed with a wicked sense of comedic horror by John Dahl (ROUNDERS and THE LAST SEDUCTION), you'll be jumping, laughing and jumping again. No horror movie spoof, this is the genuine article, which, until the last act, mainly uses the threats of violence and the anticipation of horror to frighten. And frighten it does quite effectively and chillingly.

JOY RIDE also amuses, thanks to Clay Tarver and Jeffrey Abrams's carefully developed script and to Steve Zahn's (HAPPY, TEXAS) infectious brand of humor. When you're not laughing, you'll probably be squeezing the hand of the person next to you. It's a good way to bond with a stranger in the dark. On second thought, be sure to go with someone you know well.

It all starts off innocently enough as Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS) is off to pick up his friend, Venna (Leelee Sobieski, THE GLASS HOUSE), from college in Colorado and drive her to her home in New Jersey. Before he picks her up, he makes a side trip to pick up his wastrel brother, Fuller (Zahn), who is just getting out of jail, again.

While by themselves, the brothers get involved in a juvenile prank over the CB in Lewis's junker, a 1971 Chrysler Newport. With CB handles of Mom's Boy (Fuller) and Candy Cane (Lewis using a girl's voice), they lure a gruff sounding trucker with the ominous handle of "Rusty Nail" to a motel to meet Candy Cane. From that point on, very bad things keep almost happening and a few really bad things do occur. Sometimes you can see trouble brewing -- roads labeled "Dead End" and fields of tall corn are definite giveaways -- and other times danger comes completely out of the blue.

Until the last part, the terror is interspersed nicely with some perfectly timed humor. "You guys okay to get back to the main road?" asks one friendly stranger whom they had originally assumed to be Mr. Nail. "Sure, now that we're not dead," Fuller jokes back, while still shaking in his boots from their near death experience. The funniest scene comes when Fuller demonstrates just the right technique to diffuse a brewing bar battle with a group of hostile rednecks.

JOY RIDE is funny, frightening and fabulously fun. And it's all made quite plausible. One thing is certain, kids who see it will probably never be tempted to pull a prank on a stranger. And, if you see cars on the highway steering clear of 18-wheelers, you can probably assume that they've recently seen JOY RIDE.

JOY RIDE runs 1:36. It is rated R for "violence/terror and language" and would be acceptable for most teenagers.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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