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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 Jerry Saravia
No Rating Supplied

I walked out of "Joyride" a little dazed and unsure of what I had just seen. My uncertainty was because I thought I had seen a great film but in reality, upon closer inspection, "Joyride" is not great but it is a damn good scary ride.

"Joyride" begins with Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker) at college talking to his best friend Venna (Leelee Sobieski) on the phone. He plans to pick her up at Colorado and take her to back on a trip to New Jersey. On the way, Louis hears that his brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn), has been arrested for being drunk and disorderly in Utah. Louis picks him up on his detour and then proceeds to pick up Venna. Before you can say "Road Trip," Fuller decides to buy a CB radio for forty dollars ("a prehistoric Internet"). Before arriving in Colorado, they play around with the CB and find one trucker on their frequency by the name of Rusty Nail. Fuller convinces Louis to play a prank and pretend to be a woman named "Candy Cane" and to meet Rusty Nail at a motel. Big mistakes are always made but that is one mistake that should not have been made. Let's say all hell breaks loose once they get to the motel as this truck driver turns out to be a raging psychopath with a road rage complex.

There is nothing astounding or inspring about "Joyride" but it does have great intensity. As directed by John Dahl ("Red Rock West"), it is so intense that you will often be left gasping for air. It also helps that three terrific actors have been cast who are likable enough to keep us scared for them. Paul Walker ("Pleasantville") is both sympathetic and innocuous as Lewis, a kid that looks like a jock who wishes he were somewhere else. Steve Zahn is simply a great comic live wire as Lewis's jailbird brother, completely funny and convincingly scared throughout. He has one great moment where he saves Venna from some rednecks in a bar by pretending to be as manly as possible. Kudos must also go to Leelee Sobieski's thankless role as Venna where she has enough serene beauty to keep her watchable in all the chaos. She has one great line when she discovers who is chasing them: "I am not going to be scared of a radio."

As for the killer Rusty Nail, well, we never actually see him - only hear his menacing, malicious voice. Someone said that it reminded them too much of the killer's phone voice from "Scream." But this is not a clever pun on slasher flicks - "Joyride" puts "Scream" and most other thrillers of late to shame. It is a latter-day update on "Duel" and it keeps you on edge and makes you bounce and scream. In other words, a real thriller that thrills and intensifies the nerves. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Copyright 2001 Jerry Saravia

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