If you think the most exciting thing that could come out of a
trip to Austin is your meeting Gov. Bush or even (wow!)
shaking hands with Harry Knowles, you may be the victim of
a limited imagination. You're not likely to have the time of
your life like the fellas and gals in Todd Phillips's "Road Trip,"
a frequently rollicking but always smile-on-your-face sitcom
which for better or worse does not out-vulgar "American Pie"
as a (so to speak) coming of age comedy. But the one-liners
are so spot-on and the characters so lively and refreshing in
their individual eccentricities that "Road Trip" is a journey
you'll want to make.
Co-written by Scot Armstrong, "Road Trip" is scripted and
directed by NYU Film School graduate Todd Phillips ("Frat
House") who takes a cameo for himself in this, his first major
studio release. His actors include Brecklin Meyer as the all-
American type, Josh; Seann William Scott as Josh's best
friend E.L.; Amy Smart as Josh's new love interest, Beth, and
D.J. Qualls as the nerd of the group, Kyle. Now, Austin may
not be the most fascinating destination in America but as they
say, the journey and not the goal is what traveling is all
about. Even then, you're as likely to win the lottery as meet
up with the idiosyncratic cross-section of America that these
The trip is hosted by a narrator, Barry (MTV's Tom Green),
who frames the film as a story he relates to a group of
parents and future students of Ithaca University in New York--
whom he is escorting around the campus. As the tour bogs
down in boredom (particularly since Barry, who is in his
eighth year at the college, doesn't know much about the
buildings he's showing off), Barry relates the story of a trip
made by a group of his fellow collegians some time back in
which he played a back-home role.
The story goes something like this. When Josh, who has
been the boy friend of Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard) since they
were five, has a fling for the first time with another student at
Ithaca, Beth, he filmed his one-night stand on his video
camera. By accident, the tape was mailed to Josh's girl
friend, now a student at the University of Austin. Josh and
three of his pals hit the road to head off the package before it
can get into Tiffany's hands. Along the way they meet with
some of the goofy oddballs that make America such a great
land of diversity--bizarre people and outlandish situations that
constitute the basis for the comedy. Their escapades include
conning a blind woman at a school for the sightless into
lending them a bus, pretending to be brothers a national
fraternity which turns out to have an all-black membership,
and raising money by making donations at a sperm back.
Each of these situations, and many more, are successfully
milked for comedy in Phillips and Armstrong's script--which
makes obvious allowances for some ad-libbing by this
talented group of young people playing at enjoying the best
years of their lives.
Watch especially for a cameo by Corky the talking dog, for
what is (to me) a most original way to contribute to a sperm
bank, and for a waiter's innovative method to remove
unwanted sugar from the surface of a plate of French Toast.
The performers are likeable to a fault, especially Tom Green
as the guy who may not be able to pass his courses but he
sure can tell tall tales, enough to persuade everyone on the
tour to look forward to matriculating at Ithaca. "Road Trip" is
about the college you wish you attended.
Copyright © 2000 Harvey Karten