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Road Trip

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Road Trip

Starring: Breckin Meyer, Tom Green
Director: Todd Phillips
Rated: R
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: May 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Horatio Sanz, Amy Smart, Rhoda Griffis, Anthony Rapp, Seann W. Scott, Paolo Costanzo, Andy Dick, Fred Ward, Wendell B. Harris Jr.

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

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 guys do.

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

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