Movie Review By Casey McCabe
Who'd have thought that with 20 years of hindsight a film like "Animal House" could actually appear cerebral? That was the film that launched producer Ivan Reitman's career and now Reitman has returned to college to more fully explore what was a minor sequence in "Animal House"...the road trip. The name of this new film is..."Road Trip."
This road trip actually has an urgent mission. Our somewhat-good guy Josh, a middling student in Ithaca, New York, finds out that his roommate accidentally sent a sex video of Josh cheating on his girlfriend to his girlfriend, who lives in Austin, Texas. They have approximately 72 hours to drive the 1,800 miles to Austin and intercept it. The "they" is pulled from a stable of stock college characters who can be mixed and matched as easily as GrrrAnimals. There's Mister Party Dude, who is sexually obsessed, not that that particularly distinguishes him from anyone else. There's Wisecracking Smart Guy, just a little more glib and philosophical than the rest of the bunch. And of course, Ultra Geek, the repressed bookworm who can be talked out of his car just for the chance to bask in the reflected glory of the popular campus guys.
The car will be destroyed. Virginity will be lost. French toast will be stuffed down a fat man's pants. An expository scene will be placed inside a women's locker room. Animals will be sadistically teased. Well, you get the picture. So if you're a grown adult and know you don't want to go, don't go.
But here's the tricky part. It's not loathsome. In fact I laughed at a lot of "Road Trip," including several moments where I felt not the least bit guilty. There's a template being followed here, sure, but director Todd Phillips and screenwriter Scot Armstrong, each making his feature film debut, aren't slaves to it. It's not even as blatantly sexist as these films are given permission to be. And where it is, like the locker room scene, it's part of the joke. I liked most of the cast — an amalgam of "Felicity," "Varsity Blues" and "American Pie" vets. And I got a genuine kick out of Tom Green, the whack MTV host, playing the 8th year senior and campus tour guide who spins our story in a desperate attempt to entice prospective students and their parents. It's the most original and funny device in the film. If you enjoy the humor of Chris Elliot — and I have mourned the cancellation of his sitcom "Get a Life" for 10 years now — you might want to look into Tom Green.
Bottom line? "Road Trip" is funnier than "Gladiator." You'll have to decide for yourself from there.
© 2000 - Casey McCabe - Air Date: 5/31/00
"Movie Magazine International" Movie Review Index
"Movie Magazine International" Home Page