Road Trip Movie Review

The plot is dumb: A flunking Joe College (Breckin Meyer) drives 1,800 miles with a carload of crazy buddies to stop the delivery of a homemade sex tape he shot with a hot Betty Coed (Amy Smart) -- then accidentally mailed to his long-time, long-distance sweetheart (Rachel Blanchard).

The characters are elementary: Meyer's traveling companions include the Overstimulated Stud (Seann William Scott) who assures him it's not cheating if you're in different area codes, the Stoner Dude (Paulo Costanzo) and the Apprehensive 98-lb. Nerd (DJ Qualls) who is the only guy they know who owns a road-worthy car.

The humor is crude: Fat jokes, geek-virgin gags and boobs, boobs, boobs. (And as if that's not enough, Tom Green -- MTV's crown purveyor of questionably comical perversion -- has a significant role as the narrator, a brain-fried, 30-something career student.)

But hey, man, what do you want? It's right there in the title: "Road Trip" is an anything-can-go-wrong, frat-mentality, college comedy-road trip movie made for a post-"Something About Mary" world -- and I'm a little ashamed to say, I laughed my butt off all the way through it.

Co-written and directed by Todd Philips -- the guy who made the questionably authentic "Frat House" documentary that won a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1998 -- with a sharp eye out for screwball embellishments, "Road Trip" wants to be an "Animal House" for the new millennium.

It doesn't quite have that picture's timeless cross-section of college characters or the beer-and-chips bouquet of a cult classic in the making. But in terms of Laughs Per Minute, it just might measure up.

Our assemblage of dormmates pile into Quall's blue 1980s Ford Taurus at the University of Ithaca (New York) and make tracks for the University of Austin (Texas) on a variety of obstacle-plagued back roads, since all road movies take place in a world without freeways. Ill-advised short cuts lead to nights at scrappy motels (Andy Dick from "Newsradio" plays an freaky goober desk clerk) and in the homes of eccentric grandparents (insert Viagra jokes here). And of course, along the way the car is destroyed jumping a ravine, so they steal a school bus from a home for the blind to complete their journey.

Meanwhile back in Ithaca, Green becomes obsessed with feeding live mice to Stoner Dude's pet snake; hot Betty Coed (Smart, "Outside Providence," "The '70s") mistakenly goes to Boston (sounds like Austin) looking for Meyer to lay claim to him for herself and accidentally breaks up the wrong couple; and a jealous, brown-nosing teaching assistant (Anthony Rapp) with a jones for Smart sets up Meyer to take a fall on his Ancient Philosophy final.

None of this is the really funny stuff, though. Most of the chuckles come from innumerable incidental asides peppered through every single scene. A sampler: Green (call him Bluto-lite) encourages the snake to eat by putting the mouse in his own mouth. In Austin the video retrieval crew BS its way into staying the night at an all-Black frat house, where a party, bad dancing and nerd boy cherry-popping ensue. There's a midget at the frat, too, but no midget jokes. Go figure.

I just read that again, and it doesn't sound screamingly funny in print, does it? My point is, it's the comedy garnish -- and there's a ton of it -- that makes the movie, which is otherwise a little short on energy and characters of any real interest.

Comments

Road Trip Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, Opened: Friday, May 19, 2000

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