Steve Zahn, Paul Walker, Leelee Sobieski and Mathew Kimbrough
By: John Dahl
one of those cheap thrills...travelin' the U-S of A in a automobile...tunes
blastin, pedal to the metal cruisin' at 75mph down the road to
adventure...a dream for some; a horrific recurring nightmare to
me. My mind envisions several serial killer movies were they hunt
for state crossed prey or those delightful grease with a side-o-grease
swanky "pit stops" where Carl's Jr. is a considered
a Sunday eatins' delicacy filled with happy half-breeds with that
distinctive down southy trailorville- one toothed- breedin'- multiple
tattooed- bicolor hair cut in the latest in mullet sportin' style.
Oh, and the hours of endless mind numbing tedium. Helpless.
You are at the road's sinister mercy.
Ride captures that oldtime feeling of helplessness the open road
traveling horror films of the past had managed. It starts nice
and calm; very happy go lucky. Then whack, Joy Ride hits you upside
the head with a subtle lingering terror- and I'm not talking you're
out of gas at the corner of historic Route 66 and there's nothing
but the half lit light of the Motel 5 1/2 dimly over the horizon
as your sanctuary. The cast is about to face much worse...
story's simple the Thomas brothers are driving across the country.
One, Lewis (Paul Walker), has bought a car in hopes of wooing
his gal pal, Venna (Leelee Sobieski), with his offer of a college-
to- home ride. The other brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn), is just
outta prison and thankful his younger brother is even bothering
to give him a lift. Heck, Fuller's just happy to be able to bend
over for the soap without getting accosted- if you know what I'm
the beginning of the joy ride we meet Lewis as he's picking up
Fuller at prison. Fuller's one of those overtly kinetic, yet harmless,
brothers that never stops to take a breath between sentences.
The two say their hellos and share visions of an Easy Rider smooth
gig sailing across the tar and dust...But their desire for road
games in lieu of mental stimulation leads them off the exit marked
Creepland, with a left onto Anxietyville Boulevard with a brief
but quick rest stop in Terror Town.
for the Thomas brothers the car Lewis bought for the trip comes
with a CB radio. The CB is still widely used by the trucking community
to communicate where the lowest diesel is up the road, or where
the poe-leese is hanging around just waiting for them to break
their stride and jettison over the speed limit. The CB had its
public heyday back when Jim Stafford's Wildwood Weed was heard
on every station, streaking was considered hip, music came in
the form of the space-age eight track player and every car in-the-know-
had their "Keep on Truckin" bumper sticker proudly displayed.
The CB is just as much a part of American history as, say, the
cowboy, the invention of television and fluoride toothpastekind
brothers decide it would be swell to play a practical joke on
one of the CB users they've found. So Fuller eggs his brother
on to impersonate a foxy lady to a lonely truck driver somewhere
out here on the road. They snag a trucker with the CB handle of
" Rusty Nail."
two hoodwink the driver with promises of romance and possible
fornication by way of a surprisingly passable impersonation of
a lady looking for a little lovin'. They go so far as to arrange
a meeting down the road at a small motel. (think Bates and you'll
be with me..)
boys are just being boys; they don't figure he'll actually show...
Nail shows up all right, complete with the pink champagne they've,
er, she requested. He's non-to pleased to find a man in the designated
room given -- not the brothers' room mind you, but their neighbor
at the hotel.
Rusty Nail is greeted by the less than amorous occupant of the
faux room of lust he kind of freaks outto say the least.
boys hear some commotion but figure it's just the practical joke
coming to a head.
are horrified the next morning when they discover their silly
prank practically cost the room inhabitant his life. They're scared
to their marrow. But, they give their statements, tell the less
than amused local sheriff their story and decide to head on. And
try and put the whole nasty event behind them.
pick up Lewis' friend Venna (Leelee Sobieski) at her college as
planned and head towards home. They decide it's best to just not
tell Venna about the terrible incident and their little plan nearly
works until Rusty Nail finds them via the CB. Angry words are
exchanged and Venna - a college student after all - is suspicious
and wants answers.
begins Joy Ride's suspenseful, often terrifying, rabid cat and
scurrying mouse game. The boys have managed to hook a serial killer
with no sense of humor!
Zahn, who's turning out to be an enjoyable actor, delivers a fine
performance as the wisecracking' loser brother Fuller.
Walker finally gets a real role! It's a good performance by a
near-man that will soon be the cutest cupcake in the man bakery--
he just needs a few age lines ala George Clooney.
That man...Yum Central! Walker, too, looks as if he will just
get more scrumptious with age like a fine California Merlot.
Sobieski, who just appeared in The Glass House,
is a pleasure to watch. Poor kid's a bit of a bimbo in interviews...it's
probably nerves. Well, that or the DNA she shares with Helen Hunt.
Are those two like twins born years apart or what?
Ride is great; it's just scary enough to produce a shiver, and
intelligent enough to make you care about the young roadsters.
Recommendations: Candy canes, corn on the cob and pink champagne.