E very day, people's lives are affected by the people they run into, things they see and hear, food they eat and experiences encountered. But there is one time and place that has more impact than any other in shaping our lives college. Yes, those chaotic years of mental struggle between intellectual and desirable self-improvement, the intermingling of which creates a jumbled mess of hormones, toxins and Cliff's Notes that can only be related to college. Anyone who has made an effort to engage the timeless traditions of college life can probably tell you that the some of their most memorable experiences were not in the dorm but on a road trip.
Writer/Director Todd Phillips revisits the days of old with his new comedy film, Road Trip. Road Trip centers on Josh Porter [Breckin Meyer The Insider, Go, several others], a struggling undergraduate who is self-chastised by his commitment to a life-long, long-distance relationship with Tiffany [Rachel Blanchard Sugar and Spice (2000), The Rage: Carrie 2 and others]. Josh tries to keep the spark alive by making personalized, video-taped messages for Tiffany and mailing them to her. But things begin to go south when Josh's buddy, E.L. [Seann William Scott The In Crowd (2000), Final Destination and American Pie], talks him into going to a party where he makes an unexpected connection with Beth [Amy Smart Outside Providence, Varsity Blues, Starship Troopers and more], an attractive, assertive, and more importantly local - girl. The clothes hit the floor as the video tape rolls, and all goes well until the next morning. As a favor to Josh who rushes out, late for class, his friend Rubin [Paulo Costanzo Strike! (1998)] promises to send off his latest video-message to Tiffany in the mail, but Murphy's Law prevails: the worst possible tape was sent in its place undeniable evidence of Beth. So the race was on: 3 days to get to Austin, Texas from Ithaca, New York. Josh teams up with E.L., Rubin and their "friend", Kyle Edwards [DJ Qualls Cherry Falls (2000)] (who happens to be the only one among them with a car), to intercept the illustriously recorded sins of Josh before they fall into the hands of his love, Tiffany. With high hopes and low cash, together they set off on an unforgettable voyage.
Unsurprisingly, at the production level, this film contained just that: no surprises. With a story that a ten-year-old could follow (if it weren't for the profanity, nudity and drug use!), camera work that is as basic as it gets with no artistry whatsoever, an easily forgettable soundtrack (I forget what was in it .), and acting which could very well have been these people just being themselves, Road Trip doesn't strike a gold mine of intelligent film producing. I find myself thinking that it's a shame that an R-rated film, which for the most part requires age 18 for admittance, isn't a bit smarter somehow, catering to the intellect of a more mature audience. Instead, this film is a mindless tune-out that you don't have to think about or pay attention to in order to enjoy. Now, Road Tripis funny, but not for everyone. This film contains an onslaught of sexual humor and "shockers", the abundance of which I think has never before been seen. Admittedly, there is a certain hilarity to this flick that is undeniable, however I find the overwhelming saturation of these "shockers" to be somewhat disturbing. Have comedy films come so far that truly everything original is used up like rock & roll beats in music? I prefer to think not. Yet this movie pounds forward with material that would only grab at the dirty-minded. Is it inappropriate? Well I wouldn't go so far as to say that; ironically, Road Trip seems to make the inappropriate appropriate, but it is most certainly more than some care for. The movie leaves me longing for the days of clean, original comedy which doesn't have to stoop to nothing but trashy slapstick, sex and drug oriented jokes.
For what this movie is, I see the acting as being "not bad at all." Quite a bit of the material could be played out quite naturally with the right actors who already match the persona. Having had relatively short film careers up to now, the majority of the starring actors in this film do not have a whole lot of history available as a basis for comparison to gauge the level of "naturalness" for any given part. With that in mind, I give props to the cast for a convincing and well-played performance that clearly showed a natural connection between them that certainly developed both on and off stage. It's one thing to be a decent actor who can play the part of a long-term friend; it's another thing to actually be friends going into a part. There's a whole different sensation. The way that Meyer, Scott, Costanzo and Qualls share the screen shows a genuine affinity that just can't be matched by randomly placed actors just doing a day's work. This fellowship enhanced the film whose story lies rooted in the friendship between them.
So, I guess what it comes down to is this: if you dig the dirty humor in the likes of American Pie or Something About Mary, then you'll probably get a kick out of Road Trip. Sure, I liked it I was laughing too. Rolling, in fact. But when I left the show, I somehow felt "stupider." It's not exactly the cerebral, edge-of-your-seat thriller that would generally leave you with a better feeling after leaving. But here it is a couple days after the showing and I still find myself laughing at some memorable moments, so who knows? you might like it too.