Joy Ride (2001)

joyride_2001_poster
Joy Ride (2001)
  • Time: 97 min
  • Genre: Drama | Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: John Dahl
  • Cast: Steve Zahn, Paul Walker, Leelee Sobieski

Storyline:

College student Lewis decides to drive across the country to see Venna, a friend who doesn’t know that Lewis is interested in her romantically. Unfortunately for his plans, Lewis gets saddled with his raucous-spirited older brother, Fuller, whose on-the-road pranks get the brothers and Venna sucked into a nightmare when a psychotic truckdriver takes offense.

One review

  • Co-written and co-produced by J.J. Abrams, and directed by John Dahl (“The Last Seduction”, “Red Rock West”), the road thriller “Joy Ride” isn’t the most believable or probable movie of this kind that one will ever see, but it’s slickly made, and is genuinely tense often enough to make it a fun, if not remarkable view. It gets a lot of mileage out of the presence of its villain, a psychotic trucker. For the most part, he’s a voice on a CB radio, and the movie does lose something once the filmmakers start showing him on screen. The climactic action is engrossing, as is one incredibly creepy scene (heard instead of seen) in a hotel room.

    The actors certainly are capable, selling the hell out of the material at every turn. Paul Walker stars as Lewis, a nice guy who’s eager to meet up with a girl he’s interested in, Venna (Leelee Sobieski). So he cashes in his plane ticket, buys an old car, and travels cross country that way. Along the way, he bails his no-count brother Fuller (Steve Zahn) out of jail, and Fuller gets the bright idea to buy a CB radio for the car. He then gets another not-so-bright idea: play a prank on a random trucker by having Lewis impersonate a female. But things take a very dark turn, and this trucker, who dubs himself Rusty Nail, is furious at being lied to, and exacts his revenge by stalking the brothers, and Venna, once she joins them.

    Sometimes the movie is silly, sometimes laughable (admittedly this viewer couldn’t help chuckling every time Rusty Nail said the name Candy Cane, and Walkers’ attempt at a “female” voice is groan-inducing), and positively goofy (Rusty Nail orders Lewis and Fuller to waltz into a diner sans clothes). But Dahl delivers solid action and suspense, and stresses the isolation of various rural locations to great effect. Atmosphere and photography are beautiful. Walker is likable, Zahn a hoot as always, and Sobieski is cute. Appearances are made by such character players as Basil Wallace (“Marked for Death”), Jim Beaver (‘Supernatural’), Robert Winley (“Stone Cold”), and Kenneth White (“Fire in the Sky”), but the movie really belongs to the uncredited Ted Levine, who’s supremely sinister and endlessly amusing as the voice of Rusty Nail. He adds that something extra to the experience.

    Overall, this is an enjoyable “ride” to take.

    Seven out of 10

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