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ROAD TRIP

Reviewed by Alex Haberstroh

Stars:  Breckin Meyer, Seann William Scott, Amy Smart, Paulo Constanzo, DJ Qualls, Tom Green
Director:  Todd Philips
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1,
English 2.0 Surround, DTS 5.1
Video: 
1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio:  DreamWorks
Features:  See Review
Length:  95 Minutes
Release Date:  December 19, 2000

Film ***

Those who are, or have been in college, know the value of the occasional journey into the unknown.  An adventure that allows an exhausted student temporary freedom from the "college grind"This journey, more commonly known simply as the “road trip,” is one of the fundamental experiences in college as much as waking up next to someone you really wish you hadn’t.  All in all though, the road trip provides many undoubtedly memorable people and experiences funny enough to warrant treatment in a movie.

Seizing this idea, Writer/Director Todd Philips gambles his movie’s premise on it.  The story of Road Trip begins at Ithaca University.  Josh (Meyer) and his girlfriend Tiffany, having gone out since they were five, are now going to schools over 1,800 miles apart, and the relationship is starting to suffer.  Josh, tormented by paranoia that Tiffany is unfaithful, ends up sleeping with Beth (Smart), after he doesn’t hear from Tiffany for a week.  The problem is though, Beth taped the encounter and it mistakenly got sent to, you guessed it, Tiffany.  Mortified, Josh enlists the help of party animal E.L. (Scott), his roommate Rubin (Contanzo), and the incredibly squirrelly Kyle (Qualls), to intercept the tape in Texas before Tiffany can see it.  Making things more interesting, the entire story is told through the insane antics of Tom Green as tour guide Barry Manilow (Yeah, you heard that right).

So does Road Trip succeed?  I believe it does.  What make this comedy successful are a few important things, chief among them the strength of the characters and the acting.  While you wouldn’t guess that this issue would be a factor in a movie that’s in the American Pie vein, a movie like this lives and dies by the characters in it.  For example, does anyone doubt that Animal House would be the same without John Belushi?

I believe the comedic performances are dead-on, from the very wonderful and always zany Tom Green, to relative newcomers Scott, Smart, Contanzo and Qualls.  The characters’ chemistry together makes the film interesting to watch because the actors are so comfortable working with each other, a factor which is critical for any movie, but especially a comedy.  Second, the lines and situations delivered are both funny and constant.  The worst thing that can happen to a comedy is to have a few good ideas but continue the joke beyond the point when anyone’s laughing.  In this film, Philips is able to keep the pace constantly moving; whether a slow or fast scene, he always keeps the viewer entertained.

Video ***

Once again DreamWorks shows their ability to succeed, always providing both a stellar transfer and having it in Anamorphic.  I see no problems visually with this disc at all, which is nice because many studios treat comedies horribly just because they think no one will care about the picture as long as “bigger” movies like Independence Day or MI:2 look good.

Audio ***

My heart just warms when I hear of DreamWorks.  Only they would include both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks, but also one in DTS for something so aurally basic as a comedy.  The music and dialogue are crisp, accurate, and well done, with most of the sound coming from the front soundstage except for music. 

To tell the truth, in terms of rating which track is better between the Dolby and DTS versions, both the DD 5.1 and the DTS fare about the same.  The only small difference I noticed was the slightly better bass on the DTS track after the “car explosion scene.”  Because it’s a comedy, this isn’t meant to be a reference quality “house-shaker.” 

Features ****

When I heard I would be reviewing the “Uncut and Uncensored” version of Road Trip I wondered what more mature content they could add.  After all, having seen the film in theaters, I realized that the film’s content was already as raunchy as American Pie.  As it turns out, the good people at DreamWorks have provided a few extra moments of cut scenes.  So, what are they?  Sadly, the footage consists mostly of gratuitous nudity (I know, shame on them!).

While not a “Signature Selection” disc, this disc still offers a nice selection of goodies for an affordable price.  Included first is “Road Kill,” a selection of deleted scenes that are mostly superfluous, “Ever Been on a Road Trip?,” a five minute behind the scenes featurette hosted by Tom Green, and a music video entitled “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues.”  Also included on the disc are cast and crew bios, production notes, two theatrical trailers, and a trivia game (for those who have DVD-ROMS).

Summary:

In conclusion, Road Trip is both an amusing and enjoyable comedy that is best suited for teenagers and those in their early twenties.  A great movie to watch with friends, this is a solid disc worth a spin.