Published May 01, 2000In the new gross-out college comedy, Road Trip, four buddies pile into a car with the intention of driving from Ithaca, New York to Austin, Texas to retrieve a copy of a videotape of a young co-ed, played by Amy Smart (Ruby from TV's Felicity), taking her top off. Well, actually it's not that simple, but the image of Amy Smart taking off her top seemed like an important event to be noted, since that's one of the reasons guys go to movies like this. The other attractions for the "man I was so wasted" crowd include the requisite gags about nerds, fat chicks, weed and stuff getting destroyed. Some of these jokes work like gangbusters, thanks to a couple of brave cast members (notably Tom Green, and geeky, inbred newcomer D. J. Qualls, who looks like something out of a Harmony Korine movie), but more often than not, the comedy is about as flat as old soda pop.
Road Trip was directed by Todd Phillips who has previously made a name for himself with a handful of edgy documentaries including Screwed (about pornographer Al Goldstein), Hated (about GG Allin), and the controversial Frat House, an all-access expose of fraternity hazing rituals that won a prize at Sundance. Phillips may have an insider's understanding of the extremes of male bonding rituals, but his comic sensibility is blunt and uninspired. There's a jaw-droppingly ill-conceived scene in which the guys almost pee themselves in fear upon entering the dining hall of an all-black fraternity. What the hell kind of audience response is that supposed to elicit? There's also a dunder-headed joke about a grandfather who has a permanent Viagra erection and smokes reefer with the best of them. If there's a lamer form of comedy than having old codgers embracing rebellious youth culture, I'm not aware of it. Remember the rappin' granny from The Wedding Singer?
I'm sure a lot of these jokes probably looked good on paper (at about three o'clock in the morning), but they're haphazardly thrown up on the screen, possibly expecting some kind of Pavlovian response from the audience ("the skinny guy's gettin' it on with the fat chick! Wooo-hooo!"). I'll give this movie points for the gross-out French toast scene (you don't wanna know where it's been), and for smartly using the off-beat comedic rhythms of Ottawa native Tom Green, who absolutely aces every scene he's in. He spends most of the movie trying to coax a boa constrictor to eat an adorable little white mouse (in frustration, Green attempts to devour it himself). The rest of the cast is peppered with faces I've seen in other interchangeable teen comedies. Sean William Scott is funny if only for his consistently lewd and nasty facial expressions, but the lead role is forgettably played by a Bill Maher look-alike named Breckin Meyer. His girlfriend, Tiffany, is played by Rachel Blanchard (Cher from the TV series Clueless), but that hardly seems worth noting since she doesn't actually drop the laundry at any point.