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Overall Rating
3.79

Awesome: 19.42%
Worth A Look52.43%
Average: 18.45%
Pretty Bad: 6.8%
Total Crap: 2.91%

7 reviews, 61 user ratings


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Joy Ride
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by Scott Weinberg

"An intense joy ride, with the ridiculously entertaining Steve Zahn up front"
4 stars

In the "road stalker" sub-genre of horror movies, a few titles stand out above the traffic. The Hitcher, Duel and Breakdown are three films in which vast expanses of American highways are the setting for some dark and frantic pursuits. You can add John Dahl's addictively entertaining Joy Ride to the list.

Dahl's affinity for exposing the underbelly of seemingly innocuous locales was evident in films like The Last Seduction and Red Rock West, and his latest effort turns a lazy cross-country drive into a manic case of cat-and-mouse survival.

Paul Walker stars as Lewis, a college man all set to fly home for the holidays. When his longtime girl/friend expresses an interest in seeing him, Lewis promptly trades his airline ticket in for a classic roadster and hits the highway. After learning that his brother Fuller has been arrested in Salt Lake City, Lewis makes the detour and bails his estranged sibling out of jail.

Once they're back on the road, Lewis and Fuller engage in some rather cruel voice pranks over their CB radio. Let's just say they end up screwing with the wrong trucker. And that's an understatement. To divulge anything further would spoil a lot of the fun and make no mistake - Joy Ride is a lot of fun.

While the screenplay (by Clay Tarver and Jeffrey Abrams) is just fresh and original enough to keep things moving, the real star of the movie is Dahl's camera. The endless stretches of highway and the seemingly harmless sound of radio static take on truly ominous tones, and the result is a movie that creeps you out in an enjoyable subtle fashion.

Several effective scenes of tension are littered throughout the film, most notable a sequence showing the brothers trying desperately to eavesdrop on a neighboring motel room. And without giving anything away at all, Joy Ride has a white-knuckled finale that will have you pulling at your clothes.

Aside from the perpetually hidden antagonist known as "Rusty Nail", Joy Ride is essentially a three-character piece. As Lewis, Paul Walker gives possibly his strongest performance to date. Without the unrealistic swagger necessary for movies like The Fast and the Furious and She's All That, Walker could prove to be a solid character actor. As the lovely Venna, Leelee Sobieski (Deep Impact, The Glass House) is quite good, although she only a few opportunities to prove it.

The performer who steals the entire film is the fantastic young actor Steve Zahn. Perhaps best known as "the funny one" from That Thing You Do!, Zahn has filled his resume with an unending string of quirky and entertaining performances in movies like Out of Sight, Suburbia and Happy, Texas. Zahn has such a sly and bemused delivery that he's simply a joy to watch.

While Joy Ride certainly isn't going to win any awards for rampant originality, Dahl and his cast deserve praise for breathing some entertaining new life into a generally stale genre. Imagine 'Jeepers Creepers' with twice the smarts and half the silliness.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4629&reviewer=128
originally posted: 10/10/01 12:38:27
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User Comments

7/11/14 kqnaigzyugu USA 3 stars
12/18/10 chaotik tom Absolutly brilliant! Loved every minute! A must see! 5 stars
4/12/09 Dane Youssef Finally! A worthwhile teen thriller! If "Duel" or "Jeepers Creepers" had actually worked! 5 stars
2/02/09 Pankaj Saksena It was a regular American Highway Thriller... but the ending was real confusing 3 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was Awesome!! Loved It. 5 stars
8/13/08 PAUL SHORTT ITS EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE AND GETS GREAT MILEAGE ON AND OFF THE HIGHWAY 3 stars
10/19/07 Total Crap Brutal. The ending was confusing and there should've been a sequel by now. 4 stars
3/28/07 Stanley Thai A suspensful thriller that doesn't insult your intelligence. 4 stars
1/28/07 David Pollastrini great action with a few comedy bits 4 stars
7/13/06 Agent Sands No Last Seduction or Kill Me Again, but it passes. 4 stars
3/11/06 Dillon Suspense thriller with all the fun of a road movie 4 stars
6/18/05 Indrid Cold A surprisingly good thriller. This will become one of those forgotten gems. 4 stars
6/21/04 Dick Logan one of the worst films ever made!! Script and acting were pitiful!! 1 stars
6/14/04 Dr. Lecter A nerve-racking little gem of a thriller 4 stars
6/02/04 R.W. Welch Mad trucker flick strains credulity but is still fun. Neatly directed. 4 stars
3/20/04 mans0n really entertaining throughout 4 stars
12/12/03 Jaron more awesome than scary... 4 stars
12/07/03 Micheal One of the greatest thrillers i've probably ever saw! 5 stars
11/04/03 American Slasher Goddess One of the best on the road thrillers in a long time. 4 stars
10/01/03 Samuel Justus A decent little horror film! 4 stars
9/18/03 HUGH not scary not anything 1 stars
9/16/03 Charles Tatum Well done, I could watch Sobieski's Leelees all day long 4 stars
9/14/03 J An addrelidine rush! 4 stars
8/12/03 adrian true funny, scary, likable characters 5 stars
6/20/03 Jenny Tullwartz Unspeakable horror, roadtrip cliches, lame acting, dumb teens - this flick has it all! 3 stars
5/28/03 Scott Howard I Loved it !!! 5 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink One of the best entertainig and exciting edge-of-your-seat thrillers of the last 5 years 5 stars
3/11/03 me GREAT 5 stars
3/09/03 Jack Sommersby A high-voltage, unnerving thriller. Dahl's command of the medium is admirable. 4 stars
1/23/03 Lisa Blundell A very scary, hide-your-face-behind-a-pillow movie. Very humorous too!! 5 stars
10/08/02 rita WHAT HAPPENED IN THE END?????!!!?? I DONT GET IT 4 stars
10/06/02 John McNew A more effective chiller than 2001 summer's "The Others" 4 stars
9/08/02 gary roberts I really didnt get the end... what happened? anyone care to explain? thanks 4 stars
8/04/02 KMG DID ANYONE UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENED IN THE END? WAS THE ICEMAN THE KILLER?OR THE FAT FUCK? 4 stars
8/02/02 Matthew Smith gripping from start to finish, a seat gliching thriller 4 stars
7/25/02 palaboy101 Reminded me of "Jeepers Creepers". You must see it on DVD... 4 alternate endings! 4 stars
6/18/02 Film Dude No Andrew, THIS MOVIE DID NOT HAVE CHEAP FUCKING THRILLS AND OVER-DONE ENDING. MORON. 4 stars
4/19/02 OH BILLY!!!!!!!!!!!! its awsome 5 stars
3/31/02 Film Guy Great Movie. not like other horror movies 5 stars
3/23/02 Andrew Carden Cheap Thrills, Average Performances, Over-Done Ending...Pretty Average Film. 3 stars
3/23/02 The Bomb 69 most thriller films have stupid characters, this one was real and the ending was awesome!! 5 stars
3/20/02 Spyguy2 Makes "The Hitcher" look like Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai"...avoid at all costs. Trust me. 1 stars
3/15/02 NWO4LIFE Entertaining and thrilling, but it played it a little too safe. One of them should've died. 4 stars
3/05/02 Jenny Tullwartz Unspeakable horror, roadtrip cliches, lame acting, dumb teens - this flick has it all! 3 stars
12/25/01 ryan starts out good but quickly turns into crap 2 stars
12/15/01 Flora(szflora@matavnet.hu) I love this movie!Steve and Paul are very sexy!:)) 5 stars
12/03/01 natasha very good worth the time 5 stars
11/29/01 Kelly i'm buyin the video just for that beautiful scene of Paul Walkers ASS! 5 stars
11/21/01 daniboy very enjoyable. scary enough. steve zahn is funny as hell 5 stars
11/02/01 Gay Tooth Fairy lots of fun. Ted Levine has a great villain voice. 4 stars
11/02/01 pipeman Great fun. It deserved to do better at the box office. Look for this movie and see it. 5 stars
10/21/01 Greyjack Very good flick.Steve Zahn kicked ass again. The guy's got two solid movies out this month. 4 stars
10/18/01 Sarah Regelin Awesome movie, it was soo scary Paul Walker is so good looking 5 stars
10/15/01 Schmidty72 100 times better than Jeepers Creepers. If you like "Duel", then you'll like this flick. 4 stars
10/15/01 Geebo A fun movie, very entertaining. 5 stars
10/14/01 specialK good stuff - have to suspend reality for some scenes 4 stars
10/13/01 Black Sheep Eric Snider said it exactly. Unusually level-headed, w/laughs and scares. & Paul Walker =^) 5 stars
10/12/01 Connor Dueck suspensful as hell. if only all new thrillers could be this good 4 stars
10/11/01 masin wolliams VERY SIMPLE AND EASY TO SWALLOW PLOT, LOOKS LIKE A MADE FOR TV MOVIE. MINDLESS BUT FUN 3 stars
10/10/01 GIBBO A great romp - more funny than suspenseful - but a great movie all the same. 4 stars
10/07/01 Chuck and Fran All the characters reactions in the movie were believable. Comparable to "Duel" by Spielber 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  05-Oct-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  25-Jul-2002


Directed by
  John Dahl

Written by
  Clay Tarver
  Jeffrey Abrams

Cast
  Leelee Sobieski
  Steve Zahn
  Matthew Kimbrough
  Brien Varady
  Paul Walker
  Jim Beaver



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