“Road Trip” really, really wants to be the next “There’s Something About Mary”: a gross-out teen comedy that is critically praised for its outrageous, albeit crass, humor. The only thing stopping it is the fact that it’s not funny, largely because it doesn’t chart any new territory. We’ve been grossed-out before, and in ways far more clever than the ones here.
There’s an old man who takes Viagra and smokes pot! Someone steals something from a blind person! The nerdy college student finally has sex! Sometimes you can overlook offensiveness because it’s so taboo-breaking, it’s funny. But these taboos have already been broken by other movies. Now it’s just rehashing stuff we’ve seen before, and instead of laughing at it, we revert back to our original reaction of being either disgusted or bored by it.
University of Ithaca student Josh (Breckin Meyer) is trying to carry on a long-distance relationship with childhood sweetheart Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard), who is at college in Austin. Josh’s stereotypically horny friend E.L. (Seann William Scott, last seen being decapitated — and not soon enough — in “Final Destination”) encourages Josh to give up the idea of fidelity, however, and make hay while the sun is shining.
To that end, Josh gives in to the advances of the nubile Beth (Amy Smart) at a college party. He even agrees to let her videotape the sexual proceedings; that tape, naturally, is then accidentally mailed to Tiffany.
The dilemma now? How to apologize to Tiffany for the unfaithfulness? How to explain to Beth that this was just a one-time thing? How to regain some sense of dignity after such an embarrassing mistake?
No! The dilemma is how to get to Austin before the tape does, and keep Tiffany from receiving it! So Josh, E.L., and Josh’s pot-smoking roommate Rubin (Paulo Costanzo) convince freshman nerd Kyle (DJ Qualls) to take his car and drive to Austin.
Before long, they destroy the car in a sequence that hints at the sort of manic fun a movie like this COULD contain. The characters and their contrasts work well against each other, making it a nice ensemble piece … for that one scene. Apart from that, the characters are all either non-descript (like Josh, our hero, whom we know nothing about, not even his major), or generic (like the nerd Kyle who does everything in a nerdy way and eventually triumphs over his nerdiness by having random sex and is therefore no longer a nerd).
To get to Austin, the foursome steals a bus from a school for the blind; to make some cash, they sell their sperm at a sperm bank; and their pal Barry (Tom Green, MTV’s latest crime against humanity) stays back at the dorms and licks a mouse before feeding it to a snake. (There’s not enough mouse-licking in films these days.)
Tom Green’s presence in the movie is completely unnecessary, though that might go without saying. His character is the narrator of the story, but other than that, he interacts only slightly with his classmates. And yet, his brand of deadpan stupidity is about the only funny thing in the movie. His MTV show wears thin after one or two viewings, but in small doses, his penchant for doing something asinine — and then continuing to do it for much, much longer than you’d think he would — can be very entertaining.
But when your only funny character is the one who could be omitted entirely without changing anything, you know your movie’s in trouble.
“Road Trip” is aimed at teen-agers, but they shouldn’t see it. It’s far too crass and filthy, with way too much sex and nudity; besides, none of the characters learns anything, and the ultimate “moral” of the story (avoid responsibility, lie, and follow your hormones) is not one you’d want your kids embracing.
Too filthy for teens, too unfunny for adults. This movie has no audience. So long, “Road Trip.”
D+ (; )