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Road Trip Blu-ray Review

Road Trip (2000) movie poster Road Trip

Theatrical Release: May 19, 2000 / Running Time: 94 Minutes / Rating: R (Theatrical), Unrated (Extended)

Director: Todd Phillips / Writers: Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong / Songs List

Cast: Breckin Meyer (Josh Parker), Seann William Scott (E.L.), Amy Smart (Beth Wagner), Paulo Costanzo (Rubin Carver), DJ Qualls (Kyle Edwards), Rachel Blanchard (Tiffany Henderson), Anthony Rapp (Jacob), Fred Ward (Earl Edwards), Tom Green (Barry Manilow), Andy Dick (Motel Clerk), Ethan Suplee (Ed), Horatio Sanz (French Toast Guy), Rhoda Griffis (Tour Group Mom), Marla Sucharetza (Sperm Bank Nurse K Lewis), Ellen Albertini Dow (Mrs. Manilow), Edmund Lyndeck (Jack Manilow), Jessica Cauffiel (The Wrong Tiffany Henderson), Kohl Sudduth (Mark), Wendell B. Harris, Jr. (Professor Anderson), Rini Bell (Carla), Jaclyn DeSantis (Heather), Aliya Campbell (Wendy), Patricia Gaul (Cookie Edwards), Richie Dye (Duffy), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Blind Brenda), Avery Kidd Waddell (Jeff), Mia Amber Davis (Rhonda), Jimmy Kimmel (voice of Corky the Dog), Todd Barry (Campus Security #1), Matt Walsh (Crime Scene Photographer), Todd Phillips (Foot Lover)

Buy Road Trip on Blu-ray exclusively at Best Buy / Buy from Amazon.com: Unrated DVD Instant Video

Though you couldn't have known it then and you wouldn't suspect it now, 2000's Road Trip is a meeting of two of the most successful comedy directors in modern film. Executive producer Ivan Reitman was behind some of the biggest movies of the 1980s including Stripes, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and both Ghostbusters movies.
Director and co-writer Todd Phillips would go on to helm the record-setting The Hangover and its highly profitable sequel.

While Reitman's first hit as producer, National Lampoon's Animal House, was mentioned in Road Trip's marketing campaign, there's much more of Phillips than of Reitman in this film. In fact, Phillips' first traditional narrative feature fits perfectly into the arc of his career both thematically and creatively. His previous effort was the Sundance-premiered, hour-long Frat House (1998), a documentary that HBO opted not to air over questions of its authenticity. Road Trip would move Phillips to scripted fare, but keep him fixed on college, specifically the rowdy parts of it.

Raunch and recklessness have remained two of the director's trademarks. The films have become increasingly sophisticated cinematically and the characters are older and a tad more mature. But the success of The Hangover owes much to the maintained interest in men behaving badly. While maybe not expansive in his tastes, Phillips has nonetheless shown tremendous growth as a filmmaker. Just about every one of his theatrical releases has improved upon the one before it, from the tolerable Old School to the diverting Starsky & Hutch to the overlooked School for Scoundrels to the solid original Hangover and on par Due Date. Whether the unimaginative retread of The Hangover Part II is an isolated miss or a sign that Phillips is tapering off remains to be seen, but either way it's extremely rare for filmmakers to consistently better themselves.

The guys' cross-country road trip hits a snag when Kyle's car goes up in flames.

Of course, that slope suggests Road Trip is a low point and that is absolutely correct. Lacking the flair and polish of his later works as well as most of the comedic sharpness, Road Trip is a fairly worthless entry to the R-rated college comedy tradition. Co-scripted by writing partner Scot Armstrong, this millennial romp centers on Josh Porter (Breckin Meyer), a student at upstate New York's fictional University of Ithaca. For as long as he can remember, Josh has been the friend, then boyfriend of a girl named Tiffany Henderson (Rachel Blanchard). Their relationship has been tested by distance; Tiffany is getting a veterinarian's education at the also fictitious University of Austin.

Josh is worried that Tiffany isn't being faithful to him, especially when she goes off-radar for a few days. During those days, he hooks up with Beth (Amy Smart), a totally interested classmate. They record their night of passion on video and wouldn't you know it is that sex tape, and not Josh's intended video greeting, that is mailed off to Tiffany by accident. Regretting his indiscretion all the more when he finds out a death in the family has kept Tiffany out of contact, Josh comes up with the only plan he can: a New York to Texas weekend road trip to intercept the package before she can see the tape.

Joining him on the cross-country quest: horny party animal E.L. (Seann William Scott), who encouraged the infidelity; rail-thin wimp Kyle (DJ Qualls), who reluctantly lends his car; and brainy stoner Rubin (Paulo Costanzo). Staying back is the gang's odd pal Barry (Tom Green), a seventh year student who serves as infrequent storyteller on an uninformative campus tour, a design that doesn't really work but does maximize Green's involvement at the height of his brief, MTV-fueled fame.

Despite the title, not all that much time is spent on the road. The movie repeatedly stages setbacks and wacky stops to extend and spice up the journey. Kyle's car gets totally wrecked trying to make a jump, leading E.L. to steal a bus from a school for the blind (hardy har har). The guys use a secret handshake to crash a Tennessee fraternity they only later discover is for black students. They spend a night with Barry's grandparents, one of whom (Edmund Lyndeck) shares a toke and a Viagra erection with them. When they run out of cash, of course they decide to donate to a sperm bank.

A few subplots help bring this to an ordinary runtime. Displaying good girlfriend potential, a concerned Beth boards a bus to follow Josh. Too bad she heads to Boston, not Austin. Meanwhile, Kyle's overbearing father (Fred Ward) is troubled by his son's apparent disappearance and the police investigation into it.

When he's not relaying the story as campus tour guide, Barry Manilow (Tom Green) toys with a mouse whom he anticipates feeding to Rubin's pet snake. Without the sexual advances and videographic skills of Beth Wagner (Amy Smart), there would be no road trip and no movie.

I've been greatly desensitized by the last few years' worth of envelope-pushing hard-R comedies, but I didn't find Road Trip anywhere near over-the-top in its outrageousness. It's tough to imagine a filled theater overcome with shock at any of the antics here, compared to what The Hangover and Judd Apatow's racier excursions have offered. Were "Ohhhs" uttered at Grandpa's boner or the sight of a skinny white boy losing his virginity to a massive black girl in leopard print underwear?
Perhaps. I have trouble believing that such gags draw big laughs outside of large crowds and party viewings. They're just not that funny. You can compare such moments to ones in The Hangover, but there are bold personalities and an involving mystery to heighten those. Here, it's just college guys being dumb, because, you know, that's what college guys do. In movies, at least.

Road Trip grossed $68.5 M domestically in its summer 2000 release during the bustling early days of DreamWorks Pictures' self-distribution. That might not sound like much compared to the $100-$300 M Phillips' latest comedies have earned in North America alone. But it was a solid number and four times the budget. By comparison, three years later, Old School would gross just a little more domestically and much less overseas. And that was a movie with some household name actors (who were about to become a full-fledged cinema movement as the so-called Frat Pack), not just a bunch of young faces you might recognize from high school movies like Clueless and American Pie.

Road Trip's numbers weren't strong enough to defy logic with a sequel, although rights holder Paramount did go back to the well during their seemingly subsided, ill-advised direct-to-video phase under the Paramount Famous Productions banner. In 2009, on the heels of Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling and Van Wilder: Freshman Year came Road Trip: Beer Pong, with two returning cast members (Qualls and, reprising "Tour Group Mom", Rhoda Griffis) in supporting roles.

Later this month, twelve years after its theatrical debut, the original Road Trip becomes the latest Paramount movie released to Blu-ray as a Best Buy exclusive. Like most of those that have come before it, this release recycles the movie's DVD extras. For Road Trip, the studio also does the decent thing by providing both the film's theatrical and unrated cuts, heretofore only sold separately.

The differences between the two editions, however, are absurdly minor. The extended version runs a mere 31 seconds longer and elongates just the first minute of Chapter 9, set in the Ithaca girls' communal bathroom. It adds a few lines of dialogue (four words of which are not synched up to any mouth movements) and a bit of nudity, zooming in on two topless speakers' breasts and cutting to a short shot of two fully nude coeds. Clearly, this wasn't cut to avoid an NC-17, which makes the unrated DVD's "The Version You Couldn't See in Theaters" claim pretty weak. Naturally, these two edits are achieved by seamless branching, conserving a tremendous deal of disc space.

Road Trip Blu-ray cover art - click to buy exclusively from Best Buy Blu-ray Disc Details

1.78:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; Film only: English SDH
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: May 15, 2012 (Best Buy exclusive)
Suggested Retail Price: $22.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50) / Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Still available as Unrated DVD ($8.99 SRP, 2000), Unrated Double Feature DVD ($14.98 SRP, 2007) with Euro Trip, Road Trip Trilogy Unrated Triple "D" Collection DVD ($19.99 SRP, 2011) with Euro Trip and Road Trip: Beer Pong, and Amazon Instant Video
Previously released as R-Rated DVD (December 2000)

VIDEO and AUDIO

I'm still getting used to the idea that a movie from 2000 can show its age, but you can tell that Road Trip is not a brand new production. It's faint and tough to put a finger on, but something about the colors or film stock ever so slightly dates the picture. The Blu-ray's video and audio quality are pretty terrific nonetheless. Phillips' penchant for letting licensed music dominate certain scenes was already in place and such potent moments stand out in the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio, without making you reach for the remote to adjust volume levels. Neither of the applicable senses is given any major concern and Paramount kindly subtitles everything in four different languages (five counting the movie's dedicated SDH English stream).

Tom Green holds the microphone a little too close to director Todd Phillips' mouth in the making-of short "Ever Been on a Road Trip?" Jim Gaffigan plays a strange state trooper who pulls over Josh in this deleted scene.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The modest slate of extras, standard definition unless otherwise noted, kicks off with "Ever Been On a Road Trip?" (4:55), a slight and promotional but fun making-of short, in which Tom Green playfully interviews his cast mates and crew members about the film.

A reel of deleted scenes (10:54) presents eight excisions in windowboxed widescreen. There's some interesting material here: two more stops on Barry's tour, a University of Boston sorority hazing, an appearance by Jim Gaffigan as a weird state trooper, a dreamy midnight visit from Amy Smart that leads to an Ellen Albertini Dow bathroom scene (more innocent than it sounds!), and two instances of Paulo Costanzo beatboxing.

The cast of "Road Trip" takes a bus ride with the two singers of Eels in their "Mr. E's Beautiful Blue" music video. Tom Green tells moviegoers his new movie is really, really good in this teaser trailer.

The fun music video for Eels' catchy (but profane) end credits song "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues" (3:53) features most of the principal cast interacting with the band (and mouthing along) in scenarios inspired by the film. There are also a few of the obligatory movie clips, along with some outtake footage.

Finally, we get three original theatrical trailers in high definition. These are more noteworthy and memorable than most previews since they include unused alternate takes and even outtakes as well as original footage of Tom Green addressing moviegoers. A domestic teaser (1:51) relies heavily on Green's address,

while two international trailers (2:12, 2:25) stay a little more conventional, although the latter of those does feature nudity and profanity. One of these is apparently a new inclusion and based on descriptions, I'd guess it's the less remarkable international one.

Not everything is carried over from Road Trip's DVDs, but the omissions are ones you rarely find employed these days. Gone are the film's DVD-ROM "outrageous interactive trivia game and screensaver", booklet and on-screen production notes, and outdated cast & crew bios. Maybe it's just the completist in me, but if I cared about the movie enough to buy the DVD and consider the Blu-ray, I might be disappointed by these casualties. You may be surprised by the lack of a blooper reel here, especially since there are a few tastes in the other features. But to date, none has been provided for Road Trip, that feature not yet being a standard comedy film DVD inclusion in 2000.

The static, silent menu simply gives us a wider version of the poster/cover art. Pop-up menus are limited in their offerings (and don't work at all over extras). As with all Paramount BDs, you can place bookmarks on the film (either cut), but don't expect to resume playback if your player powers down.

There is no slipcover atop the standard eco-friendly Blu-ray case, which wisely touts "from the director of The Hangover", stretches the limits of vanity license plates (to reflect the inclusion of both "R8D & UNR8D" versions) and features a random headless bikini-clad woman on the back.

E.L. (Seann William Scott) mans the wheel of the blind school's school bus he stole. Kyle (DJ Qualls) breaks out his dance moves at a black fraternity's party in Tennessee.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The little-known, straight-to-video Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd movie Overnight Delivery told a similar story to Road Trip two years earlier and quite a bit better. If you're in the mood for a turn-of-the-millennium college comedy, I'd recommend that. But far more have seen and enjoyed the crude ensemble adventure offered in Road Trip. Maybe you're among them. This would appear to be my generation's Animal House, but it doesn't do much for me. (For that matter, neither does Animal House.)

Paramount's Blu-ray should meet most expectations. Supplying both cuts of the film is a nice touch, although they vary less than virtually every other movie with multiple edits. The other extras are okay, the feature presentation is good, and the price is reasonable. I suspect it is a hassle to have to go through Best Buy to get this disc, and I have to wonder if the exclusivity deals are truly benefitting either the studio or the struggling retailer. But whether you get it now or wait for a wider release, you too can own Road Trip in high definition. Yay?

Buy Road Trip on Blu-ray exclusively at Best Buy

Buy Road Trip from Amazon.com:
Unrated DVD Unrated Trilogy DVD Unrated Double Feature DVD R-Rated DVD Instant Video

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DJ Qualls: Scrubs: The Complete First Season | Fred Ward: 30 Minutes or Less | Anthony Rapp: Dazed and Confused
Ethan Suplee: Boy Meets World: The Complete Third Season Remember the Titans | Andy Dick: NewsRadio: The Complete Series The Comebacks
College: Glory Daze Back to School Love Story | R-Rated Comedies: Superbad Hall Pass Bad Teacher Knocked Up Caddyshack
Road Trip Comedies: Wild Hogs College Road Trip | Best Buy Exclusive Blu-rays: Planes, Trains & Automobiles Airplane! The Ring

Road Trip Songs List: Gordon Henderson & His Midnight Music Makers - "University of Ithaca Alma Mater", Breckin Meyer - "I Got a Girl", The K.G.B. - "Fortune & Fame", Tom Green - "The Salmon Song", Black Eyed Peas - "Duet", Jungle Brothers - "Early Morning", Ash - "I'm Gonna Fall", eels - "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues", Jessica Andrews - "Heart Shaped World", Randy Travis - "Only Worse", Jungle Brothers - "Freakin' You", Ween - "Voodoo Lady", Bloodstone - "Natural High", E40 - "My Drinking Club", Run-D.M.C. - "It's Tricky", Minnie Riperton - "Inside My Love", Kid Rock featuring Uncle Kracker - "e.m.s.p.", Twisted Sister - "I Wanna Rock", Groove Armada featuring Gram'ma Funk - "I See You Baby (Fatboy Slim U.S. Guitar edit)", The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Lovin' Machine", Supergrass - "Pumping on Your Stereo", Buckcherry - "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)"

Buy Road Trip: Music from the Motion Picture from Amazon.com: CD Cassette

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Reviewed May 3, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2000 DreamWorks Pictures, The Montecito Picture Company, and 2012 Paramount Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.