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Joy Ride
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Joy Ride More at IMDbPro »

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51 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Transcends its flaws to earn a "B"

Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City
21 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker) buys a car to pick up would-be girlfriend Venna (Leelee Sobieski) from college in Colorado, he learns that his brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn), was jailed on a misdemeanor charge in Salt Lake City. So he decides to pick up his brother first. During a pit stop, Fuller has a mechanic install a CB radio. They joke around with truckers, going so far as posing as a woman and setting up a false date with one. When the prank turns to tragedy, the trucker seeks revenge.

For the most part, Joy Ride is an enjoyable horror/thriller. It is loaded with tension and it's easy for viewers to picture themselves in the scenario, as it's relatively realistic. The horror is formed from everyday situations, where just a couple bad decisions can lead one into the sights of a madman.

However, I had to subtract two points for something I very rarely subtract points for--"stupid decisions" on the part of protagonists. Of course, some people think that horror films are primarily based on characters making stupid decisions, but in my view of the genre, even if such actions are clichéd, filmmakers generally justify such decisions at least in the context of the film. Too often in Joy Ride, writers Clay Tarver and J.J. Abrams, along with director John Dahl, make little attempt at justification. Why don't they just turn the CB off? Why don't they just ignore the villain? Why don't they call the police? Why don't they stay in places that are more populated (like the truckstop)? Why do they keep trusting the villain? While there are some cursory answers to a few of these questions, taken together, you keep wondering, "In the film's world, how can someone so stupid be in college?"

One possible answer is suggested by the Joy Ride DVD. It contains a 29-minute alternate ending that thankfully has a bit of commentary from both the director and the writer. The alternate ending is just is good as the theatrical version, in my opinion, and tries to put a slightly more logical spin on the film. Our heroes do end up at a police station, with some police cooperation. However, it was apparently felt that this alternate (actually the original) ending "didn't work" and "didn't maintain tension". Abrams felt that involving the police more directly in the plot removed too much of the focus from our heroes. Dahl also states that he thought there was too much character development in the original ending. I beg to differ on all of those points. Although the revised ending has many positive aspects not found in the original--especially a Rube Goldberg-like scenario involving maximum, immediate risk and creating maximum tension, the original ending may have worked better overall in my opinion.

But Joy Ride is good enough overall to transcend stupid decisions on the part of the characters. If seen as a sequence of high-tension scenarios, where logical plot connectors are only secondary to creating thrilling rides, Joy Ride almost deserves an A (a 9 in my rating system). There isn't a scenario in the film that's not smart and inventive in some way. The three principles--Walker, Zahn and Sobieski--give good performances, and the villain is masterfully done by Matthew Kimbrough (who provided the body), Ted Levine (who provided the bizarre, creepy voice), and Dahl, who wisely shows glimpses of him, but only glimpses. The villain is almost supernatural in his cleverness, strength and obsession. It's just too bad that we haven't had a sequel yet.

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50 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

A surprisingly engrossing and effective thriller. Not all that original but extremely entertaining.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
13 January 2003

It would be very easy to overlook 'Roadkill' (the title 'Joy Ride' is known by here in Australia), especially considering the leads are mainly known for asinine teen movies. But dig a little deeper and you will see that it is directed by the underrated John Dahl, also responsible for the crackerjack thriller 'Red Rock West' a decade ago. Paul Walker ('The Skulls') is very effective as your average joe college kid, and Steve Zahn ('Out Of Sight') is even better as his smart ass older brother. Zahn is a talented comic often better than the movies he appears in, and he is in fine form here. The chemistry between the two is believable and amusing without becoming tired. Leelee Sobieski ('Eyes Wide Shut') has yet to make much of an impact on me, and there's very little to change that here. She is passable but little more than eye candy as Walker's potential love interest. The real star of the movie is the mysterious and frightening trucker Rusty Nail ('The Silence Of The Lambs' Ted Levine). Of course the whole scenario is hugely indebted to Spielberg's suspense classic 'Duel', but Dahl and co. manage to put a fresh and exiting spin on familiar material. 'Roadkill' won't change your life, but it is a genuinely exciting and effective thriller, a real rarity in Hollywood these days. Hitchcock it ain't but it's a very entertaining popcorn movie with plenty of thrills and twists. Recommended.

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40 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Pretty intense thriller

Author: abgkasjlkasjla from Denmark
22 February 2004

The idea of this movie is actually pretty good; two teenagers do a prank call on a CB radio, but the prank turns on them. Most teenagers have probably been in a situation where they themselves made a prank call. At the very least, everyone knows about it. The film has some excellent shocks throughout the movie, and all of the 'thrilling' sequences are very intense, sometimes bordering on the extreme. The plot is pretty good, even pretty original, as far as I know. The acting is good enough. The characters are believable and their actions are understandable, most of the time. The movie has some very good cinematography and some pretty good cinematic effects. The ending, though a bit far-fetched, was the perfect way to end it, in my opinion. I couldn't have imagined a better way to end it. I recommend this to pretty much any teen who enjoys thrillers, especially the ones who like to relate to the theme and plot. Nearly every teenager in the world can in some way relate to at least one of the main characters in this film. 7/10

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29 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Scary Road Thriller Somewhat Reminiscent of "The Hitcher".

Author: Robert_Lovelace from New York, NY, United States
15 February 2007

"Joy Ride" is an extremely entertaining road-set horror/thriller that was surprisingly quite good. The film is about Lewis (Paul Walker), a college coed who decides to buy himself a car and take off across the desert to pick up a would-be-girlfriend, Venna (Leelee Sobieski) in Colorado for a road trip together. He then learns that his older troubled brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn) has been arrested in Salt Lake City, so he picks him up on the way. After having a CB radio installed into the car, the two take off to pick up Venna, but end up pulling a prank on an anonymous trucker who goes by the name of "Rusty Nail" (excellently voiced by Ted Levine) on the CB radio. After the trucker learns about the prank, he attacks the brothers with his large semi, but they manage to escape. But soon after they pick up Venna, the menacing truck driver begins harassing them again, seeking revenge for the joke they decided to play on him - he'll stop at nothing to get it, and he's looking for more than an apology.

Reminiscent of "The Hitcher" in quite a few ways, but also a much different film, "Joy Ride" was a surprise for me. I was expecting something along the lines of your typical teenage-horror fare, and I was pleasantly surprised with this intelligent and heart-pounding little thriller of a film. To start off, the story in itself is very nicely written and manages to avoid clichés. The characters in this film are smart, and the audience is rooting for them the entire way through. There are some excellently orchestrated thrill sequences, one of them being the really intense chase through the cornfield, among others, and these scenes are sure to get you on the edge of your seat.

Tension builds slowly during the first 40 minutes or so, and from there it just goes rampant. The cast is led by Paul Walker, who hasn't accomplished anything too amazing, but manages to lead the film well and play his character believably. Steve Zahn in his quirky and funny older brother, and plays the part suitably. Leelee Sobieski plays the intuitive girl-next-door friend who ends up along for the ride, and she also gives a worthy performance. The psycho-trucker villain of the film is very scary, never really seen - we get to know him through the frightening conversations on the CB radio, where he makes numerous threats and has many disturbing confrontations with the group of friends. Ted Levine, who played the notorious Buffalo Bill in "The Silence of the Lambs" voices the psychopath, and his voice itself is creepy enough, and adds to the villain's overall demeanor. The ending was excellent, and I loved how ominous it was. I really didn't see it coming, and it concluded on a very unnerving note.

Overall, "Joy Ride" is a superior action-filled horror/thriller that came as a big surprise to me. It was intelligent, tense, scary, and very well-written, which was nice because of my semi-low (no pun intended) expectations going into it. People who enjoyed "The Hitcher" will more than likely also enjoy this road trip from hell. Very well done and worth seeing for both horror and thriller fans alike. 8/10.

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35 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Sometimes, the Earth changes directions and I like a film such as this

Author: Agent10 from Tucson, AZ
26 May 2002

This turned out to be one the few movies I liked that was geared toward a teen audience. Steve Zahn and Paul Walker weren't natural in the roles as brothers, which embodied the very nature of their relationship. While the story became rather convoluted near the end, Rusty Nail's voice and detached presence brought some actual fear to the heart of the viewer. While the sound editing made this film, the relatively simple yet complex plot really turned this film into a satisfying movie experience.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

"How about that one 'Candy Cane', cum'on...break, break!"

Author: George Parker from Orange County, CA USA
12 March 2002

In "Joy Ride", two brothers (Zhan & Walker) get involved with a big rig driver over the CB radio while on the open road. They set him up as a practical joke and unleash all hell on themselves as the unseen subject of their prank, known only as "Rusty Nail", turns out to be a maniacal killer. "Joy Ride" is a well crafted thriller which methodically builds suspense while avoiding the usual gore and guts of horror flicks. With only a few plot holes, this thriller should keep most on the edge of their seats. Worth a look especially for those who enjoyed "Duel" (circa 1971) which is now circulating on cable.

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27 out of 43 people found the following review useful:


Author: ajaws4ever from United States
24 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An intense action/horror/thriller directed by John Dahl that stars Steve Zahn (Stuart Little 2, Sahara), Paul Walker (2 Fast 2 Furious, Into the Blue), and Leelee Sobieski (The Glass House, Eyes Wide Shut).

This movie is one of the most intense and most psychologically frightening movies ever made, that includes a shocking surprise ending. I'm surprised Wes Craven didn't direct this film, it would have been twice as scary. But John Dahl did a very good job. It is so freaky and so intensely strong that my heart kept racing. Each action/horror sequence kept eclipsing the last. Each thrill gets more thrilling and more shocking as time goes on. Joy Ride is a film everyone that's over the age of 12 will enjoy. I say 12 because it is extremely intense and there is some nasty violence in this film that might not be suitable for people under the age of 12.

Without giving too much away, I can only say never buy a crappy forty dollar C.B. and prank call anyone you don't know. Bad things could happen. And believe me, this guy is very dangerous and does not like to be messed with, little do Lewis (Walker) and Fuller (Zahn) Thomas, and Lewis's girlfriend, Venna (Sobieski) know. Mwahahahahahahahaha!

My tip...NEVER EVER PRANK SOMEBODY YOU DON'T KNOW! Joy Ride is a weirdly named title, and yet it isn't. I think it partly isn't because I can't think of a better name for it, so, yet, I think it's a pretty good title.

**** out of **** stars.


Original MPAA rating: R: Violence/Terror and Language

My MPAA rating: R: Intense Sequences of Violence and Terror, Strong Language, and Male Nudity.

My Canadian Rating: 14A: Violence, Frightening Scenes, Nudity

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A nice well made B-movie, a little winner!

Author: wmjahn from Austria
6 September 2006

After KILL ME AGAIN and RED ROCK WEST director Dahl has again made a nice good-looking, really thrilling little B-movie! He must have watched DUEL (which is still better, maybe the best S. Spielberg movie ever, and rates 10/10) and has added something here and there. The Trauma Spielberg handled in his movie is not to be found in here, but it's still and nevertheless a highly enjoyable, also well photographed movie with believable actors and a nice twisted ending (improbable, yes, but still nice). Whereas in DUEL one just had the man (Dennis Weaver is his best movie) and a truck (without the driver ever to be seen), Dahl added more characters and a more visible (actually audible) driver + police, etc, but the basic plot, people running away from mad truck/driver, is left intact. I just wish more such movies would still be made today ...

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

One helluva ride

Author: andyman618 ( from North Carolina
14 October 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Joy Ride is a helluva movie. Basically an homage to Stephen Spielberg's 1971 made-for-TV classic Duel, it's the story of three young people being terrorized by a malevolent trucker.

On his way to pick up his girlfriend from college, Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker) stops to bail his loser brother Fuller (Steve Zahn) out of jail. They pass the time by taunting a trucker on their CB radio. Of course the trucker turns out to be a psycho who terrorizes them until they finally think they've appeased him by offering him their abject apologies. But once Lewis and Fuller pick up Lewis' girlfriend (Leelee Sobieski), things start right up again with increased intensity, and the realization that this isn't just any trucker. A sense of the uncanny and possibly the supernatural starts to pervade the film. The tension is cranked up until by the end I was literally gritting my teeth and squirming in my seat.

This movie is smart, well directed, and scary as hell. My only complaint is that I really wanted Steve Zahn's character to die. Highly recommended. ***1/4/****

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21 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Good little chiller

Author: DunnDeeDaGreat from Woodbridge, VA
26 March 2002

Joy Ride is a good scary movie. What makes the film scary is the lack of a monster, the villain is a real crazy guy who can easily find you.John Dahl makes the film suspenseful with it's dark tone and swift camera angles and the cast all play their roles effectively. I give it *** out of ****.

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