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another film glorifying a sociopathic narcissist (another Scott Peterson-type)
spiritwriter1 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
What a waste of talent -- although it appears that Crudup in real life is a lot more like the vapid, self- absorbed, character-less character he portrays in this disappointing movie.

In art, sometimes the empty spaces reveal more than the painted or created content. What this movie reveals is the unconsciousness and the contradictory/competing, unresolved impulses/consciousness of the film's director/writer. It unintentionally shows the LACK of awareness that a truly evolved, deeply aware character should have and be tormented about in order to deserve audience empathy or sympathy OR the lack of which is used to serve as a cautionary tale to the audience. But this film fails on either level in that regard.

The fact that Cal, the main character (very much an ANTagonist, not a protagonist in the true sense of the word), has no empathy for anyone, especially those most deserving of it (which does NOT include him) and that he has such overblown, entitled, self-pitying, whiney sympathy only for himself, combined with the hallmark lack of remorse and no sense of guilt or awareness of his impact on others -- all converge in this film to make him the epitome of the self-involved, developmentally arrested, narcissistic sociopath -- somehow this is now the gold standard for males on film and in the world at this point and time.

One of his counterpoints (James LeGros) states with a laser-true flash: "I bet you haven't done one good thing in life -- and I bet you won't". It captures the absolute essence of the Cal character. Something the other characters he bulldozes over in the film seem to realize fairly quickly despite the director having stacked the deck to manipulate sympathy for Cal. That is a testament to the supporting cast's talent and skills.

Cal's eventual 'return' has nothing to do with character development, transformation or evolution of consciousness. It has only to do with the ultimate capitulation that until something better comes along, he may as well be back in his comfy cozy status quo of entitled enablement where the living is easy and no one will demand that he grow up--something of which he is willfully incapable and uninterested in doing.

The film could have been pointed and intentional about showing the traps and tragedies -- the devastating effects of this kind of lack of conscience/ consciousness, but it excuses and glorifies it instead -- in fact, it wallows in self-pity right along with the arrogant, selfish, emotionally stunted main character.

(and it sure sent chills up my spine when thinking of the recent revelations about convicted murderer Scott Peterson).

If you want to see Crudup at his most nuanced and full of an exciting potential that has never been truly realized in my opinion, see the underrated 'Inventing the Abbotts' ....
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Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
B2418 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This curiosity filled the screen on Sundance recently and I found myself watching it right through to the end. In it, a thirty-something married man panics when he finds himself psychologically strained by an excess of responsibility on the one hand and too much testosterone on the other. Thus begins a cross country flight in his appropriately yuppie Volvo station wagon to find himself.

What happens next is almost as preposterous as the apparent idea that there is anything likable about the guy at all. Like Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch, actor Crudup mugs his way through the vicissitudes of meeting one improbable and willowy blonde, brunette, or redhead (all of whom seem to be taller than he) after another. Each one is either too smothering or loony, offering him the altogether too-easy option of dumping them as he makes his way to Oregon to link up with his estranged father, who proves just as selfish and unpleasant as himself -- thus hastening a predictable conclusion in which he finally gets exactly what he doesn't deserve.

It is not so much that there are innumerable geographical goofs in the film that annoy the hell out of me (most of it was either filmed from helicopters or in odd parts of Oregon and Alabama -- say what? -- including sudden impossible changes in weather and one shot of the Minneapolis airport with mountains in the background), but rather that the main character exudes an ambiguity unrelieved by a plot that goes nowhere.

One interesting and commendable feature, however, is that of showing out-of-sequence flashes in his head that are alternately dreamlike and threatening. Although it's been done before, there is much to be said about this cinematic device as displayed here.
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Unfocused, rambling and uneven. What a mess!
Greg Page29 January 2003
This film was so unfocused, rambling and uneven that it was an effort to watch the whole thing. (I actually thought some interesting plot elements might develop.) This was nothing more than a "coming-of-age" film for the thirty-something generation. Total crap and I have no idea what Julianne Moore was doing in this since it was the only reason I picked it off the shelf at the rental store.
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A big bore.
dbdumonteil25 March 2004
This is one of those road movies that would like to tell you a lotta things about women,the universe,the better life,the terrible solitude of the brilliant architect from Manhattan who severs all links with everyone,including his three years old child -which may seem irresponsible to some-Actually the hero wins hands down when it comes to selfishness and the scene with his old school pal ,which begins as some kind of good old days conversation and ends on a threatening note is the oasis in a desert movie.

The scene with-the-father-who-left-home-when -I-was-a child has been told and told and TOLD.Of course it did not prevent the offspring from making his way of life.And when you see the hero's wife's attitude ,you may think she must never have heard about woman's lib.

The best is the soundtrack which includes superb songs by Willie Nelson,Tom Waits or Bonnie Raitt...But you can enjoy them without this tedious pretentious work.
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Are We There Yet?
lschmalz8 February 2003
Billy Crudup stars in this slow moving film as "Cal", an architect who one day just walks out on his loving wife and son. What Cal is in search of we know not, but he is full of self-loathing for leaving and begins a drunken trek cross country. In his travels he meets a series of people who he treats like crap and then wallows in more self loathing and drink. The movie does end up with a moral; Cal realizes that he had it pretty good at home, but we don't realize this until we've sat through at least the first ninety minutes wondering where this movie and Cal, for that matter, are headed. Adding to the confusion are some flashback sequences that are never explained and have nothing to do with the ending what-so-ever. The only bright spot is when Cal meets up with Dulcie (Moore), and you think "Aha! I know where this movie is headed", and then it doesn't go that way at all. And that's a shame. Dulcie's story line is dropped just as the movie takes a turn towards being remotely interesting, and we are sent right back on Cal's boring journey. There is nothing redeemable in the character of Cal, and what he needs is a swift kick to the butt. Add to that a soundtrack that is ninety percent Willie Nelson songs, and you can see where a good shot of caffeine prior to watching this movie will come in handy. On an upnote, the cinematography was beautiful; it just should have been saved for a better movie. If you really need to be told that there's no place like home, watch "The Wizard of Oz" instead.
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a good road movie about a non-dumb theme.
markwriter2 January 2004
I'm not sure why this movie scores so low. Without knowing anything about it, I took a risk and rented it based on the cast of Billy Crudup and Julianne Moore. Both of them are very good, there are many supporting cast performances which are also very good. Simply put, the movie doesn't insult the intelligence of the viewer.

On the DVD commentary track the director mentions the resistance he got from many studio execs while trying to fund the movie, and he got lots of criticism that his main character (Crudup) was unlikeable. Seeing this movie while knowing that "hollywood" resisted mightily might lead to some insight as to the mindset of the power players. The main character has more of a human range of behaviors than seems comfortable to those who crave cartoon superheros.

I don't think the title is great. I don't have a better one, see if you do after you see it. "Father" should be in the title somewhere.
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When Bad Movies Happen to Good Actors...
vivesi-115 March 2003
You get something like "World Traveler." This movie rang so false throughout that it was sort of like sitting through a not-so-gifted recital of Rachmaninoff. There's mastery somewhere in there but you just can't see or feel it. And maybe the only mastery in World Traveler was the memories of the performances of the cast in other roles, in other, far better movies. It is unforgivable to squander such talent.

And the story held such promise! A man leaves his perfect life to freewheel it, booze it up, get laid, have no responsibilities. I like that story. That this writer/director took it no further than the surface is a mysterious shame. Why write this if there is no motivation given? Why waste our time like this?
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A fine film and a writer/director worth watching
micahmarie23 May 2004
I was disappointed to see the reviews that this film is getting here when I thought that it was a beautiful, subtle film that packed an emotional wallop.

"World Traveler" is a love letter to anyone who has ever drifted or run from circumstance be it the way the protagonist of Freundlich's film did by jumping in his car and taking off or be it via emotionally resigning from a situation or relationship.

If you are looking for a "set-up-pay-off" story line this is not it, nor is it a pretentious art film. It is an engrossing and emotionally honest film in the vein of a John Cheever short story and it is well worth the watch as is his Myth of Fingerprints.

Oh, and watch it alone.
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The landscape of the land
jotix1009 March 2005
Bart Freundlich, the talented young director, has created an enigmatic piece of film making with "World Traveler". Mr. Freundlich, writing his own screen play, shows he has a keen insight to these people he presents in the movie; he knows them well. Thanks to Billy Crudup, the star of "World Traveler", this is a film worth taking a look. It will stay with the viewer for weeks to come.

If you haven't watched the film, please stop reading.

The beginning of the film will disorient viewers not paying attention to this story about a man who one day, walks out of his present, prosperous life. What could he want, when for all appearances, he has it all. What we don't realize is that Cal's journey will bring him to deal with his own life and find closure, as he gets involved in all the situations one sees him in the film.

There is a point in the middle of the film where Cal meets an old school mate. It's clear that Jack, played brilliantly by James LeGros, has seen into Cal's soul and he didn't like what he saw. In a way, Cal has such a personality that provokes a dislike in many of the people that comes in contact with him. In Jack's view, Cal will never do anything that will matter in his life, but obviously, this long forgotten friend has no clue as to what's going on inside the drifter's head.

What we don't realize is that Cal, in turn, is looking for the elusive father that abandoned him when he was young. In fact, this is the surprise that is saved for the end and it rewards us by staying with the film, that plays at different levels, provoking us.

Billy Crudup's work is extraordinary. This young actor proves he was meant to play Cal. No other actor comes to mind that could have projected the range Mr. Crudup shows with this depiction of Cal. In minor roles we see a lot of excellent actors. Julianne Moore is perfect as Dulcie. Cleavant Derricks is the kind Carl. Liane Balaban makes a sweet Meg. Karen Allen makes a welcome appearance as Delores. Finally, David Keith is wonderful as Richard.

The cinematography by Terry Stacey is gorgeous. The original music was created by Clint Mansere. The great Willie Nelson is heard in the sound track.

Watch this film to see a new talent at work with a perfectly cast actor.
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Thought provoking
goghgrl-610-89504730 September 2015
I really enjoyed this entire movie. It is not fast paced, but that is appropriate for the story line. People who think it plods along may need more action, but that is their issue. It is not formulaic, not a flickering screen every 5 seconds. Good acting by all actors -- especially leading man Billy Crudup as the man who thinks he can walk away, and supporting actress Julianne Moore as a delusional woman who claims to be escaping from her husband. This is a tough story about a man struggling to handle being a responsible adult, who makes some terrible choices while searching for answers. I believe the character finds out there are no easy answers and nothing will help him fully understand "why." I think this movie speaks about the many people who at times feel like lost souls, trying to figure out how they ended up where they are and wondering what would it be like to just leave it all behind. Turns out you can't really leave it all behind because your past life follows you and haunts you wherever you go. I recommend it.
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Film-makers like this block the dooor for real talent.
raymondduck26 December 2003
I am one of those people that respect every film-maker as having achieved, each film I watch I usually respect(although I admit I select carefully) and appriciate for what it is. Not any more. This is truly one of the worst scripts I have seen produced as a much so I felt compelled to warn others off it. The dialogue was truly unbelievable, the main protaganist was about the last person I would be interested in finding out more about. A scene were an old school friend 'tells it like it is' made me laugh only because it was a pathetic attempt to reveal the subtext of an already concluded plot. The direction is glib at best and at worst film-making by numbers. To compare this film to the atmospheric majesty of a film like Five Easy Pieces is a travesty.
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Ranked to low..
hydra196029 October 2004
This film was a very nice surprise for me for many reasons and will be for you too. IF and I stress If you are the kind of person who can relate to a movie thats very subtle. If you don't need things laid out for you. If you love to see acting done on an internal level. This movie is loaded with unspoken dialogue. To enjoy it you have to be able to fill in the blanks on your own.

I cant explain to someone why they should like this movie but can give you one litmus test for it. If you read a poem and only see the words on the page, if you cant see the meaning behind the poem and in someway turn it into your own or feel the writers intent. Then don't watch this movie. This is the type of movie that will be interpreted by every viewer in a different way based on what type of person they are and that is why I thinked its ranked so low. It appeals to a small minority just as poetry does.

Had a different lead actor been in the film, someone like Sean Penn or Robert Downey Jr, someone who carries a lot of emotional baggage that people can easy relate too I think it would have garnered a lot of attention. However I thought Crudup did an amazing job.

I am not trying to sound like an elitist art house movie lover because I am not..rather I am just trying to pinpoint people who will like this film. To put it simply, If you felt the scene in American Beauty where the kid is watching the bag blowing around in the wind you will like this movie.
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"The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Adulterer": the Friendly Beard's plea for empathy.
Fedor Petrovic (fedor8)1 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Crudup (great name; "the upper crud") suddenly walks out of his successful life when he realizes that his wife, kid, job as architect, and the tall NY buildings are suffocating him. The poor dear. I can certainly identify with part of it: who the hell wants a 3 year-old kid who sounds weirder over the phone than E.T. in his most alien moments? Who wants a 3 year-old kid, period. Still, our rather short anti-hero produced the little bastard of his own free will hence one of the first things we learn about Crudup is that he's an irresponsible, selfish git. The movie showcases his (dis)spirited "search for himself" - or put in more simple terms, he uses this personal mental crisis as an opportunity for a nice little unplanned (sex) holiday.

As he makes his way to the first small town, Crudup reveals that it isn't just his strange son or The Empire State Building that became a burden for his small shoulders. His genitals got that certain itch, the one that guys get all the time. Being good-looking (something the movie tells us over and over, though not that he is practically a midget) he gets to sleep with several women in no time. Apparently, he possesses such raw, irresistible sexual magnetism that a waitress, played by once-pretty Karen Allen, practically bribes her colleague to let her have him. "Would you like those eggs with a salad and a pair of small breasts?" Crudup nods and off they go.

To cut a long story short, what saves this movie from being unwatchable is that it's a road movie, and road movies always have elements of surprise to them, if nothing else. The best part of WT was the very effective scene in which Julianne Moore turns out to be a demented schizophrenic paranoid that talks to empty chairs.

The worst part of the movie is Crudup's visit to his father, played by Keith, an actor only 14 years Crudup's senior. When you add to that the fact that nowadays older actors and actresses always look younger than they really are - due to plastic surgery - we end up with a father-and-son situation that doesn't exactly lend realism to the proceedings. "Dad, why did you have me when you were just 10?" This is almost Oliverstoneian casting! (Jolie and Farrell as mother and son. "Mom, how come Ancient Greece had the medical know-how to get you pregnant at the age of 3?" Ditto Close and Gibson in "Hamlet".) Unfortunately, he never poses this essential question. Instead, the writer/director Friendly Beard uses this opportunity to make excuses for Crudup's selfishness. "He was a poor little boy, deserted by his equally mean father at a young age, so that's why Crudup is such a bastard now." Explanation offered, excuse rammed down out throats, case closed. Like father, like son, like Hollywood, "like me, for it's not my fault destiny has been unkind to me".

This is the kind of liberal, left-wing Psychology 101 baloney that we've been served by American dramas for decades now. The recent trend is that no-one is ultimately responsible for their actions hence we should weep for all the sociopaths, psychopaths and other degenerates out there. Poor little innocent things, run over by a harsh life... "Please, Mr.Judge, don't give Mr.Mass-Murderer the death penalty, for it is a cruel and unusual punishment for a lost soul that we are trying so desperately to save. His father was an alcoholic and his mother watched "The Cosby Show" every day. It's not his fault he turned out that way..." It's the same with Crudup: we're supposed to be moved, touched by this last-minute revelation, as if he were the only kid who grew up without a parent.

Anti-social behaviour, whether it be just regular adultery or genocide, has been scientifically proved to stem mostly from the individual's DNA structure, much less from his upbringing. Psychopaths are born, not created (not referring to Crudup, though). The result of this new trend is that people are becoming softies with excuses ready for every single thing they do wrong, and if that isn't a precursor to the eventual fall of the Western World, I don't know what is.

Nice shots of the American landscapes, and a horrible soundtrack by Willie Nelson and Bonnie Rat.
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Self-discovery on a road trip leads nowhere...***Possible Spoilers Ahead***
Neil Doyle24 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Aside from some gorgeous color cinematography and BILLY CRUDUP's excellent performance as a man seeking self-discovery, WORLD TRAVELER has little to offer in the way of compelling situations or touching dialog. The character played by JULIANNE MOORE is slightly off kilter from the start, so it's not too surprising that she turns out to be a mentally ill woman talking to and about a non-existent child.

But the real weakness of WORLD TRAVELER is that the script goes nowhere in search of "the truth." Even the reunion scene with Crudup's dad, played by David KEITH (who is only slightly older than Crudup), fails to give any depth to the characters they play. Nevertheless, thanks to their performances, this section of the film stirs the most interest.

Any man who runs into the kind of boring characters that Crudup does should be more than willing to return home to wife and child. That seems to be the moral of this disappointing little tale, worth watching only to see Crudup emerge as a sensitive actor worth taking note of.
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Yawn. A road trip / finding one's self unbelievable snore fest.
gsh99913 September 2006
I'm a big fan of the different genre of sci-fi but my imagination has its limits. This movie stretched it too far when the hero/zero finds Julianne Moore sleeping in a bar, homeless, and picks her up for part of his journey. Friends, I've seen women sleeping in bars, I will admit, but none looked a bit like Julianne Moore. When will directors start using actresses that might not look like movie stars? How often does a guy pick up a passed out drunk girl in a bar that looks like that? If the hero/zero was confronted with reality, and what he would really find passed out in a bar booth, he probably would have run home to his wife as fast as he could. If I could take a road trip and find hot Hollywood actresses sleeping in bars, I would run away too! Unbelievable and somewhat boring. But decent acting could make it a hit for some people.
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george.schmidt23 April 2002
WORLD TRAVELER (2002) **1/2 Billy Crudup, Julianne Moore, Cleavant Derricks, James LeGros, David Keith, Karen Allen, Mary McCormack, Liane Balaban, Francie Swift, Richie Dye. Filmmaker Bart Freundlich's sophomore endeavor echoes fine 70's introspective dramas the likes of `Five Easy Pieces' but wanders almost aimlessly with his protagonist Crudup (who acquits himself barely here into being anything remotely resembling a likable person) as a callow young family man who one day drives from NYC across the country to find …something, anything… to make sense of his existence encountering a few colorful characters along the way (namely the director's real-life love Moore, who adds some tasty flaky moments) yet makes the impossible somehow engrossing.
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don't bother
gordon_021409 April 2003
The worst movie I've seen in a long time. This whole thing rings false, and the Billy Crudup character especially so. The potential for a good story is there, but this movie never comes close to delivering. Every plot element just drifts away.
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Don't even bother
gardenerwannabe12 September 2011
This is a don't-waste-your-time movie. With all of the possible talent potential, why did they stoop so low? It isn't even interesting. Sure, there are quality films with unlikeable, narcissistic characters but this isn't one of them.There are no polite words to use in describing the main character. I kept it running while I read something interesting, waiting for it to get to the point, a point, any point. Never happened. Some have said that they liked the scenery. A travelogue or National Geographic would be more fun.I found it so uninteresting and pathetic that it is hard to even come up with enough to say about it to fill the required 10 lines of text for this review!
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World Traveler
jamesd19678 January 2010
Not a bad movie, but not a great one either. There doesn't seem to be much of a point to this movie. I got this movie because of the box, I love road trip style movies. The acting here is great, but the story fails to deliver much; it is very predictable. I guess that I would say that the best element of this film is the scenery of the United States. They show the best of the best, from Wyoming to Montana to the beaches to the deserts. To sum it up quickly, the lead character, Cal, is looking for a better life and hits the road in search of it, but sometimes the grass is not always greener on the other side. From state to state and female friend Billy Crudup plays this role well. Julianne Moore also does a fine job with her role in this movie.
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A life passage well portrayed
Paul Creeden15 May 2005
This film is about a very particular life passage. Perhaps its failure to garner great reviews or box office lies in the very special life passage it wonderfully portrays. Very few of us seem to take this particular journey and follow it through. Billy Crudup's truly soulful talent brought me back to my own experience of this exploration of life by way of flight and reconciliation. It would be easy to see this story as just another episodic road movie without much glitter or bang. It is rather a moving self-analysis, in which the traveler (Crudup) is very much stuck in the same place, despite the miles traveled and the diverse personalities encountered. If you spend the film focused on Crudup's face, you may be able to see what I mean. It's all there in his eyes. A wonderful performance delivered with depth and subtlety. A rewarding drama, well worth patience and quiet concentration.
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Billy Crudup impresses
mrchaos335 July 2003
World Traveler's star is one of the best and most under-rated actors working in film today. Billy Crudup impresses every time out, but hasn't yet found the role that will propel him onto the A-list. Unfortunately World Traveler isn't likely to raise his profile. He plays Cal, a successful thirtysomething who suddenly leaves his wife and child in search of something intangible just beyond the horizon. On the road he meets people who force him to examine the painful corners of his life. Directed by Bart Freundlich, (Julianne Moore's real-life husband), the movie crawls along at a snail's pace, and never really exploits the energy inherent in a road picture – just being on the road with the top down and the pedal pressed to the metal. Cal is the typical `the guy who's trying to find himself,' but he is so self-centered that as a viewer I found myself wishing he would just get lost and never come back. There is some strong acting here though. Canadian Liane Balaban (New Waterford Girl, St. Jude) has a minor but satisfying role. The best work in the film, however, belongs to James LeGros who has a chance meeting with Cal in an airport. They knew one another in high school, and LeGros has been harbouring a grudge against Cal for fifteen years. In a scene that is almost worth the price of admission he unloads an avalanche of resentment on Cal, who listens and decides to change his life. It is a well written scene, wonderfully played by Crudup and LeGros, but not enough to carry the whole movie.
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On the road again....
George Parker7 February 2003
After watching "World Traveler" I visited the film's page and read the plot outline. I'm glad I did because now I know what the hell the film was about.

A sort of combo road trip and character study, "World Traveler" wraps a plodding nonstory meandering in a stylish shoot sprinkled with cameos by some good actors and backdrops of scenic middle America in Winter. For those who want to try to climb in the head of a not-very-interesting protag (Crudup), this flick may have value. For most, the story will probably not be sufficiently interesting to spend 1.5 hours with. (C+)

Note - It will help you enjoy the film if you like Willie Nelson music.
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Beautifully Visual but Existential Road Trip
noralee20 December 2005
"World Traveler" could be a video for Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" - "Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack/ I went out for a ride and I never went back/ Like a river that don't know where it's flowing/ I took a wrong turn and I just kept going. . ./Everybody needs a place to rest/ Everybody wants to have a home/ Don't make no difference what nobody says/ Ain't nobody like to be alone."

Instead, writer/director Bart Freundlich uses that ultimate road warrior Willie Nelson and his songs, particularly some recent duets, as the expressive soundtrack, concluding with "Across the Borderline": "When you reach the broken promise land,/ Every dream slips through your hand,/ You'll know it's too late to change your mind./ 'Cause you paid the price to come to far,/ Just to wind up where you are,/ And you're still just across the borderline./. . . Hope remains when pride is gone,/ And it keeps you moving on,/ Calling you across the borderline./ And you're still just across the borderline."

I'd follow Billy Crudup just about anywhere in the movies, so I gave this picaresque, existential introspection space, especially admiring Terry Stacey's cinematography. He has a European's appreciation for going across the U.S. Utilizing Crudup's chiseled visage to critical effect in the script as if it were written specifically for him, his character's alcoholic break-down is mostly visual, through akimbo body language and his dreams, as he knock-hockeys off a series of even more seeking or troubled characters until his meeting up with his past and what could be his future seem to straighten him out.

The opening and closing NYC setting shots of the World Trade Center of course tell us what day this was filmed before. (originally filmed 5/4/2002)
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Who sang "You were only fooling....."
pl-mattson7 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
During the part of Cal's trip (with Julianne Moore) where he stopped at a state fair in Montanna, the song "You were only fooling but I was falling in love" was sung by a female vocalist. Could the singer have been KAY STARR?? Portions of the tune did in fact sound a little like her and then there were a few notes that sounded more like Patsy Cline.

So I am betting that the song was not sung by KAY STARR. Anyone that can remember music from the 50's and 60's might offer up their thoughts on this topic. I believe that this recording was of another Country and Western singer. Overall, the movie was quite interesting but had a few discontinuities and unanswered questions, e.g., what was going on with Cal getting handcuffed as He gets off of an airplane in the first minutes of the movie?
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Thin Plot
mmereos17 August 2003
The way to watch this movie is watch the first 10 minutes, then fast-forward to the last 10 minutes. I guarantee you will not miss a thing.

This movie was very pathetic, even the wife came down and started watching it and stated after about 5 minutes that she can't believe I'm watching such a slow and uneventful movie.
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