Piggybacking off the success of what old people call “gutter humor” or “toilet humor” in Hollywood, co-writer and director Todd Phillips brilliantly dumps a witty deuce in his foray into the potty genre with Road Trip.
The billboards and commercials for this flick no doubt will tout the Tom Green factor — the MTV nutjob plays Barry, a college veteran whose campus tour provides the film’s hilarious narrative Greek chorus — but the real reason to see this movie lies in performances of the four young road trippers.
Breckin Meyer, (Go and 54) Sean W. Scott, (Stifler from American Pie) and newcomers Paulo Costanzo and DJ Qualls set out on the open road to intercept a videotape of Josh (Meyer) cheating on his lifelong girlfriend “twice after a party and once the next morning” with the leggy Beth (Amy Smart, Varsity Blues and NBC’s The ’70s.). Josh has no choice after his roommate, pot-smoking genius Rubin (Costanzo), mistakenly ships Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard) the evidence. Thus begins the raucous 1,800-mile road trip from Ithaca, N.Y., to Austin (not Boston), Texas.
The four jaunt off in Kyle’s father’s Ford Taurus, although not for long. Opting for the scenic route, they run into a collapsed bridge. Too far from the interstate to backtrack, they decide to do their best Dukes of Hazzard impression and jump the gap. Kyle, fearing his rigid father’s wrath, objects but Rubin, “never wrong when it comes to physics,” assures the lo-mein-thin worry wort that they can make it. Fortunately they nail the dismount but upon landing they realize a harsh reality that them Duke boys never faced. The tires buckle, the car collapses like a fat girl in heels, and the four, lamenting their decision, narrowly escape death as their ride explodes. From there they steal a minibus from a school for the blind; Kyle becomes a man while they crash a kegger at a black fraternity house; E.L. (Scott) discovers an innovative and rather invasive way to donate sperm; Rubin, Barry’s father, and the Manilow (yes, Barry’s last name is Manilow) family dog share some words and a doobie in a hysterical scene destined to be a classic. And when they finally do arrive in Austin, all hell breaks loose.
Meanwhile back at school, Barry, erotically preoccupied with feeding a mouse to Rubin’s pet snake, hilariously holds down the fort. Complicating matters is Psycho-Teacher’s Assistant Jacob (Anthony Rapp) who in a scheme to score with Beth falsely promises Josh an extension on his midterm exam, in hopes of ensuring his competition’s looming failure in the course and subsequent removal from school.
Road Trip teems with brilliantly crafted, creatively crude jokes, executed with the precision and timing of comedy veterans. Unlike American Pie, the jokes in this movie work not just because they deal with sex, or drugs, or sperm donation, but because of the refreshing performances of the ensemble cast of young actors in this film.
Although the plot resembles that of the 1996 Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd flop Overnight Delivery, the originality of the ridiculously brilliant subplots sets these two cinematic journeys miles apart. The keen splicing of the Tom Green factor throughout the film injects the story with a wildly witty subtext, and cameo performances by Andy Dick (News Radio), Horatio Sanz (SNL) and director Todd Phillips as a toe sucking psycho help fuel this big-screen joyride.
The ’70s had Animal House, the ’80s had Dazed and Confused, the ’90s had American Pie. And now the 2000s, or the ’00s, or the 2Ks, or whatever we’re calling this decade, has Road Trip.