Director: Bob Gale
Starring: James Marsden, Amy Smart, Gary Oldman
In 2001 writer/director Bob Gale (Back to the Future) wanted to make a movie. He invited all of his friends to help him out. The finished product ended up featuring Christopher Lloyd, Chris Cooper, Michael J. Fox, Gary Oldman and Kurt freakin’ Russel!
If you’ve heard of this flick, congrats, that makes about five of us. I stumbled across this late one night during my tenure as a Blockbuster employee. I like to think of myself as a cultured, risk-taking film aficionado – that I’m constantly on the lookout for little-known films that people generally don’t see. None of that’s actually true, I just like to think it is. Truth is, I got lucky on this one. “Free movie with Gary Oldman in it” I said to myself “that’s probably worth a look.”
Was it ever.
Neal (James Marsden, after he was Cyclops, before he was Superman’s girlfriend’s new boyfriend) is turning 22, and he still feels he has no direction in life. His problem is that he wants the universe to give him answers, but he doesn’t like the ones he’s getting. I’m not so old that I can’t remember this age, and having the exact same feelings about the future. That’s what hit me most about this flick – it starts with the confusion that most of us face in the years following high school, college or Uni: No one’s telling us what to do anymore, and we’ve got no freakin’ idea.
You’ll be thrilled to know, however, that things don’t stay firmly in post-teen angst territory for long; for our saviour arrives in the form of bow-tied, pipe-smokin’ O.W. Grant (Oldman). Introduced via a cute and none too intrusive bit of exposition in the intro, we’ve been waiting for Grant to show up anyway. This encounter leads Neal to a job with a mysterious oddball (Lloyd – what were you expecting?) which necessitates a journey along the film’s titular highway.
Then things get weird/funny/brilliant.
This is almost the Doctor Who episode that never was. The movie plays like a series of shorts strung together by Marsden’s character. The voice-over narration feels a little intrusive at times; some conversations (of which there are many) seem a bit repetitive; and they hammer philosophical views on “finding your course in life” with all the subtlety of a pro-wrestler. All of these things? Minor niggles. The cameos are worth the price alone, but the writing is witty, the film looks gorgeous, and dammit – I like James Marsden. He’s so relatable and relaxed in this film; I found myself rooting for him so hard that I thought I was turning gay.
How to enjoy it
Just watch it. Then hit the road and drive on brother (or sister)…
Rating – 4 out of 5 (Really Enjoyable)