Ryan and Joel’s Spring Break Road Trip: Day 2

Originally posted on Is It Sports? This is day 2 of Ryan and his friend Joel’s spring break road trip. A review of a Steve Zahn movie is just what every sports blog needs.

Day 2 Victoria, MN – Victoria, MN
All right, so I didn’t get this post up as quick as I wanted. Don’t blame Steve, blame college basketball. Now that my brackets are shot, I think I can focus a little more time filling you in on this road trip. I know you’re dying to hear what went down on day number two on our misadventures across middle America.

The thing is though, we really didn’t do anything. We went to the Mall of America in the afternoon, after getting a solid night’s sleep (which was totally needed after the disaster that was Friday). Joel was impressed by the Mall and the Cities, both by how large and by how clean they were. I guess it was like finding out that Andre the Giant really is 7 feet tall, and he showered.

Of course, we went on a Saturday, so the Mall that was half the size of Delaware was twice as populated. Additionally, since it was only a few days until St. Patrick’s day, there were, I kid you not, groups of kids dancing Irish Jigs in the Mall’s “Rotunda”, so as we meandered through the Mall we were serenaded with folk music and tap shoes that were very noticeably out of rhythm.

My argument that the Mall really does make a good tourist venue was given a boost. The greatest highlight was the “As Seen on TV” store that had a poster up for Girls Gone Wild. Tell me where to find that at Six Flags.

But after the Mall, we were in that awkward, what do we do next? phase. Well, clearly, this was the time to break out the “road trip” movie. There was no clearer choice than Joy Ride. As a service to you, I’m going to give you an exclusive, Is It Sports? review of this 2001 classic.

Ryan and Joel's Spring Break Road Trip: Day 2Lewis (Paul Walker) finished up his school year at Cal-Berkeley, and his quasi-girlfriend Venna (seriously, that’s her name) (LeeLee Sobieski (seriously, that’s her name)) who attends the University of Colorado wants him to come pick her up. So Lew does the obvious thing and buys a freaking car. On the way to pick up the beautiful Venna, Our buddy Lew gets a message that his older brother Fuller (Steve Zahn) got arrested in Salt Lake City. Lew goes to pick his brother up, and the road trip is on.

At a pit stop, Fuller installs a CB radio on Lew’s new car. With it, they decide to entice a lonely trucker by the name of Rusty Nail to meet with “Candy Cane” a fictional girl voiced, unconvincingly, by Lew. Rusty Nail goes to this hotel, finds there isn’t an attractive young lady but a disgruntled businessman. So what happens? Rusty rips off his jaw, of course. Then he sets his sights on Lewis and Fuller. For the rest of the movie, Rusty pursues the brothers, and eventually Venna as well.

There is a reason Paul Walker was chosen to star in the Fast and the Furious. There are a very select few actors who can make Vin Diesel look like a Shakesperean leading man, and Mr. Walker is one of them. He didn’t try to hide the fact that he was the oldest college student ever, or show any fatigue after driving across the expansive and entirely dull state of Nevada. I’m concerned for his future career, given that his leading roles always seem to involve him driving a car for most of it.

Steve Zahn, on the other hand, has a personality. This translated well to the movie, and if it wasn’t for him, there would be no plot advancement, no humor, no movie. The only problem with him, though, is that Steve Zahn has never ever been a leading man. In that, he should never be given the task of carrying a movie like this, especially when he has to carry the 200 lbs of dead weight in Paul Walker.

LeeLee Sobieski. She always seems to have that pretentious New York actress tone to her voice. It’s like she feels that it is her role to bring the proper thespian attitude to all movies, even ones as trite as this one. That being said, it seems like someone said “being in your underwear and having perpetually erect nipples is vastly important to this role” and she bought it. I want to see the episode of “Inside the Actor’s Studio” where she defends not wearing a padded bra for an entire movie shoot. I honestly think that it’s just a matter of time before she does full frontal nudity. As for her acting, she acted like every stupid girl I’ve ever had a crush on. So I guess she may be a good actress, if not a particularly good judge of movies

Rusty Nail is a great villain in every sense of the word. He has a fabulously cheesy name. You never actually see him. His truck is black. He’s obviously smarter than the “good guys”. He was clearly wronged and is looking to punish those who wronged him.

For most of the movie, ol’ Rusty is messing with the boys, but then the “horny trucker” side of him takes over and he kidnaps Venna’s roommate, makes the boys go to a diner naked and wraps Venna in shrink wrap. He’s creative, violent, and has a nose for suspense, exactly what you want out a movie villain. By far, the best part in the movie, and you never really get a look at him.

Well see here’s the thing. Rusty Nail, as I had mentioned, has been following the brothers and Venna across God’s Country, but then when they get to Nebraska, he up and decides to finally try to kill all three of them. He’s clearly not that far ahead of the brothers, but still, he has time to set up a veritable Rube Goldberg machine in order to do all three of them in. Truckers, especially psychotic truckers, don’t tend to have this type of forethought. Without spoiling it for anyone, the movie had an inadequate ending that inexplicably left the option open for a sequel. You might get Paul Walker in on that, but good luck on getting any other member of the Screen Actors Guild involved.

First and foremost, this movie was fraught with great takeaway lines. It was chock full with inane trucker banter that Joel and I used throughout the trip, as well as the typical brother to brother bickering that I live with, only scripted and one sided.

As a road trip movie, it was invaluable for several reasons. A) We were two guys in a car for a week. We needed to see some LeeLee. B) It taught us not to piss off truckers. C) We kept looking for “Kojaks with a Kodak”. I would recommend everyone see it, especially if you are going on a road trip anytime soon.

I’ll be back with Day 3 sometime soon. – Ryan

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