Some women welcome new motherhood’s wonders and trials with open arms and hearts. Others decide to send their infant away to someone more adept at parenting and arrange a flight to Lanzarote where they may recover in a sea of vodka. Joy (Olivia Colman) belongs to the second group. However, her plot is derailed when Charlie Reid’s 12-year-old character Mully steals her taxi, leaving her halfway across County Kerry when she wakes up.
This odd-couple comedy road movie paints its characters in brushstrokes so broad you could land a jumbo jet on them, while the intrusively affable score lurches into every scene like a drunk with no concept of personal space. And yet Colman saves the picture, her thorny performance gradually revealing a well of pain
Joy Ride Cast
- Paul Walker as Lewis Thomas
- Steve Zahn as Fuller Thomas
- Leelee Sobieski as Venna
- Jessica Bowman as Charlotte
- Jim Beaver as Sheriff Ritter
- Stuart Stone as Danny
- Basil Wallace as a Car Salesman
- Michael McCleery as Officer Akins
- Brian Leckner as Officer Keeney
- Kenneth White as Ronald Ellinghouse
- Jay Hernandez as Marine
Joy Ride Plot and Characters
Some horror films play so realistically that we fail to see that they are purely stylistic exercises. Halloween and John Dahl’s “Joy Ride” are two examples. In both movies, there is a vicious predator who never leaves and always appears to anticipate what his victims will do next. We never see the bad guy, a detail that is added by “Joy Ride.” Only his voice and truck are visible.
The movie is supported by believable characters in a somewhat believable situation. Lewis, a college student who has been pretending for years to be Venna’s closest buddy when in reality he wants to be her boyfriend, is portrayed by Paul Walker (“The Fast and the Furious”). She lives in Boulder while he is in school in California. Out of the blue, he offers to take them all back to the east coast for the holidays.
Lewis purchases a 1971 Chrysler Newport by the item in Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary that states that all movie heroes traveling cross-country drive gas-guzzling classics (most of the cars since 1980 look nerdy). The Newport would often be a convertible; however, this time, a hardtop is required so that they can be imprisoned within.
To bail out his clueless brother Fuller (Steve Zahn, sporting a “What? Me Worry?” attitude), Lewis detours to Salt Lake City along the route. Then it’s on to Boulder, where we have plenty of time to ponder why the film repeatedly states that Venna visits Boulder, Boulder, Boulder before finally revealing to us a completely level neocolonial university without any mountains in the distance. I suppose this balances the soundtrack for the mountains that were in “Rumble in the Bronx’s” background. No big deal.
The narrative has already cranked up the tension. Fuller, who has a talent for drawing trouble and a second talent for looking for it when it doesn’t come to him, persuades Lewis to buy a $40 citizen’s band radio, which Lewis describes as “kind of a prehistoric internet,” and then encourages him to impersonate a woman on the radio. Lewis goes on a date as Candy Cane with Rusty Nail, a truck driver. She claims to be staying in Room 17 at a wayside hotel, which Lewis and Fuller are aware will be inhabited by a very offensive racist guest. In Room 18, the practical jokers are located next door.
The tension has already been amplified by the story. Fuller convinces Lewis to purchase a $40 citizen’s band radio, which Lewis characterizes as “sort of a primitive internet,” and then urges him to mimic a woman on the radio. Fuller has a knack for attracting trouble and a second knack for hunting for it when it doesn’t come to him. As Candy Cane, Lewis meets truck driver Rusty Nail for a date. She says she will be staying in Room 17 at a roadside inn, which Lewis and Fuller know will be home to an extremely obnoxious racist visitor. The jokers are in Room 18, right next to you.
The film then transitions into a series of intense action sequences as Rusty Nail pursues the Chrysler while operating a massive semi-truck through the backroads of the Plains states. The heroes of road movies typically avoid using the interstate and instead stop at run-down gas stations that, in real life, have been bankrupt for years. The mandatory redneck bar with the threatening drunks who threaten the girl also adds to the tension; however, Zahn’s character successfully diffuses the situation with some brilliant improvisation.
Joy Ride Review
The fact that “Joyride” switches from utterly terrifying drama and breezy, flighty humor in an instant is what makes it rather startling at times. In addition, it seems like “Joyride” is a film and a story that could have gone down any of these alleyways at any time and never turned around. Reynolds deserves praise for how seamlessly the movie navigates through them while still maintaining its momentum, but there are times when it feels like there is just too much going on to keep up with the sudden twists. However, “Joyride” is a fun comedy-drama about a road trip, and Kerry looks stunning in the gorgeous sunshine.
Emer Reynolds’ talents behind the camera are hoped to continue, while Olivia Colman once again shows her skill on screen. Even though it occasionally strains and isn’t always as happy as the title suggests, “Joyride” is nonetheless a humorous ride through the countryside with enjoyable passengers.