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Joy Ride

Joy Ride

If you've ever played a practical joke that backfired on you, Joy Ride is probably a movie you can relate to.

Lewis (Paul Walker) and Fuller (Steve Zahn) are on their way to pick up Venna (Leelee Sobieski), when they decide to have some fun with a lonely trucker. They pose as a woman and tell the trucker to meet them in room 17 at a motel . Of course, said trucker is rather upset when he gets there and discovers an unattractive man in place of his beloved. So much so, in fact, that he rips the poor man's jaw off.

He then sets out on the trail of Lewis and Fuller in order to exact a proper revenge. And thus begins the not-so-joyous joy ride.

The problem with many movies of this kind is that so few of them are done properly. Fortunately, Joy Ride is, for the most part. It not only establishes our main characters bright and early and makes us care about them, but it provides a good balance of real and false suspense.

The cast is well-chosen, all things considered. Steve Zahn has an excellent screen presence, which makes up for Paul Walker. Walker isn't a bad actor, but he doesn't have the ability to carry a movie on his own (fortunately he hasn't yet). Leelee Sobieski is a good actress and right for the part in this film, but she has a much smaller role than you would think. She appears at the beginning and then disappears until at least halfway through.

Another good choice is the voice of the trucker. Ted Levine provides the creepy voice, and you really can't ask for a more appropriate choice. At first I thought it was Scott Glenn, but I realize now that Glenn's voice is not quite as rough.

Joy Ride is a quite entertaining thriller. It has a good cast, a solid script and sure-handed direction, and gives just the right number of chills down your spine. Fans of thrillers should definitely check it out.

Once again, Fox has given us a top-notch DVD to go with the movie. The picture is very good, though it does look a bit grainy in some of the darker parts of the film. Overall though, the picture quality (2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen) is excellent. The audio (5.1 Dolby Digital) is equally excellent. A lot of movies only use the surround speakers for things like explosions and big action sequences. Joy Ride uses them for everything, things like cars screeching in the background or even normal dialogue. This audio track surpassed my expectations.

Now we get to the extras. Let's start off with the real highlight, the four alternate endings. The first is 29 minutes long, and basically makes Joy Ride an entirely different movie. It picks up at the diner, and from there nothing is the same as in the theatrical release. I have to say I like the ending they really used better, but this discarded one is still pretty good. The other endings are all variations, none of which are anything special. In fact, they're all pretty clichéd, so I must say I'm glad they weren't used. Either way though, having four alternate endings is a great supplement on any disc.

Next up is three audio commentaries. The first is by director John Dahl, the second is by Steve Zahn and Leelee Sobieski, and the third by writers Clay Tarver and J.J. Abrams. They're all very different and entertaining in their own way, but I think the one with the writers is the best. They seem to have the same kind of sense of humor as I do (which is a frightening thought), and provide for a very entertaining commentary.

There is a four-minute making-of featurette, which is basically just a four-minute PR piece, a deleted scene (I'm glad it was left out), and voice audition tapes for the "Rusty Nail" character.

This is a great disc, and a deserving movie.

Joy Ride, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
96 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16X9 enhanced, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Starring Steve Zahn, Paul Walker, Leelee Sobieski
Produced by J.J. Abrams and Chris Moore
Written by Clay Tarver & J.J. Abrams, Directed by John Dahl


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Updated May 13, 2006