Friday, November 14, 2008

Joyride (1996)

What was Adam West thinking? That’s the only thought I could bring to bear when watching the original Batman pimp his daughter from a seedy motel. I guess Adam West as a degenerate father who would pimp his own daughter might not have been so bad if he did so in a script that was coherent or believable, but Joyride was neither. Joyride is a jumbled mess of ideas haphazardly thrown together in an effort to create a tense crime drama. Instead, we get an amateurish film that is short on crime and big on drama…but not the good kind.

Joyride tells the story of a couple of outcast small town students who go to school once in the film…just long enough to get harassed by the local bullies. For the rest of the movie, it seems that the concept of school was forgotten. One of the boys, JT (Toby Maguire), helps his father run a seedy motel which is located directly on the wrong side of the tracks. The other boy, James (Wilson Cruz), is an effete teenager who owns a Hyundai that barely qualifies as a hoopdee. A young female guest at the motel, Tanya (Amy Hathaway) catches JT’s eye and threatens the close friendship between JT and James. The three mistakenly decide to go joyriding in a car belonging to an assassin, which still happens to have a body in the trunk. When confronted by the assassin, JT truculently refuses to cooperate. With the Police (Benicio Del Toro) and the Assassin (Christina Zilber) creating conflict, the teens must decide how to get themselves out of a jam.

Joyride takes the easy road at every turn. The plot concept wasn’t all bad, but it was not well thought out. For starters, you have Tonya Bayer being pimped by her father in a seedy motel. She is being pimped, at one point, to the Mayor for five thousand dollars. That is a high dollar amount even if you are the Governor of New York. For that kind of price, the Mayor doesn’t need to visit a cheap motel and run the risk of someone in his everyone-knows-each-other small town seeing him. No…for that money you get a house call. But it was decided that the action needed to center around this seedy motel, so many of the plot details end up feeling forced.

Another thing that really bothered me was Benicio Del Toro’s observation that the homicide being investigated was done by a professional. But the discovery of the body was inconsistent with the homicide because the murder scene was so meticulously cleaned. First of all, if the murder scene was meticulously cleaned, how did he know where the murder took place? It assumes the police would be privileged to the same information provided to the audience without ever creating a logical bridge to that assumption. Furthermore, an assassin that is so adept at covering her tracks that the police consider her to be a professional would certainly not leave the rotting body in the trunk of her car. If the body needed to be disposed of…it would have been done quickly and efficiently. Parking a car with a dead body in it in front of your motel room would be pretty dumb.

Another problem I had with Joyride involved the cuts. They were about as bad as I have ever seen. If you are going to have a character skinny dip in a swimming pool, you need to figure out a way to keep his blue shorts from showing in the water. I don’t know…maybe cover the top of the pool with a layer of leaves. That may have worked. But it seems at the very least the camera angles could have prevented his blue shorts from showing. What’s worse is that James jumps into the pool to join JT and Tanya who are already allegedly naked. After removing his clothes, James jumps into the pool, but the shot of him jumping clearly shows that he is also wearing blue shorts. Better cutting and improved camera angles could have sold scenes like this much more effectively. And these issues don’t even address the fact that the joyride car mysteriously becomes a different car by the end of the film.

Read More About Joyride (1996)

No comments: