Fun Fear
Joy Ride
Review by Ross Anthony

Have you ever been prodded into playing some stupid practical joke? Or are you the one that usually does the prodding? "Joy Ride" examines one particular consequence of such a seemingly harmless prank.

Paul Walker, as a favor for mom, picks up recently released (yes, from prison) renegade brother (Steve Zahn) on his way to give gal interest (Leelee Sobieski) a lift. Hyperactive Zahn makes jagged conversation with his squeaky-clean brother. The dialogue scripting this interaction is excellent and I would have liked to see more of it. However, the film is not a character drama and this becomes perfectly clear when a p.o.'ed truck driver rams through fences, cornfields and more on his way to seek serious revenge for a CB joke initiated by the brothers. Sort of Steven King, the thriller parts play well, tightening the tension, while manipulating the audiences' fear/suspense. It's actually a fun fear.

Though very well acted (especially by Zahn), and scripted, and shot, "Joy Ride" skids down the same bumpy road for which so many films of its genre seem unable to find a detour. The infamous, "Oh damn, the killer's behind us and we're running out of gas." This horrendous mar nearly screeches well-earned momentum to a halt -- semi with locked brakes. Then there are the unconvincing decisions to keep the cops out of negotiations with the psycho killer.

Other than that ... it's good clean fun! And a "fear" reminder to those that like to laugh at the expense of others. Being mean ... isn't funny.

  • Joy Ride. Copyright © 2001. Rated R.
  • Starring Steve Zahn, Paul Walker, Leelee Sobieski.
  • Directed by John Dahl.
  • Written by Clay Tarver and J.J. Abramas.
  • Produced by J.J. Abramas and Chris Moore at 20th cent. Fox/Regency/Monarchy/Epsilon.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:07:13 PDT