TEEN GENRE FILMS have always flaunted flesh, but the prancing nakedness of Road Trip bears out a deliciously prurient trend. Combine our constant quest for titillation with the no-nudity clauses of established young actresses and you get an unprecedented burden for ever-younger and hungrier unknown ing鮵es to bear. The result is an over-the-top look back at the salad days of college—part nostalgia, part peep show—that gives rise to only one thought: Damn, where was I when all this was happening?
directed by Todd Phillips
with Breckin Meyer, Seann William Scott, Rachel Blanchard, Amy Smart, and Tom Green
opens May 19 at local theaters
The same might be said of Animal House, of which Road Trip is highly derivative, but in that film John Belushi can only peek through the sorority house window before he faints from breathless longing. Here, college freshman Josh (Breckin Meyer of Go) is through the window, into the bed, and invited by Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard of TV's Clueless) to make a video of their tryst—all in the first act. With sex a given, the plot can begin in earnest. Turns out Josh has a girlfriend at another college 1,800 miles away to whom one of his buddies accidentally sends the sex tape, so he and the gang go on a road trip to make sure she doesn't receive it.
Meyer, in fact, is the blandest of the likeable group, which includes the resident pot-head genius (Paulo Costanzo), the cowed nerd (DJ Qualls) whose car they abscond with, and the sex-crazed smart-ass (Seann William Scott, essentially reprising his turn in American Pie). Capitalizing on his MTV fame, prank-show host Tom Green narrates and puts in a puzzling but effective appearance as the campus idiot. In a shrewd move, screenwriters Scot Armstrong and Tom Phillips (who also directed) use him to explain the rampant, incongruous nudity: "It's my story," Green berates a rapt student who dares question the validity of naked girls in a particular scene. (He's obviously speaking to us as well.)
This spirit of hormone-justified irony infuses Road Trip and marginally saves the film from its own obviousness. Such absurdist comic detachment lingers even longer than the nudity—which, in all fairness, subsides once the story starts moving. We've seen everything else before: the white boys partying at a black frat, the stern nurse at the sperm bank, the countless boner gags. But despite the clich餠characters and recycled situations, Armstrong and Phillips put just enough spin and attitude on their movie to come away with something that feels a lot fresher than it is.