Film Review: Steve Zahn gets behind the wheel in 'Joyride'

Two estranged brothers driving cross-country in a 1971 Chrysler Newport making prank calls on a CB radio sounds like a surefire comedy hit, doesn’t it? The recipe to turn this comedy into a teenage thriller calls for one psychotic truck driver and one hot college girl.

Playing the two estranged brothers are Paul Walker (who most of you will remember as the injured all-state quarterback from “”Varsity Blues””) and the ever-hilarious Steve Zahn (“”Saving Silverman,”” “”That Thing You Do””). The majority of the film is interplay between Walker and Zahn. This creates a bit of a problem, because Walker is about a year of intensive acting lessons away from being able to stumble through a film without annoying whatever part of the audience that isn’t overcome by his dimples. Until those lessons are paid for, he’s stuck with competing against Freddie Prinze Jr. for all of the worthless young-male-actor roles in Hollywood.

Leelee Sobieski plays the lead female character, Venna. She describes Venna as “”the girl with the boobs and the butt who does go to college.””

Unfortunately, Venna is that and nothing more. The young actress does the best she can, considering her character’s only purpose is to keep the audience from getting tired of Zahn’s attempts to get Walker into trouble with trite and over-used exclamations such as “”Come on, man!”” and “”Dude, this is awesome.””

Zahn’s comic styling is this film’s only saving grace. He plays the typical, comic-relief smartass, but Zahn makes the character all his with his trademark facial and vocal expressions. His hijinks are refreshing and at the same time oddly misplaced in this teen thriller.

Zahn has fewer and fewer opportunities to let his comic genius shine as the movie goes on because this film only gets more and more intense. The fact that the film’s single greatest attribute gets weaned out over time leaves the audience to watch nothing more than blood fly all over the screen.

Since this thriller has so few redeeming qualities and is rated R, I imagine you are wondering at this point about the nudity factor. Leelee Sobieski fans (if such a thing exists) will be disappointed to know that there is no female nudity anywhere in this film. Partial male nudity occurs at one point, but the R rating comes mostly as a result of violence. Unfortunately, this joyride is for Steve Zahn fans only.

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