The primary target market is people in their mid-
to late- 20s, and the secondary market is younger females, because
underneath its grungy surface and bad haircuts, it has a sentimental
and romantic world view, perhaps excessively so. The film plays far
better for women than for men, with an IMDb male/female score
differential that approaches the all-time record (1.9, Dirty
Jared Leto plays the God of Fuck, a pool boy whose
only talent is obvious from his nickname. One day he was delivering
the goods to a wife of a Vegas mobster when the mobster walked in.
Oops. He barely made it out of the wiseguy's house, but knew that
the mob guy's goons would not rest until they could do some serious
damage to his body. His only choice was to flee Vegas. Enlisting his
best friend for a road trip was simple enough, but trying to find
out why the friend wanted to go to Seattle was a challenge. It seems
that the geeky friend spent a night with a girl back in high school,
and she went away ... to Seattle, of course, and he never got over
her. So it is when you're 19.
Along the way, the two friends made pit stops at a
legal brothel and a drug dealer's office, stopped to see an
"alligator boy", and picked up a runaway hooker and an aging hippie.
As they made their way to Washington State, they became aware that
Kurt Cobain had committed suicide, and every grunge/punk geek in the
country was making the same Seattle pilgrimage.
Unfortunately, the heavy-muscled mob thugs also
figured out the Seattle plan, and their route started to intersect
with that of the God of Fuck.
This film has some strong positives.
- The cast is excellent. Jared Leto and Jake
Gyllenhaal take the leads, while the supporting cast includes John
McGinley, Jeremy Piven, and Selma Blair.
- The photography is slick and the locales are
interesting. The outdoor shots during the road trip look like a
travelogue. One Vegas scene is shot in a neon graveyard, which
looks like the Nevada equivalent of those parks in Eastern Europe
which have been created by collecting old statues from the
Communist era. Of course, the outdated statues of Lenin have been
replaced in the Vegas version with outdated 50s and 60s neon signs
from the strip.
The positives have to be balanced against some
- The dialogue is sometimes realistic, but long
scenes consist of bizarre magic realism, in which characters
deliver long stoned monologues in the form of poems. This may not
be a negative, depending on your tolerance for such excesses. Both
Jeremy Piven and John McGinley do these monologues, and do them
brilliantly, but you have to decide if you want to see the kind of
movie where characters lapse into long speeches which sound like
the poems of Allen Ginsberg.
- The movie also walks an uneasy line between
black comedy and sentimentality. I didn't even know those two
things had a border.
- It is sometimes just plain strange. I liked it,
but I can see why most people would not.
Highway (2001) is a grunge
Jared Leto is caught screwing
Kimberley Kates by her gangster husband, and has to flee Las
Vegas. He convinces his best friend, Jake Gyllenhaal, to go with
him. Jake wants to see an old flame who has moved to Seattle, so
off they go, the day after Kurt Cobain committed suicide, with
bad guys in pursuit. Along the way, they encounter standard road
problems, like rescuing a runaway hooker (Selma Blair), and
saving the "alligator boy." By the time they get to Seattle,
they are four -- Jake, Jared, Selma, and an aging hippie.
I don't like grunge, I couldn't understand about half of what
they said, they spend much of their time stoned, and the plot
- IMDB summary.
IMDb voters score it 5.3/10. Extreme chick-flick
profile. Women like it (6.8), guys don't at all (5.0). The
1.8 differential is up there with the all-time estrogen
leaders. To my knowledge, Dirty Dancing is the category
champion, and its differential is 1.9.
|The meaning of the IMDb
score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of
excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars
from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm
watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars
from the critics. The fives are generally not
worthwhile unless they are really your kind of
material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics,
or a C- from our system.
Films rated below five are generally awful even if you
like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one
and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less,
depending on just how far below five the rating
guideline: A means the movie is so good it
will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not
good enough to win you over if you hate the
genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an
open mind about this type of film. C means it will only
appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover
appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but
will be considered excellent by genre fans, while
C- indicates that it we found it to
be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you
like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if
you love the genre. F means that the film is not only
unappealing across-the-board, but technically
inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for
fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is
recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C-
that often, because we like movies and we think that most of
them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know
that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below
Based on this description, Tuna
says, "C-. I have seen far better buddy
road movies." Scoop says,
Given what the film tried to accomplish, this is
quite a good effort from James Cox (the guy who went on to
direct Wonderland), but it's a real oddball film, and will
certainly not be everyone's cup of tea. I call it a C+ in the
mini-genre of sentimental black road trip comedies, but I am
also aware that my relative enjoyment of it will be a miniscule
minority position occupied by few fellow adherents, and that
almost all of the people on my side of the argument will be half
my age. It's not for most of you older guys who can't relate to
or don't like the grunge era."