Highway (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

We split on this one. Scoop thought it had some engaging elements, even though it was exceedingly weird and seemed to be written by someone who smoked as much dope as the characters. Tuna lost patience with the weirdness, and found it essentially pointless.

Scoop's notes in white:

What can I tell ya? I can see the film's flaws and I think most of you will agree with Tuna, but I liked the film, and admired the way it maintained consistency in its odd characters. Highway is a road picture targeted at a very specific group - those in the grunge/punk scene when their God, Kurt Cobain, said "sayonara" to existence. It's a film for a small and specific market, and you will enjoy it far more if you have a taste for grunge and some nostalgia for that era not long gone.


  • Kimberly Kates shows her breasts in a sex scene. Her crotch is visible in some scenes, but it isn't possible to determine if it is bare or covered with a small thong.
  • Selma Blair exposes her chest in a sex scene. She doesn't really have visible breasts because she's on her back and she's Selma Blair, but her nipples are seen clearly.
  • John McGinley does a distant frontal/rear nude scene.

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 Dancing).

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.

DVD info from Amazon

  • There are no special features, but the DVD does offer both a super widescreen 2.35:1 anamorphic version and a pan-n-scan full screen version.

The positives have to be balanced against some drawbacks.

  • 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 road movie.

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 wasn't compelling. 

The Critics Vote

  • No major reviews online. The minor reviewers seemed to weigh in at 2 to 2.5 stars. (See MRQE link below.)

The People Vote ...

  • 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 is.

My own 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 C-.

Based on this description, Tuna says, "C-. I have seen far better buddy road movies." Scoop says, "C+. 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."

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