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Road Trip

What can be said about a film that aims so low, it can't help but hit its mark? Road Trip aspires to be this year's American Pie, and it succeeds. How couldn't it? Again combining '80s teen-sex-comedy formulas with Farrelly-era gross-out humor, and leaving in Pie's awkward pace and belabored gags, Road Trip's only innovation is its willingness to keep its characters moving from place to place. Thirtyish Breckin Meyer stars as a New York college student who, after failing to hear from his girlfriend (Rachel Blanchard) in Austin for a few days, naturally assumes the worst and throws himself into an affair with pretty co-ed Amy Smart, an event he captures on videotape. After roommates Paulo Costanzo (the smart one) and Seann William Scott (the stud) accidentally mail the tape to Blanchard, the three hit the road with car-owning DJ Qualls (the geek) for a misadventure-filled cross-country road trip. For director and co-writer Todd Phillips, no gag is too obvious and no joke too broad, whether they involve Viagra, foot fetishism, or sperm donation, the last of which allows Road Trip to edge R-rated comedies closer to featuring onscreen money shots. This would be fine if the jokes worked, but they usually don't. The road-movie template forces periodic changes of scenery, and the four leads (particularly Qualls, who looks every inch the scrawny misfit) have an affable appeal despite their one-dimensional characters. But dumb is dumb and funny is funny, and the two don't unite here, though there's a mercenary canniness to the whole thing that can't be ignored. Unlike many teen comedies, Road Trip gives at least part of its target audience—adolescent boys on the prowl for abundant nudity—exactly what it wants, bringing in prankster du jour Tom Green to serve as master of ceremonies. But while Green's humor can work on the small screen, it doesn't here. If anyone seeking bare flesh finds other reasons to stick around, it will only lend validity to the old superstition about masturbation and blindness. (Note: Beware of movies with dorm-room posters trumpeting bands at least five years past their sell-by date.)

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