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— Paul Newman, Hud

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Road Trip is a bad college comedy with just a handful of laughs. It will never be a good movie, and it will only be a funny movie if you sit in a theater with a big crowd of college students.

A Videotaped Tryst

On the road without a car

In a bracketing story, Tom Green (of MTV fame), playing 7th-year undergrad Barry, is giving a tour of Ithaca college. He tells his audience of would-be students and their parents about a legendary love in one particular dormitory....

Josh and Tiffany (Breckin Meyer and Rachel Blanchard), have been sweethearts since childhood, and they still keep in touch, even though Josh is at Ithaca and Tiffany studies in Austin.

One lonely night Josh sleeps with another girl, and he videotapes his tryst for the extra excitement. There is a mix-up, and the incriminating tape is accidentally sent to Tiffany. With the tape on its way, the only thing for Josh to do is to drive to Austin and try to beat the U.S. Mail.

Josh gets three of his friends to go with him. E.L. (Seann William Scott) is the party animal who can get his friends to agree to anything. Ruben (Paulo Costanzo) is the guy who fills his brain with philosophy, trivia, and any drug that might be interesting. Kyle (DJ Qualls) is the token scrawny nerd who gets to come along because he has access to a car.

Not Enough Laughs

The situation is perfect for a college comedy, but Road Trip doesn’t have enough laughs to capitalize.

It’s supposed to be a challenge — that’s why they call it a shortcut. Otherwise, they’d just call it ‘The Way.’
— Paulo Costanzo as Ruben

For one thing, the jokes were not fast-paced enough. Instead of exhausting me with joke after joke, like There’s Something About Mary, Road Trip made me wait for every joke, and I dutifully anticipated each one. During the pauses between jokes I found myself getting ready for the next moment of comic release.

My audience seemed to feel the same way, like they were primed to laugh, like they were waiting for the slightest comic trigger. Once we were so eager to laugh that when the woman next to me blew her nose it got a polite wave of chuckles.

Another part of the problem lies somewhere between the writers and the actors. Either Phillips (who also wrote the screenplay) can’t write college dialogue, or the actors didn’t know how to work with the material. In any case, many of the jokes felt forced. E.L. agrees to the trip by saying “you expect me to stay here and learn?” He sounds more like someone’s vague idea of a college student than an actual student.

There are a few reasons to recommend Road Trip. The camaraderie of the four main characters was genuine and eventually interesting. Green’s comic interludes were sick and amusing. Some of the jokes were unexpected, and therefore quite funny.

But on the whole, Road Trip is not worth the trip to the theater.