Freeway (1996)
(Release Date: August 26, 1996 [Say, that's my 22nd birthday, oh wait... it isn't!])
(Premiere Date: January 1996 [Sundance Film Festival])

Freeway is a Free Range Turkey!

Who Let the Dogs Out?
Who? Who? Who? Who? Who?

The Free-Basing Critic!!!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

Freeway will always stand as a Milestone in the careers of Kiefer Sutherland, Reese Witherspoon, Dan Hedaya, Amanda Plummer, Brooke Shields, Michael T. Weiss, Bokeem Woodbine, Brittany Murphy, Oliver Stone and Danny Elfman!
No... No, it's not that hot!

And that's a shame. See, there are always leaders and there are always followers. Whoreywood loves to churn out the exact same smeared celluloid as often and as cheaply as possible, until some jackass comes along and changes the rules with an "Unlikely Hit"! In 1994, that jackass was Quentin Tarantino , the "Unlikey Hit" was Pulp Fiction, and for the next couple of years everyone was playing Catch Up with the Catsup-soaked franchises.

This time, the gratuitous violence and profanity-laced imitation-QT Dialog (as omnipresent in the mid-nineties as "Hidden Tracks" were on Rock CDs) are all draped limply (and loosely) across the plot of the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood". I have to emphasize the limp and loose accusation because Freeway is about a surprisingly unsympathetic teenager named Vanessa Lutz (Witherspoon) who undergoes a journey to Grandma's house (though she's never met the lady), after both parents (Plummer and Weiss) are arrested, and on the way meets Sutherland's Bob Wolverton (get it?), whom she pops a cap in Gangland style (in self defense, of course).

So that writer/ director Matthew Bright's little movie is longer than a half hour (dammit!), the big bad Wolverton survives, if only to remind the viewer that this is supposed to be Little Red Riding Hood by throwing Sutherland (in drag) into Granny's bed as Witherspoon quips "Them are some mighty big fuckin' teeth ya got there, Bob." Along the way we're treated to all the other "stars" padding out the film like a pair of Biker's Shorts. They mostly recap the thin plot by delivering lame lines guaranteed to make you cringe with eye-rolling performances, that I'm sure they're trying to white-out from their respective resumes.

Amazingly, the most striking thing about this movie is not that such big-name artists (of all stripes) attached themselves to a bad flick by an unproven director who would go on to make After Diff'rent Strokes: When the Laughter Stopped and Modern Vampires. No, the most incredible thing is that even with such talent, Freeway manages to devolve into nothing more than a Free Range Turkey, absolutely joyless in its execution, and filled with completely unsympathetic characters, including, but mercilessly not limited to, the "protagonist". Just when I was about to care a skosh about Vanessa (and, by proxy, poor Matthew Bright), Witherspoon would deftly spit out one of Bright's worst lines in that Southern Twang. The combination of which put my guts into an intestinal press.

Still, these five reels of Toilet Paper have managed to gain fans, probably for the talent found herein. It's true that Kiefer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon haven't ever been worse in a movie, and the supporting cast does little more than respond in anguished just-pay-me mode, but even in a bad movie, Witherspoon and Sutherland don't completely suck sea sludge, even if the material they're aping like trained seals, really, really does. Look, any movie that eats ass in spite of a monologue by Brittany Murphy about liking girls, followed by a brief make-out session with Reese Witherspoon, is basically a sucking chest wound, just begging for euthanasia in triage.

Again, though, in the Annals of Movie Lore, this film crouches low as the valley between peaks for Kiefer Sutherland, Reese Witherspoon, Dan Hedaya, Amanda Plummer, Brooke Shields, Michael T. Weiss, Bokeem Woodbine, Brittany Murphy, Executive Producer Oliver Stone and Composer Danny Elfman, and by that respect, it's a time capsule of sorts. Not a very good one... no, it's a time capsule that essentially follows the numbers of a Quentin Tarantino vehicle before anyone even knew what those numbers really were (in this case, it was number two!). But hey, History is History, and if you're game for expanding your horizons and seeing your favorite actors in a urinary tract infection of a film, all the while seeing how it's not just Disney who can ruin a good fairy tale, by all means, see the Spelling Entertainment production of Freeway! Though most video stores won't carry it, the $5.88 bin at Wal-Mart sure does... in spades. Fans or no fans, celebrities or no celebrities, sequel or no sequel, I can't warrant giving Freeway any stars, man... this movie is a DOG! If you do end up seeing it, and fall in ever increasing romantic love with it, might I also recommend The Third Society, Fatal Justice and I, Zombie! I'll see the rest of you in the next reel!

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