Worthwhile 70's road flick
- Durrkk | Ohio/PA border USA | 05/22/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Joyride" is an independent 1977 road flick starring the sons of Desi Arnaz (and Lucy) & John Carradine and the daughters of Tippi Hedren & June Lockhart.
THE STORY: Three footloose youths, two guys and a girl (a young Melanie Griffith) all around the ages of 18-20, decide to leave their dead-end jobs and travel to Alaska. They have some half-baked plan to become salmon fishermen, but they're more likely just looking for adventure, fun and possibly a sense of purpose. Unfortunately they're forced to pick up other dead-end jobs, including working for the oil pipeline. Desperation leads to crime where they acquire a hostage (Anne Lockhart), who ultimately becomes a willing partner.
I never heard of this film before and took a chance picking it up. I was under the impression that it was a fun 70's car-chase flick like "Eat My Dust" or "Grand Theft Auto." Although it shares aspects of those types of films I was surprised to discover that "Joyride" is essentially a serious road flick, the second half taking on elements of "Bonnie And Clyde."
Although this is a fairly low-budget independent film it's quite professionally made. The Washington locations are great and the acting is fine. Anne Lockhart is easy on the eyes and Melanie isn't bad either.
I encourage you to read M.G. DaVega's review from May 11, 2008, because he accurately points out what may turn some viewers off. The story has a meandering vibe because the kids are living aimless lives. They're not necessarily "bad kids" or unlikable (although they later turn bad via bad choices); in fact, one part of the story shows one of the guys boldly taking a stand for what's right while working security for the pipeline, but it ends up costing them. DaVega rightly argues that the viewer is unsympathetic towards the youths because they increasingly turn to crime as the story progresses. He calls them "half-wits" who do stupid things and engage in unsavory & deplorable acts like shoplifting, public drunkenness, pissing contests (literally), auto theft, breaking & entering, and armed robbery of the pipeline company.
DaVega also points out that they (seemingly) learn no moral lesson through their experiences and are not much different at the end than at the beginning.
These valid criticisms will certainly turn some viewers off, but I'd like to point out that the events in the story aren't even close to being as morally shocking & appalling as in, say, 1966's "The Wild Angels."
Although the characters seemingly learn no moral lesson, the film itself is a moral lesson, not to mention it smacks of reality. I can remember when I was in my mid-to-late teens, living an aimless existence and doing incredibly stupid things, just as dumb and senseless as depicted in the movie. So I can relate to the kids, their situations and foolish choices. Simply put, "Joyride" is a portrait of lost, fallen humanity. The title is sarcastic because the kid's adventure is more laborious and miserable than fun and joyful (but, don't get me wrong, there are some lighthearted moments).
The film successfully depicts the meaningless, aimless and darkened nature of life "under the sun," in particularly for those who are unaware of the designs of the Creator, or who simply refuse to seek/acknowledge the Almighty. Read the relatively short ancient book of Ecclesiastes to get my drift.
Anyway, the picture ends with the kids getting lost and stranded in the Northwest wilderness, which is reminiscent of that family that got stranded near the Rogue River in Oregon a couple of winters back.
BOTTOM LINE: DaVega is wrong to say that anyone who likes this film has "extremely low standards for movies." I can see why the film turned him off, but his objections are based soley on moral grounds. This doesn't mean "Joyride" isn't worthwhile or well-made for an independent 70's flick. On the contrary, the meandering story keeps the viewer's attention (which is one of the most important gauges for discerning the worthiness of a picture), and the film itself makes a potent moral point about the fallen nature of humanity. Plus the viewer gets a good glimpse of what it was like to work on the pipeline back then.
If nothing else, "Joyride" is worth seeing because it's like traveling back in time to 1977."