One for the road

by Sean McGrath

Elwood Blues: “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

Jake Blues: “Hit it.”

-Blues Brothers


For most, the collegiate road trip is recommended but not obligatory. A chance for you and your buddies to hit the asphalt, spend twenty after twenty on essential fast food sustenance while pushing your mom’s Toyota Camry to the point of collapse.

Joy Ride is one such film that examines the fun and despair to be experienced on the road. The premise of which is that instead of hot, horny coeds following you in their Dodge Neon, it’s a grim faced stalker of death in an 18-wheeled killing machine. YAY!

LeeLee Sobieski plays Venna, one of the very few female roles in the movie. Which, she says, is one of the reasons she did the film.

“I’ve never played a chick before and this [Venna] was definitely a real college chick.”

In fact, Sobieski just started her freshman year at Brown College near New York.

“It’s so exciting to go to college, and it was so nice to be there on Tuesday (Sept. 11th), everyone got together and talked about it, and it was so nice to become aware of different opinions with intelligent people.”

Teaming up with Paul Walker and Steve Zahn for the movie, Sobieski seems to be the balance for two very polarized acting styles.

“It was fun to be with those guys. Steve will say something hilarious and then suddenly the cameras are rolling and you have to act very tense.”

As her filmography lengthens, more and more offers get tossed her way.

“My parents are my manager and my mom screens through scripts because we share similar tastes.”

Sobieski, a very eloquent speaker, mostly attributes the motive to do Joy Ride to director John Dahl, who says his first interest in filmmaking is owed to Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. In speaking with him, he stressed the importance of creating tension.

“I like putting people into really interesting, suspenseful situations and pushing it. Probably the one movie that I’ve made that’s different than most of my other films is Rounders, because nobody dies in it.”

Matt Damon and Edward Norton got off lucky, as the villain in Joy Ride seems to have a knack for murder.

“We worked with ‘Rusty Nail’ being damaged goods and tried to get that point across in the dialogue,” said Dahl regarding the development of the bad guy.

“In the original script he was slightly disfigured so it sort of made sense that he rode around in a truck and never had much contact with people.”

The final cut of the film features Rusty Nail heard, but very rarely seen.

When asked what separates Joy Ride from the onslaught of the teen slasher flicks that have plagued the Hollywood mainstream, Dahl responded, “We were going for a more character-oriented suspense film, rather than horror.”

Much of that character drive comes from Steve Zahn, who, growing up in the small town of Marshall, Minnesota, became very adept at handling the CB radio.

“Steve knew all the lingo,” Dahl chuckles.


Joy Ride opens today in theaters nationwide. See page 11 for the review of Joy Ride.