Men behaving badly

World Traveler

Directed by Bart Freundlich

(Billy Crudup, Julianne Moore, Karen Allen)





Ever since Sal Paradise first stuck out his thumb in Jack Kerouac’s beloved novel On The Road, we’ve held a special place in our pop culture heart for The Great American Road Trip.

Billy Crudup stars as Cal, a successful architect/alcoholic WASP from New York with a beautiful wife, cute kid, and one hell of a mid-life crisis. Cal skips his son’s birthday and opts for hitting the highway in the family station wagon. Along the way, he encourages a recovering boozehound to start drinking again, sleeps with and promptly abandons various floozies, and tells off his absentee dad. In short, it’s got my vote for Film Least Likely To Ever Be Shown At A “Promise Keeper” Retreat. Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights) makes the most of her creepy hitchhiker part, but even she comes off more annoying then haunting. With enough dream sequences to make even Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys) blush, the only brief bright spot is a creative soundtrack that regularly flip flops from Willie Nelson to electronica acts like Death In Vegas.

Directors Todd Solondz (Happiness) and Larry Clark (Kids) have both made a healthy career capitalizing on un-likeable characters, but the difference with their work lies in their unique ability to make the audience connect at a significant level with scumbags and losers. Perhaps casting a young Jack Nicholson in the lead might have saved this picture, but the overall premise itself is morally bankrupt. Driving around aimlessly to find yourself or blaming your parents for everything is not only clichéd, it’s the type of irresponsibility that breeds our current Victim Generation. Abandoning your family isn’t romantic; you’re just being a jerk.

It’s fascinating to note that Hollywood has recycled everything but My Mother The Car: The Movie and yet has consistently ignored Kerouac, one of the most read American authors of our time. Until then, we’re still basically stuck with flaming piles of dog vomit like this.

-Nathan Hall


World Traveler shows tonight at the Lagoon.