With sexually-charged material that includes the joy of prostate massage, the effect of Viagra on senior citizens, the videotaping of sexual hijinks, and the infamous 'French toast' scene, the latest teen 'gross-out' comedy out-grosses last year's entry, "American Pie". However, unlike its predecessor, which confused the two very different concepts of 'gross' and 'funny' (having one does not necessarily guarantee you have the other), "Road Trip" actually has some truly hilarious moments, and I actually felt ashamed for laughing out loud at what is essentially yet another mindless and vulgar teen sexploitation flick.
The hapless hero in this go-around is the clean-cut Josh Porter (Breckin Meyer of "Go") of New York's Ithaca College, who is in the midst of a long-distance relationship with his long-time girlfriend Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard, who plays Cher in TV's "Clueless"), who is attending school in Austin, Texas. When he is unable to reach her by telephone over a span of a few days, followed with a verbal run-in with Tiffany's haughty roommate, Josh gives into his fears and assumes the worst-- Tiffany must be cheating on him. Hurt and confused, Josh succumbs to the seductive charms of fellow co-ed Beth (Amy Smart of "Outside Providence"), who has had a long-standing crush on him. Caught up in the passion of the moment, Beth decides to record their lovemaking with Josh's video camera.
Unfortunately, in the morning after, Josh's life quickly begins to unwind. Tiffany leaves an apologetic message on his answering machine, revealing that she was incommunicado because of a sudden death in the family. And if that wasn't enough, Josh's roommate has mistakenly mailed the 'sex tape' to Tiffany. Desperate to prevent Tiffany from seeing the evidence of his indiscretion, Josh sets out on an 1800-mile long road trip to Austin, Texas to intercept the tape, accompanied by three of his friends. Kyle (D.J. Qualls) is a rail-thin geek who, against his better judgement, lends Josh the use of his dad's car. E.L. (Seann William Scott of "American Pie") is a sex-crazed and impulsive party-monger who has a knack for getting into trouble. Finally, Rubin (Paulo Costanzo) is an intellectual with a penchant for pot.
Of course, like any road movie, getting there is half the fun. Along the way, the foursome get into all sorts of trouble, including a fiery car accident, a tense stand-off when they try to bluff their way into an all-black fraternity, the theft of a school bus, a run-in with a perpetually tumescent old-timer, and a visit to a sperm bank. Meanwhile, the story also keeps up with the shenanigans of the other characters. Beth, upon learning of Josh's sudden departure to see his supposed ex-girlfriend, becomes miffed and decides to take the same trip to give Josh a piece of her mind and break the news to Tiffany herself. Barry (MTV's Tom Green), a mentally deranged slacker, is left in charge of feeding Josh's pet snake. Finally, Kyle's hot-headed father (Fred Ward of "The Player") comes under the mistaken belief that his son has been kidnapped, and sets out on a cross-country journey to make the would-be kidnappers pay dearly for what they've done.
Probably the biggest improvement of "Road Trip" over "American Pie" is the smaller ensemble that the script works with. "American Pie" had too many characters and subplots to keep track of, and as a result, there was little time for the characters to be developed, let alone have the audience actually care about what happened to them. By keeping its primary focus on four main characters (Josh, E.L., Barry, and Beth), "Road Trip" is able to create some characters for the audience to connect with, which makes the situations that they find themselves in even funnier. And though some of the scenes in "Road Trip" are only there for the sake of shock value (particularly the infamous 'French toast' scene), there are a number of scenes (not enough, though) which actually help round out the main characters and make them fun to watch, such as Kyle's transformation into a 'new man'.
With such low brow material to work with, not much can be said for the acting in "Road Trip", other than to say it is befitting. Meyer is likable as the story's hero, but is frequently upstaged by Scott, whose boundless enthusiasm works in the film's favor. Qualls makes for a perfect nerd, while Green, who does double duty as the film's narrator, adds some comedic flair to an otherwise straightforward story (and also explains the gratuitous nudity contained within). Unfortunately, with the spotty material they are given to work with, Smart, Blanchard, and Costanzo are easily lost in the shuffle.
"Road Trip" is certainly tasteless and low brow as the marketing would suggest. Those in search of the next "American Pie", most likely teenagers, won't be disappointed by what this latest movie has to offer, since it serves up more of the same, only funnier. However, if films in the ilk of "Porky's" and "American Pie" don't appeal to you whatsoever, "Road Trip" certainly won't change your mind.