(1996) directed by Matthew Bright – starring Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Wolfgang Bodison, Dan Hedaya, Brooke Shields, and Amanda Plummer

Synopsis: Think ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ meets ‘Pulp Fiction’ meets ‘The Green Mile’ meets Law&Order. Reese plays the symbolic Little Red Riding Hood (her name is Vanessa, but she wears red—close enough, I guess), who flees home to make the journey to her Grandma’s place in Northern California. Along the way she meets Kiefer Sutherland, who plays youth counselor Bob Wolverton. (hint hint) Oh, right, and there’s news of an I-5 serial killer; troubles at home with Vanessa’s parents getting arrested; and eventual troubles in a juvenile correction facililty while Vanessa’s trial (for something that happens on the way to Grandma’s house—I wouldn’t want to give away too much) lumbers onward. There’s a fair amount of callous violence and blood, odd juxtapositions (this would be from the Little Red Riding Hood motif) and too-numerous-to-count obscenity-studded-obloquies.

Review: Given the persistently dark and dreary circumstances permeating throughout the duration of the film, it’s amazing how much comic energy ‘Freeway’ actually manages to muster. Some people might be offended, sure, but my guess is that those people aren’t the target audience for a movie that takes the story of Little Red Riding Hood and casts it in a perveted, callous world. Not as high-camp as you might expect, ‘Freeway’ nonetheless manages to skewer countless targets, from social institutions and norms to, well, just about everything. By the time the credits roll, you’re not entirely sure what the point was, even though there’s no question of the movie having made an impression; despite appearances, this is not a thoughtless comedic romp. Still, there are problems. Mostly that Freeway is never entirely sure what it wants to do, and, as a result, often tries to do eight or nine things at once, never bothering to devote its attention to any one thing. The only thing that keeps this movie from missing its mark completely is the overarching (isn’t that a great word? overarching!) story of LRRH, which at the very least gives a rough idea of direction to the movie as a whole. Without LRRH, you have the sense that this movie would probably get distracted and fall apart at the seams, veering off on some completely worthless tangent. As it is, plot and character development seem basically arbitrary and random, but at least stay entertaining and provocative, even when you’re not sure exactly what’s happening. Is Freeway a great movie? No. Is it original? Yes. Is it grotesquely, irreverently over-the-top funny? That probably depends on you. I thought it was, but I can see how someone else might not.

Rating: [•••½] out of [•••••]

Etc:: AllMovie info; IMDB info