To Grandmother's house we go.
"You shoulda let me out of the car when I asked you to, Bob. You see what happens when ya got bad manners?"
A 1996 dark comic thriller starring Kiefer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon
When young, spunky, illiterate Vanessa Julia Lutz comes home from school one day, she sees her prostitute mother and abusive, drug-addicted stepfather get carted away by the police. Not keen on being sent to another abusive foster home, Vanessa slips away from her social worker, grabs her red leather jacket and a wicker basket, and heads out to her grandma's house in Stockton, California. Meanwhile, police are on the hunt for the I-5 killer, who murders young girls and dumps their bodies on the Interstate 5 freeway.
Along the way, Vanessa's car breaks down, and she's stuck on the side of the titular freeway. As luck would have it, a kindly, charming psychiatrist named Bob Wolverton picks her up... and with a big grin, leads her away from the road
A wildly hilarious take on juvenile delinquency, the film actually manages to make some excellent points
about the flaws of criminal investigations. But presumably because of Matthew Bright's friendship at the time with Church of Happyology
member Richard Elfman
seems to preach on a little
too much about the evils of psychiatry. Other than that, though, it's an excellent Black Comedy
, full of clever dialogue and awesome
A sequel, Freeway 2
, was made without any connections to... well, anything
. It's actually pretty good and has more lesbians
. And Vincent Gallo
as a wicked witch.
This film provides examples of:
- Author Appeal: The DVD Commentary says so. Some items include Cholas, rebellious characters up against the law, strong female characters etc.
- The Big Bad Wolf: Kiefer Sutherland playing Bob Wolverton, a serial rapist and murderer.
- Costume Porn: Get a load of all Mrs. Wolverton's suits.
- Crapsack World: Vanessa's just barely upscale from trailer trash, and her dream life involves trailer trash. By contrast, Bob's home life is all riches and beauty... but only on the outside.
- Country Matters: Mr. Wolverton shouldn't have called her that...
- Driven to Suicide: Mrs. Wolverton. is Driven to Suicide when she realises the truth.
- Driving a Desk: Count how many times people look at the passenger and not at the road.
- Enforced Method Acting: See those cars Reese Witherspoon was trying to pick up? Many of them weren't actors.
- Evil Plan: Wolverton thought that Vanessa would be one more victim in his killing spree.
- Girls Behind Bars: A rather classical set-up of the trope when Vanessa goes to jail with the token lesbian inmate (Rhonda) and the domineering, aggressive chola Alpha Bitch (Mezquita).
- Hannibal Lecture: Wolverton pulls this on Vanessa.
- Laughing Mad: Bob Wolverton while he is hospitalized.
- Little Dead Riding Hood: Vanessa goes through the first half of the movie with a red jacket. Later she wears a red skirt. A deliberate shout out to Little Red Riding Hood which the movie is partially based on.
- Little Red Fighting Hood: Shoots a rapist on the way to Grandma's house? Yep.
- Meaningful Name: Bob Wolverton
- Never Learned to Read: Vanessa, but she's trying to learn.
- Parental Abandonment: Venessa has been in many foster homes and the plot is kicked off by lossing yet another pair of them.
- Parental Incest: Vanessa's being abused by her stepfather.
- Playing Against Type: Reese Witherspoon, usually devoted to feel-good comedies,and usually at home in the shoes of bubbly, happy-go-lucky cuties, plays a violent, illiterate, White-trash teenage delinquent.
- Serial Killer: The I-5 killer, who kills and rapes young girls, then leaves their bodies on the freeway
- Slasher Smile: Get a good look at Bob Wolverton once his questions get more prying.
- Sociopathic Hero: To be fair, Vanessa brings forth a lot of hell, even to people that might not deserve it.
- There Are No Therapists: Subverted: There are therapists but they're either malicious or unhelpful.
- Mr. Wolverton is a deliberate Take That to a lot of the quack-pop psychologists you'd find in Oprah-ish talk shows. Think Jim Cunningham.
- Traumatic Haircut: Wolverton slices off Vanessa's hair.