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Film / Interstate 60

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Mythical roads? Where we're going, we don't need mythical roads.

Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road is a 2002 dramedy film and the directorial debut of screenwriter Bob Gale (Back to the Future).

James Marsden stars as Neal Oliver, a young man who struggles with standing up to his father and choosing a life direction. On his 22nd birthday, he's visited by O.W. Grant (Gary Oldman), who grants Neal's wish to "find an answer for his life."

A meaningful road trip ensues, where Neal is exposed to different philosophies and adventures, including a quest to find a beautiful woman (Amy Smart) who has been appearing to Neal in visions.

Interstate 60 contains examples of:

  • Amoral Attorney: Neil ends up in a town inhabited solely by lawyers looking for excuses to sue anyone in sight.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Neil tells Ray that he must be dreaming and surely will wake up. Then there's a beeping noise, but it isn't an alarm clock but just Neil's wrist alarm.
  • Batman Gambit: When in jail on trumped up charges, Neil requests Bob Cody as a character witness due to knowing that all of the lying in town will set him off and get Neil sprung.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Almost every character who interacts with O.W. Grant experiences this.
  • Berserk Button: Bob Cody utterly despises dishonesty and likes to threaten liars.
  • Black-Hole Belly: The first man Neil meets whose wish O.W. granted. He loved eating and wanted to order everything on the menu but was frustrated by the limited capacity of his stomach. He made a wish which he explicitly says seemed to have given him a black hole for a stomach. Now he has to eat massive amounts of food 6-7 times a day so as not to starve and eating has become a chore. Plus, it's expensive to eat that much food so he needs to sucker people into large bets to afford his meals.
  • Card Sharp: Ray does a card trick in his first scene, asking Neil to tell which card is in his hand that he's shuffling through, only to throw off Neil by using black hearts and red spades (the opposite of the normal colors), to lecture Neil about perception.
  • Catchphrase: Neil's dad is fond of the phrase "you can take that to the bank."
  • Cool Big Sis: Neil's sister Nancy is constantly supportive of him and can pick up on his insecurities. Neil in turn refers to her as his best friend, saying God put her on earth "to keep me from going insane."
  • Courtroom Antics: Neal calls his dynamite-strapped friend Bob Cody to the stand, knowing that the town's shenanigans will lead to Cody starting the timer on his body bomb.
  • Deal with the Devil/Magically-Binding Contract: Lloyd invokes both of these when Neal accepts the job by having Neal add a drop of blood to his signature.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Neil's girlfriend Sally is perfectly nice but Neil says they don't have much in common and that he only started dating her as a knee jerk reaction to his last girlfriend (she was judgmental about his art so he found a new girlfriend who was indifferent) and plans to break up with her, which he presumably does at the end.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Neal's car explodes after it goes over a cliff.
  • Fantastic Drug: Euphoria, the town of Banton's trade.
  • Girl of My Dreams: Played straight with Lynn.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: One proposed origin of O.W. Grant (by the man with the deep stomach) is that he's the son of an immigrated Leprechaun and a Cheyenne Indian Woman. When his land was lost he became a nomad using his magical powers across the country.
  • Hero of Another Story: Terminally ill Bob Cody travelling to fight against lies by threatening to explode.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Right as Neil's dad is ranting about the poor quality of his art, Nancy comes in saying Neil won a contest.
  • Intro-Only Point of View: A pair of college kids in a bar (one of whom is writing a thesis about genie mythology and how there is no known American counterpart) whom the man with the bottomless stomach tells about Grant.
  • Jackass Genie: OW Grant does this with wishes he considers greedy or short-sighted.
    Grant: I'm just a guy who likes to mess with people's heads
  • Life Saving Misfortune: An executive is getting out of his car when a cyclist crashes into his car door, as a result of which the executive realizes he will be late for an extremely important meeting. Frustrated, he wishes that the event in question had never happened, which is granted by the cyclist. This time around, the executive gets out of his car safely, but is too distracted by his phone call to notice the enormous truck coming his way, which fatally runs him over.
  • Magic 8-Ball: Neal gets it after wishing for "An answer to my life." The ball does give correct, if vague answers. Near the end Neal throws the ball away in frustration, but by then it's obvious the true answer is at the end of the road, and the ball was only guiding him in the right direction.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Lynn. Her character hardly develops without Neal. She is the girl of his dreams, she is beautiful, she changes his life, she is good at bed... What else do you need to be an MPDG?
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Was Neal's road trip the result of a concussion, dream, or hallucination, or was it supernatural intervention by the only wish-granting entity native to North America?
    Grant: Well, what do you want, kid? I just gave you not one explanation, but six, all of them reasonable! If you want an answer, pick one. It won't change anything.
  • Missing Floor: Neal is going to an appointment on the 13th floor of a building where he will learn the answers about his dream girl. One problem: the elevator doesn't have a button for the 13th floor! To get there, he presses the buttons for 10 and 3.
  • The Omniscient: Ray. At one point he reveals a knowledge about what kind of car Neil has and when Neil asks how he knew, Ray hands him a sealed envelope predicting that Neil would say that exact phrase at that exact time.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: After Neil meets Lynn and makes his delivery on Interstate 60, he wakes up back in his normal life. Then, coincidentally, he meets Lynn again at an art show, but she acts as if she's never met him before. However, the painting he made after consummating his relationship with Lynn during his adventure is on display at the art show!
  • Pet the Dog: The irritable businessman (a cameo by Michael J. Fox) who meets Grant at the beginning did seem concerned about Grant when he fell down after hitting his car door.
  • The Pollyanna: Neil's friend and coworker Otis is an optimist who doesn't see anything bad with his life.
    Otis: If I want some different I could make it different.
  • Really Gets Around: Neil and Grant pick up a hitchhiker who is looking for a perfect sexual experience and has had 2,461 tries at it.
  • Road Trip Plot: Neal must travel the mythical Interstate 60 to discover his life's "answer."
  • Secret Test of Character: Lynn pulls this on Neal after he rescues her from jail.
  • Small-Town Tyrant: When Neil wins a bet about how much the man with no stomach can eat (purely on a hunch) one of the bettors is revealed to the the local sheriff and, despite evidence to the contrary, calls Neil a hustler and takes back all of the money he won, as well as all the money in his wallet, even though most of it wasn't even his money.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: Bob Cody lives like this. This way he can instantly (and fatally) punish anyone he catches lying.
  • Troll: O.W. Grant highly recommends this as a hobby.
  • Unexpected Virgin: Grant, due to losing his penis in a childhood accident.
  • You See, I'm Dying: Bob Cody, who decides that since he has nothing to lose, he'll strap a bomb to himself and take anyone who doesn't repent of lying with him.