If when you were an innocent tot listening to the old fable of Little Red Riding you wished
Little Red Riding Hood would use more vulgarity, your prize has arrived. It is in the form of the 1996 twisted film
Director and writer Matthew Bright gathered quite a nice cast to tell his modern day story of
Little Red Riding Hood. Of course, Reese Witherspoon was just starting to climb the celebrity ladder and Kiefer Sutherland
was falling down that same ladder before peaking over the top again with the recent success of TV's "24" and the film "Phone
Bright pulls together a good supporting cast as well. He gets Amanda Plummer fresh
off of "Pulp Fiction" to play a mother who earns her spending money from the world's oldest profession. Dan Hedaya
and Wolfgang Bodison play ploice detectives investigating an assault case. Bokeem Woodbine and Brittney Murphy round
out the cast.
When Bright sat down to write his pitch black comedy, he must of thought of Little Red Riding
Hood in the form of a dim-witted teenager who wears skimpy clothing and comes from a white trash heritage.
In short, he pictured Vanessa Lutz (Witherspoon).
Apparently, Bright saw his wolf in the form of a creepy child psychologist with big, red glasses
and slicked back hair. It ended up being Kiefer Sutherland as Bob Wolverton.
How Bright brings his principle characters is clever, but that's about as good as it gets in
"Freeway." The film is stuck somewhere between an inadequate black comedy and a edgy satire of the old story.
That leaves little room for any sort of clarity in the storytelling. The detectives never
stray from the stereotype tough, serious detective type. Vanessa and Bob never stray from a tongue in cheek camp
Witherspoon and Sutherland are both fine thespians, but I can't, scratch that, won't buy
them in their grand standing. Every line and twitch is played as an over the top scoffing of sorts.
Well, for the sake of those who find the premise intriguing, here's a basic plot overview.
Vanessa Lutz is a sixteen year old girl in a poor community represented with decrepit trailers and white trash occupants.
Her mother is a prostitute who swears at her daughter, who in turn swears right back at her. Vanessa's step-father
is a lowlife druggy who sits around the trailer all day smoking crack in his athletic t-shirt (aka - wife beater).
When Mrs. Lutz is arrested by an undercover cop and Mr. Lutz is found in a drug-induced
stupor, Vanessa faces a stay in a foster home.
But she manages to handcuff a Children's Services worker to her bed. She sets
out to find the grandmother she never knew with wicker basket in tow.
Her stolen car breaks down and a creepy-to-everyone-else-but-Vanessa Bob Wolverton offers her
a ride when he can't fix the smoking automobile. She opens up to him about her problems because he speaks in a
soft, comforting tone and seems to understand what she's going through.
After a lovely dinner, he makes his move on her, cutting her ponytail off with a razor blade.
She's angry and tries to get away. He threatens her and acts all weird. Vanessa manages to reach into the
backseat and retreive a gun her boyfriend gave her before he was gunned down. She shoots him in the neck.
But he won't die, so he crawls out of the car and makes his way towards sweet freedom.
Vanessa shoots him twice in the back and another time in the head point blank.
But he won't die...again. After Vanessa heads over to a diner to get some grub, a hideously
bloody Bob stumbles into an ER, leading to Vanessa's arrest. The cops don't believe her story because she's got
an extensive record and he's Johnny Q. Goodcitizen.
Then the story moves on. If you're like me, and I assume you're probably not,
you won't care after that point. The film's unusual brand of humor gets old and the characters get annoying. Even
if you're not like me, you probably are a resonable human being. If that's true, you'll agree that "Freeway"
is a waste of time.