Interstate 60 (film, 2008)


A DVD review from Death Ray 13.

THREE AND A HALF STARS

2002/15/116mins

Director: Bob Gale

Writer: Bob Gale

Starring: James Marsden, Gary Oldman, Christopher Lloyd, Kurt Russell

A big, fat slice of American whimsy, chock full of gentle comedy

Interstate 60 is a road that does not exist. Nor does this film, for that matter, at least as far as the British public are concerned. Interstate 60 has not been released over here until now, even though it has a fair smattering of stars and was written and directed by the man responsible for the script and story of the Back to The Future films.

Perhaps it’s the movie’s low-key tone. Not a lot happens, really, Interstate 60 is the for what the term low-key entertainment was invented. It’s a kind of a chilled out The Wizard of Oz, or a sojourn in the pleasanter end of The Twilight Zone, as young Neal (Marsden) goes on a literally magical road trip down the titular mythical highway in the company of a wish-granting demi-Leprechaun (Oldman). It’s not too threatening, and Neal has some adventures, then wins the chick and job of his dreams. The subtext, about defining ourselves, is underplayed, and Gale’s direction, his first go in the folding black chair, competent yet a bit flaccid. It’s a late summer afternoon kind of film, all drowsy. It certainly struggles to find its audience, with language that bumped it up to an R-rating in Uncle Sam land, yet themes and ideas that are commensurate with better kid’s entertainments.

This is the US of weird small towns, some vaguely sinister, some not, standing in for the more magical Brigadoons and Ruritanias of old Europe. In that it’s akin to Big Fish, though Burton’s film has a touch more carnie glamour. Neither film is totally successful, precisely because American culture is too young to have the hidden depths of wisdom these movies seek to reveal. In the end, they’re both about finding your own bit of the American Dream, even if it’s different to that which your parents have lined up for you.

It is witty, there is plenty of incident, but, but… It’s a tough one to call, though Mrs. Haley loved it. So, depending on your mood, watching Interstate 60 will either feel like slipping into a lovely warm nest of cotton wool, or choking on the same.

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