Highway (2001)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Jared Leto, Jake Gyllenhall, Selma Blair

Here’s yet another movie where you say to yourself, ’I’ve heard of all of these actors. Why haven’t I heard of this movie?’ In this case, it’s because the movie in question, ’Highway’, isn’t very good. ’Highway’ stars Jared Leto and Jake Gyllenhaal, as Jack and Pilot, two life-long friends from Las Vegas. Jack is a pool-boy and Pilot is a drug-dealer. After an indiscretion with the wife of a very jealous and violent man, Jack and Pilot decide to leave Vegas and hit the road to Seattle. On the way, they meet Cassie (Selma Blair), a hitchhiker with a mysterious past, and Johnny the Fox (John C. McGinley), a hippy drug-dealer who is a philosopher at heart. As they make their way to Washington state this motley crew has several misadventures which bring them closer together.

’Highway’ so badly wants to be ’Go’ that it’s embarrassing — but it doesn’t even come close. The film is blatantly over-directed. Apparently, director James Cox didn’t have enough faith in the film to let it tell its own story, so every shot is intercut with another shot, creating an annoying style, which hampers any chance that ’Highway’ had of being engaging. Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg has written some questionable movies in the past (’Con Air’ ’Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)), but this is strictly amateur hour. There isn’t a single likable character in the movie and the narrative is one-dimensional at best. Some plot synopsis of ’Highway’ have mentioned that the characters are heading to Seattle to attend the vigil following Kurt Cobain’s death, but this is only a very minor plot point in the film, and has very little to do with the story. The actors here do give fine performances, especially McGinley in a totally whacked-out role, and Jeremy Piven in a memorable cameo (they clearly just turned on the camera and let him go nuts), but that is not enough to save a film seems to be incapable of entertaining, unless you enjoy seeing yet another film in which Gen-Xers are portrayed as drug-gobbling morons. ’Highway’ ends with a quote from Jack Kerouac, but it should’ve have begun with a quote from a New Line executive telling us what we were in for and exactly why they had dumped this movie onto home video.

Speaking of New Line Home Video, they have gone far beyond the call of duty with the DVD transfer of ’Highway’. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and has been letterboxed at 2.35:1. The transfer is beautiful and there is hardly a defect to be seen. The image is sharp and clear, and there is hardly any grain on the picture. The colors are rich and true, featuring realistic fleshtones. No artifacting or distortion is noticeable, nor are there any problems caused by edge enhancement. The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel audio track gets off to a roaring start during the opening corporate logo, as the sound of a roulette ball circles the room. This track continues to impress, with clear dialogue, a nice bass response during the rock score, and well timed surround sound effects. Overall, this is a great transfer for a less than mediocre film. There are no extras on this DVD.