Joy Ride

MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for violence/terror and language.

Reviewed by: Eric Scott Robertson

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adult
Genre: Thriller
Length: 1 hr. 36 min.
Year of Release: 2001
USA Release:
Paul Walker in “Joy Ride” Leelee Sobieski in “Joy Ride”
Featuring Steve Zahn
Paul Walker
Walton Goggins
Leelee Sobieski
Rachel Singer
Director John Dahl
Producer Chris Moore
JJ Abrams
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Trademark logo.
20th Century Studios
, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company

“Joy Ride” is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat thriller movie with a lot of action, and I loved it. This film is about two college-age brothers, Lewis and Fuller Thomas (Paul Walker and Steve Zahn), who take a road trip across beautiful Wyoming to pick up their girl friend Venna (Leelee Sobieski). What starts out as an innocent prank on their newly-installed CB radio turns deadly as the boys realize that they are being stalked by a madman trucker seeking revenge for their practical joke. The film depicts the gut-wrenching chase through Wyoming and Nebraska as the trio hides out in hotels and truck stops. At one point they are even chased through a cornfield by the psycho in his semi truck.

Except for some incredibly unnecessary uses of the f-word, this movie is relatively clean. There are no sex scenes, though there is some nonsexual nudity (two bare male behinds) in one scene and some heavy drinking depicted in another. There is also some slight blood and gore in a couple of places, but nothing worse than you would see on “E.R.” on Thursday nights.

Paul Walker gives an extremely impressive performance and I believe we will continue to see great things from him in future productions. There were some stunning special effects in a couple of scenes, and I was impressed by both the photography and the script.

Some wholesome sentiments in this film included a familial demonstration of brotherly love as the brothers look out for each other’s safety each time they are in danger. There are also hints at sibling rivalry. (In one scene, Fuller expresses to his brother the resentment he felt toward his parents for making him feel like a failure, and in another scene Lewis and Fuller appear to be competing for Venna’s affection.)

Because of the language and some intense scenes, this movie is not for young or impressionable viewers. I don’t like hearing the f-word in movies, but in this flick I was able to get past it for the joy of the suspense. However, if foul language easily offends you, “Joy Ride” is a film best left alone.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—This movie almost started out suspenseful, then lost any suspense it may have had when they almost got run over for the eighth time. it’s the kinda movie where questions like, “Will they escape?” or “Will they all live?” are completely pointless because you know they are going to make it. I give this movie two thumbs up for effort, but for overall product I give a 2½/5! The Carebears movie was scarier than this. It at least had some degree of suspense.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
Matthew Magnus, age 17
Neutral[the film] kept me wide awake plus the good choice they made with the music… kinda made me scared… and this wasn’t the type of very predictable movies… I just didn’t know what to expect everytime something comes up… the creator of this show had great imagination… but it was just totally not realistic. There wasn’t any sex scenes… which was good (I was watching it with my mom!) …and language wise, they were mild with the “f” words and all the other vulgar words… I’m not saying that it is worth the watch though… you’ll be better off saving the money… and the children will get serious nightmares if they catch this…
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
Grace, age 17
Neutral—This movie had some outstanding action scenes but the plot was so implausible that you started asking questions like, “How did that truck driver manage to do that?” The truck driver had more tricks up his sleeve than Houdini. Many of the events could not possible have happened. Other than that, it was okay except for the profanity and the bare butts.
My Ratings: [2]
Terry Rehak, age 61
Joy Ride is essentially a movie about a car-load of people being pursued by psychotic truck-driver bent on revenge. That said, it works very well on the level that it was intended for. The performances are well-done (especially by Steve Zahn), the dialog is well-written and often funny, and the film is so believably terrifying that I, like the characters didn’t question all the logic such as how Rusty Nail could always see the trio but we couldn’t always see him. There are several edge of your seat moments like when Rusty Nail pursues them through a cornfield and creepy moments like when his truck fades from view like a phantom. There are clever moments like how Zahn avoids a barfight and another when he talks his way into Leelee Sobieski’s motel room. The twist at the end is clever if not totally original. Joy Ride contains profanity, brief male nudity (in a funny scene), some gruesome violence (although the film doesn’t bludgeon us over the head with it) and a sexual undercurrent…
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
Andrew, age 25
Positive—This movie with its up-dated version of “Pshyco” music made for a very fun thriller. It definitely kept you on the edge of your seat beginning to end. The acting, script and whole movie-making quality was very well done. It also had just the right amount of humor provided by Steve Zahn to make it all the more entertaining. I would warn you from a moral standpoint this movie does have a few “F” words, one scene where their bare behinds are shown, and a few very brief scenes of blood/gore. If you don’t mind that, than I would definitely suggest this movie!
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
Melissa, age 15
Neutral—Joy Ride was a decent way to spend some time. The story was not totally original if you’re old enough to remember Dual directed by Spielberg. This film is better but probably too frightening for a child younger than late teens. There are some unnecessary uses of the f-word to give an R rating. The “bad” guy is also elusive leaving the story open for a sequel. I’d say this picture is worth seeing at a matinee price.
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
Bob Clark, age 38
Positive—This was a great film! Saw it last night and I loved it. Original, suspenseful, and freaky! The f-word is used a couple of times, and there is some nudity, but nothing too extreme, which was good. Go see it! Highly recommended!
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
Adam, age 19
Movie Critics
…frequent obscenities and moderate crudities… teenage drinking portrayed in a positive light…
Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…a fairly realistic premise and sharply built tension, the film approaches greatness…
Phil Villarreal, Arizona Daily Star
…feels like a long drive in circles, with no destination worth getting to…
Michael Atkinson, Mr. Showbiz
…17 F-words, 20 scatological terms… 16 religious profanities or exclamations…
…brief, but explicit sexually related dialogue… young woman in her underwear and two men’s bare butts in unrelated, nonsexual scenes…