Joyride

Tobey Maguire, the precocious narrator of The Ice Storm, stars in the low-budget teen noir Joyride as a horny young outcast working in his father's rundown motel in South Florida. Everything changes, however, after he and buddy Wilson Cruz encounter a ravishing young hussy (Amy Hathaway), a stolen sports car, and a dead body. Like many other low-budget independent films that straddle the line between art films and exploitation thrillers, Joyride ends up not being an especially effective representation of either genre. As a thriller, it has plenty of sleaze but precious few elements of suspense or surprise. As a character study, it suffers from bland dialogue, underwritten characters, and uneven performances. Maguire has shown himself to be a talented young actor, but he comes off as far too delicate and patrician to effectively portray Joyride's scuzzy, white-trash protagonist. Hathaway gives a stronger performance, but she's ultimately defeated by the weak script's tendency to change her character's motives and personality whenever the plot requires it. There are a few solid performances, most notably from Christine Naify as an ice-cold hitwoman who befriends Hathaway, and Benicio Del Toro as an aggressively clueless police officer. But even some nice scenery and a bizarre cameo by Adam West as Hathaway's father/pimp aren't enough to elevate Joyride into anything more than a depressingly mediocre little film.

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