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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> September 2000 >> Freeway


Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
3 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
September 2000
IMDB Name:
Freeway (1996)
Matthew Bright
crime, drama
MPAA Rating:
R for strong lurid violence and sexual dialogue, some sexual situations, drug content and language.


Ah, the shameful joy of basking in the woes of others. I laughed a few times watching Freeway, a modern retelling of the old Little Red Riding Hood story. I realize that there are some slightly comic undertones to the movie, but I felt a little guilty laughing, given the problems the heroine had lived through. The opening credits are a sequence of Red Riding Hood cartoons that set the mood. When we see a girl in a red leather jacket carrying a basket and trying to get to Grandmother's house, it would be downright silly if not balanced against the tragedy of her life.

Freeway is certainly no walk in the park, but it has good story development, interesting characters, and largely excellent acting. Writer-director Matthew Bright has a good grasp on exploitation, and his first effort behind the camera is pretty good. Some of his characters, notably Wolfgang Bodison's Detective Breer seem either underwritten or overacted.

Against Type

Freeway is one of those movies where almost everyone plays against type. Like most of the world, I know Reese Witherspoon from Pleasantville, Cruel Intentions, and Election, a personal favorite. Seeing her play trailer trash is quite a treat! Much more surprising is watching "The Pretender" himself, Michael T. Weiss, as the abusive stepfather. Brooke Shields may not be playing so much against type, but it's hardly the kind of movie in which I'd expect to see her. Alanna Ubach, Marcia's friend in The Brady Bunch Movie and one of the primaries in Clockwatchers, puts in a surprising appearance as a teenager in for double murder.

Kiefer Sutherland and Dan Hedaya are probably the shortest stretches in the cast. Sutherland has that slightly unusual face that can look as creepy as anyone. Check out A Time to Kill and Dark City to see. Hedaya never looks out of place, even in roles as diverse as Nick Tortelli on "Cheers" to the father in Clueless to the jealous husband in Blood Simple. Maybe that's why he can make playing a calm detective look so easy.

DVD Comments

Mere moments after the Freeway DVD hit my player, I flashed back to the DVD for Bound. This is another Republic Pictures laserdisc repurposed into a DVD with minimal effort. The opening menu is, in fact, identical. The chapter list only shows nine chapters out of the forty-one on the disc. Worse, the stills that represent the chapters are the first frame from the chapter. In a few cases, that provides little clue to which scene will be shown. The selector is especially non-obvious in this menu. How am I supposed to notice which still is a little brighter than usual? Even when I know which one is selected, I can't identify any characteristic of it that differentiates it from the rest.

The trailer is on the disc, but presented fullscreen, even though it is obviously theatrical. The framing of the movie itself looked a little strange, even in letterbox. In particular, some of the credits seemed chopped on the sides. The subtitles never strayed outside the picture, an annoyance given the presence of the letterbox matte. On the bright side, Spanish and English subtitles and English captions are available.

I almost wish I hadn't listened to the Matthew Bright commentary track. Bright comes across sounding just a little too much like his most despicable character. He brags about picking clothes for Brooke Shields and hairstyles for all of the female characters. He also has the sound of perverse glee that he's written for the law enforcement characters. He feels quite superior to them, but I guess I should expect this in an exploitation flick. The commentary track is mixed very quietly, such that I had to turn the sound way down when switching to the movie's audio.

See the IMDB information on Freeway's DVD or compare prices at DVD Price Search.

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Copyright 2000-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.