Joyride (1977) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's comment's in white:


This is an oddly constructed movie, basically consisting of two completely different movies featuring the same characters. In the first half, it's a gritty, realistic drama about three kids who gave up dead-end jobs in L.A. to pursue their dream of an independent new life in Alaska.

Once there, they found that they had miscalculated the opportunities and the risks attendant in such a venture.

In fact, as you can see by the sign to the right, they had even miscalculated the location of Alaska, finding it in the Port of Tacoma, Washington. (A close-up of the sign? C'mon, director, that's not even tryin'!!)

Anyway, they found themselves even more down-and-out in "Alaska" than they had been in California. They were homeless, down to their last pennies, and eating dog food.

So it's a gritty slice-of-life drama about the dark side of the American Dream, right? Steinbeck for the Seventies?

It might have been, except that realistic part of the movie came to an abrupt halt, and the entire script veered off into a fantasy world. Down on their luck and desperate, they decided to hold up a payroll office, took an employee for ransom, and demanded hundreds of thousands from the company they robbed. Soon they had become a modern Bonnie and Clyde and Clyde, darlings of all the television stations, running from an armada of cops, engaged in gunfights with good guys and bad, and speeding through the wilderness in wild car chases. In their spare time, while on the lam in the wilderness and hungry, they also managed to kill a bear at a long distance with a tiny handgun.

After the highs and lows of that chase, they appeared to be just as down and out as before the robbery. On what appeared to be their final night of life, two of them were sleeping in a inoperable car on a freezing Alaska night, while the third went on foot to try to get help.

So now it's a heartbreaking, gritty slice-of-life crime drama about loveable crooks getting their eventual comeuppance?

Well, not exactly.

Dawn broke on the two in the car. The boy was dead. The girl was shrieking for help.

Shrieking? Who could hear her in the wilderness?

The other guy, as it turns out.

He arrived in a van, from parts unknown, apparently having managed to win a vehicle from a masked wrestler in an Alaskan Cage Match. The script never did explain how he could have walked off into the Alaskan wilderness on foot on a freezing night, without cash, and managed to return the next day with a van.

But the miracles did not end there.

He went over to his dead friend, slapped him a couple of dozen times, said "live, damn you", and sure enough, the friend turned out to be not dead, but merely stunned, much like the Norwegian Blue in the Polly sketch.

So the three of them hopped in their new vehicle and drove off to their new adventure. One of them said "Hawaii?", and the one who had recently frozen to death and been resurrected said, "Sure, I could use the sun!"

The End.

Odd stuff, eh? It isn't as bad as you might expect from the 3.9 rating at IMDb, but it is certainly a rambling, unfocused and ultimately pointless story which really couldn't decide whether it was a comedy, a crime caper, a gritty drama, a character study, or a buddy picture. It might have worked as a character study if the actors had been proficient enough to win the empathy of the audience, but they weren't, so it didn't.

The film is probably best remembered, if it is remembered at all, for three things:

1. Some gimmicky casting. All four of the main stars were the spawn of stars. Anne Lockhart is the daughter of June Lockhart, the mom on Lassie. Melanie Griffith is the daughter of Tippi Hedren, star of The Birds. Robert Carradine is John Carradine's son, and Desi Arnaz Jr is ... well, I reckon you can figure that one out. I suppose his birth was one of the most talked-about events in the post-modern world, since it occurred on the same night that his real-life mother (Lucille Ball) gave birth to her fictional son on America's most popular TV show, I Love Lucy.

The trick casting produced mixed results. Griffith and Carradine, who would go on to lengthy careers in the business, exhibited at least some minimal level of competence in their roles in Joyride, but the same cannot be said for Lockhart and Arnaz, who delivered their lines like minor characters in a high school Spring play. Lockhart went on to a career as a Hollywood fringe player, doing walk-ons and voice acting, while Arnaz disappeared from the radar completely after playing the part of Desi Arnaz, his real-life dad, in The Mambo Kings.

2. Some frequent undressing. Melanie Griffith was not as slim and toned as she would later become, but she was certainly not camera-shy, and took off her top in two love scenes, a shower scene, and a hot tub scene. June Lockhart's breasts also joined Melanie's in the hot tub.

3. The soundtrack. The music was done by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), which was quite a popular group at the time.

Tuna's comments in yellow:

Joyride (1977) is a typical 70s teensploitation effort. Three friends, boyfriend/girlfriend Melanie Griffith and Desi Arnaz Jr, and best friend Robert Carradine, decide to head for Alaska and escape their mundane lives. Their dream is to end up owning their own salmon boat. Alaska isn't everything they hoped. Prices are outrageous, their car is robbed, their cash is stolen, and they have to take menial jobs. They each get screwed over in some way, and finally decide to strike back, holding up the pipeline payroll office, and taking Anne Lockhart as a hostage.


Griffith, who was 20 at the time, has several topless sex scenes, including a hot tub and a shower scene, and shows her buns mooning a passing car. 

 Lockhart (daughter of June Lockhart) shows breasts in a hot tub and sex scene.

DVD info from Amazon

  • two versions: full screen and widescreen letterboxed.

  • no features

There is local color, lots of villains, chase scenes, and plenty of nudity, and I would probably have enjoyed the film more if I liked any of the characters. The only possible reason to watch it is the early nudity from Lockhart and Griffith, and even the young Melanie was then less attractive than she would be a few years later.


The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Tuna says, "this is a D. While it has the required elements for the genre, it is a remarkably uninspired effort."  Scoop says, "I agree with everything Tuna says, but I am loath to give a D to a movie which I can watch all the way through in one sitting without using the fast forward button. It must have something going for it, like some nice nudity, and some characters that got me halfway involved in their lives. I will call it a low C-, but with the admission that Tuna may have a better handle on the score."

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