On the Road

Directed By: Walter Salles

Starring: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge, Danny Morgan, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Terrence Howard, and Steve Buscemi

Despite its impressive cast, I was never really looking forward to On the Road.  This adaptation of Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel may have Mary Jane, Lois Lane, and Aragorn, but it also has Bella.  I always have my doubts with a Kristen Stewart movie, or any film starring a Twilight cast member.  Admittedly, I was wrong about Snow White and the Huntsman last year.  However, this rule of thumb is right on the mark in the case of On the Road.

Shortly after his father passed away in 1947, Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) is introduced to Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a headstrong, fun-loving guy who enjoys spending time with the ladies and puffing the magic dragon.  Along with their common friend Carlo (Tom Sturridge) and Dean's 16-year-old wife Marylou (Stewart), they hit the road and have some wild times.  Along the way, the already-married Dean falls for a woman by the name of Camille (Kirsten Dunst), Sal chases a Hispanic woman to California, Carlo goes to Africa, and Marylou meets some sailors.  As they all go off on their own journeys down the road, one thing becomes abundantly clear.  Dean Moriarty is not the most responsible guy in the world.

On the Road might just be able to give Steve McQueen's Shame a run for its money in terms of the sheer number of sex scenes.  There are countless orgies on screen, a few scenes with gay sex, and even the occasional traditional sex scene with just a man and a woman.  Basically, there's a whole lot of sex in this movie.  While this is necessary for director Walter Salles to convey the crazy, hypersexual lifestyle these young gentlemen are living, Garrett Hedlund needs to learn to answer a door with his clothes squarely on his body.  I saw his naked ass one too many times throughout this movie.

Surprisingly, I have no quips whatsoever with the cast, even Kristen Stewart.  The actors all give somewhat decent performances.  My issue with On the Road revolves around the screenplay.  There's too much sex and not enough storytelling.  It feels like a movie strung together by one sexual encounter after another.  Though I've not read Kerouac's novel, I can make an educated guess that this movie is supposed to get unbelievably wild, but it's supposed to do so with a purpose.  It's supposed to be about the challenges of being friends with an irresponsible loser who leeches off anyone and everyone who allows him to do so and the personal growth that ensues for each one of Dean's friends and loved ones as they come to terms with this unfortunate reality.  Instead, On the Road feels like one big orgy with no real plot and characters that enter and exit the film on a whim.

Though it's only two hours, On the Road is too damn long.  It felt like I spent years of my life in the theater watching this flick.  Some fellow moviegoers apparently agreed with me because a few walked out of the film.  At the same time, this crazy film is too short because it's lacking in terms of storytelling.  It takes quite some time for Salles to establish a theme and give us any reason to watch his movie.  When he finally does so, it’s too late.  Altogether, it's a regrettable experience, and I wish I had my two hours back.  On the Road gets a 0.09% rating.  Have some whiskey sours with this one.