Honky Tonk Freeway (1981)

honky tonk freeway 4

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Get off on it!

This exceedingly free-form style narrative follows several different oddball travelers from all areas of the country who converge on the small town of Ticlaw, Florida whose citizens are trying to build an exit ramp off of the freeway or risk having all of their shops and businesses go under.

The unusual narrative device might have worked had it been complimented by material that was more original. Instead it’s rather generic and bland. Things start off well with a biting, edgy flair, but this quickly drops off and becomes only mildly amusing afterwards. Some of it even gets silly with a lot of overused jokes aimed at easy targets. To me the only good moment is when a group of men try to trap a wild rhino into a cage.

Some people have compared this to Nashville; but that film at least had an overrunning theme that tied things together while this one has none and most of the time seems to go nowhere. I did like the script’s underlying concept of the randomness of our existence and where we end up and who meet a lot of times is just up to pure chance, but it doesn’t explore this enough or make any strong statement with it.

It also forces us to follow characters that aren’t captivating or interesting. The caricatures are too broad and their eccentricities go over-the-top. The only one I found slightly memorable is David Rasche as an overzealous pimp constantly trying to recruit women into his business even some nuns!

On the performance end Beverly D’Angelo comes off best as a nymphomaniac struggling to have a relationship with just one man. The rest of the cast though is pretty much wasted especially Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy as a bickering old couple. William Devane as the mayor is miscast and speaks in a southern accent that is horrible.

The film also contains a logic loophole as the townspeople blow up the bridge of a nearby busy freeway, which will then force all incoming traffic to exit into the town. This should then conceivably create a traffic overflow with more cars and people coming in than the town is equipped for and yet screenwriter Edward Clinton never bothers to touch on this very real issue and instead keeps things contained to only a few travelers.

I did like the on-location shooting, which was done in the small town of Mount Dora that is just a north of Orlando. Many times when films are made in Florida it is done in Miami or areas along the coasts, so it was nice instead to see something done in the countryside that takes advantage of its interesting and diverse topography.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: August 21, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 47Minutes

Rated PG

Director: John Schlesinger

Studio: Universal

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

One response to “Honky Tonk Freeway (1981)

  1. Joseph Kearny

    Lost highway

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