Interstate 60 is a 2002 film directed by Bob Gale, featuring an ensemble cast led by Gary Oldman, James Marsden, and Amy Smart. The movie takes us on a quirky journey down an imaginary highway with an intriguing premise, colorful characters, and a plot filled with twists and turns.
The story follows Neal Oliver (a post X-Men, James Marsden) a young artist in search of meaning and direction in life, who is granted a wish by the enigmatic O.W. Grant (Gary Oldman). This wish sends him on a surreal road trip along the mythical Interstate 60. Along the way, Neal encounters a series of bizarre and thought-provoking situations that, we are expected to believe, force him to question his values and beliefs.
The film’s quirkiness is one of its greatest strengths and at the same time, probably, it’s greatest weakness.
From the eccentric characters and surreal situations Neal encounters on his journey, from a terminally ill businessman who puts significant (and I mean significant) stock in telling the truth, a town where everyone is legally required to use drugs, to the magical and surreal elements that surround the mythical highway, the movie provides a unique and offbeat experience that sets it apart from other more traditional road trip movies.
Lack of Coherence
Despite its quirky charm, and it does have an abundance of quirky charm, Interstate 60 falters when it comes to the coherence of its storyline.
The narrative often times feels disjointed, with many of the episodes Neal experiences on his journey feeling like standalone vignettes that are not entirely connected to the overarching plot. This lack of cohesion may leave some feeling unsatisfied with the film’s resolution which is pretty weak.
The narrative’s meandering nature detracts from the movie’s overall impact. Which is a great shame, as visually and thematically it offers something but it just never manages to tie it all together in a satisfying manner.
The cast in Interstate 60 is noteworthy, helping glue together the patchy and incoherent script by the power of performance alone.
The great Gary Oldman leads and steals the show as the enigmatic and charismatic O.W. Grant. His portrayal of the trickster figure adds a layer of depth and mystique to the film, elevating it beyond a simple road trip adventure but sadly still not delivering it into anything meaningful.
James Marsden too delivers a solid performance as the bewildered Neal, while Amy Smart offers a somewhat memorable turn as the love interest, Lynn, despite being a billboard image for two of the three reels.
The supporting cast, which includes appearances by Christopher Lloyd, Ann-Margret and Kurt Russell, add further nuance to the film’s eclectic mix of characters with their strong and characterful performances, hell, Michael J. Fox even makes a brief cameo, likely due to Lloyd’s presence on the cast, as an unfortunate plot point designed to setup the character of O. W. Grant for the audience.
None of it is enough to satisfy though. With such a stellar cast of actors, I can’t help but feel disappointed by the lack of material they’ve been given to deliver against.
Cinematography and Visuals
The cinematography of Interstate 60, helmed by director of photography, Anastas Michos, plays an essential role in bringing the film’s peculiar world to life. Michos masterfully employs a diverse palette of colours and lighting techniques to accentuate the varying moods and atmospheres of the different towns and locations Neal encounters on his journey.
The use of vibrant colors and dynamic contrasts effectively conveys the whimsical and, at times, unsettling nature of the mythical highway and its surroundings very well. Although at times can feel a little obvious.
In addition to the skillful use of colour and lighting, the film also showcases small imaginative touches, with its visual effects. These visual effects not only add to the movie’s eccentric charm but also serve to further emphasize the fantastical nature of the world that Neal has been thrust into. The Magic 8 Ball in particular is neatly integrated, without ever feeling like an obvious CG element.
The film’s cinematography captures the expansive and open landscapes of the mythical Interstate 60. Through sweeping shots and aerial perspectives, Michos creates a sense of vastness and isolation, further driving home the idea that Neal’s journey is as much an internal odyssey as it is a physical one.
By juxtaposing these vast landscapes with the intimate and often claustrophobic spaces of the towns and encounters Neal experiences, the cinematography effectively highlights the film’s themes of self-discovery, growth and search for meaning.
Clearly I like the movie and it’s true, Interstate 60 is a quirky and imaginative film that offers an enjoyable ride for those willing to embrace its eccentricities.
The lack of coherence in the storyline may detract from the movie’s overall impact and it certainly hampered my enjoyment somewhat, but the strong performances, unique premise and engaging visuals make it a worthwhile distraction and entertaining enough little film.
I’m not surprised it didn’t make much at the box office (less than $9,000!) but I am surprised by the names attached to, what is at the end of the day, a little indie movie. It offered so much potential with cast and premise but disappointingly delivered so little.
Good luck finding a copy, I had to hunt high and low, and the best I could do was DVD. Don’t expect an Ultra HD 4K release anytime soon…