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"On the Road' theme still leaves them laughing

It's a tradition, or at least as much of one as Hollywood can stomach.

Every summer for the last several years, we've been treated to a gross-out comedy, a movie that draws inspiration from There's Something About Mary or American Pie, both of which owe a debt to Porky's.

This year's entry into the gag-and-giggle sweepstakes comes from director Todd Phillips, whose previous movie was a documentary called Frat House.

There's no point delaying my report on gags guaranteed to sicken, even as they amuse. I take it as a form of sociological duty. If you want to be surprised, stop reading.

If not, consider the joke in which a restaurateur licks unwanted sugar off the French toast of a complaining college student. Before returning it to the table, the restaurant's owner stuffs the toast in the rear of his pants. I love a high point. Don't you?

The story begins at Ithaca College in New York. Josh (Breckin Meyer) has been going steady with the same girl (Rachel Blanchard) for years, but she's attending veterinary college in Austin, Texas. He thinks she might be cheating on him, so he rolls around his dorm room with Beth (Amy Smart).

They record their fling on video tape, which accidentally is mailed to Josh's girl in Austin. He decides he must retrieve it. Thus begins the road trip, as Josh and his buddies set out for Texas.

The story is told in flashback by MTV's Tom Green, a strange fellow who seems to have arrived in the movie from a distant planet. For most of its audience, Road Trip will be plenty good. For others it will be a form of cultural road kill. I have no argument with ribald amusements, but how about some spirit, some life, a little liberating energy. Doesn't anyone remember Animal House?

MOVIE REVIEW

Roadtrip

DIRECTOR: Todd Phillips

CAST: Breckin Meyer, Seann William Scott, Amy Smart, Paul Costanzo, DJ Qualls, Rachel Blanchard, Anthony Rapp, Fred Ward, Tom Green

SCREENPLAY: Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong

RATING: R

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

NOTE: Films not reviewed by Times critics are not graded

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