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Scarecrow on Seattle: HIGHWAY

For the past few years, Scarecrow Video has been contributing reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest to the Seattle Office of Film + Music's e-newsletter. We're now proud to be able to share these reviews on our site as well.






Highway (2002)

This typical road movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Jared Leto (sporting a fugly mullet/Mohawk combo) as Pilot and Jack, a couple of tight bros from way back. Based out of Las Vegas, the pals find themselves on an unexpected road trip after Jack gets caught in a compromising situation with a mob goon's wife. The two hit the highway...destination: Seattle. The DVD artwork makes this objective clear with an image of a desert road headed, dead center, to the Space Needle. Along the way they smoke some joints, visit a whorehouse, take ecstasy at a rave, meet a stoner named Johnny the Fox (played by John C. McGinley donned in an absolutely putrid white-guy cornrow fright wig), cut the roof off their car with a power saw, check out an alligator boy who lives in a barn in Oregon (these scenes were actually shot on Whidbey Island), and, to establish the requisite love triangle, meet a skinny hooker named Cassie (Selma Blair) who looks like she could use a sandwich. The trio goes through the predicable motions accompanied by lots of flashy editing, "amusing" antics and modern rock songs. I forgot to mention it but Highway is supposed to take place in 1994 and the guys want to attend Kurt Cobain's Seattle Center wake that took place on April 11 of that year. Highway was originally titled A Leonard Cohen Afterworld, which is a line from a Nirvana song, but no actual music by Nirvana is used in the film and, actually, all of the soundtrack tunes are post-grunge/early 21st century jams, a detail that doesn't do much to reinforce the film's credibility. Eventually the trio ends up, somewhat shattered, in Seattle. Pilot has abandoned the others and reunites with Johnny the Fox, who is traveling with a group of long hairs in a psychedelic step van en route to the Cobain memorial. The "revealing Seattle" shot does not really make much geographical sense, unless those hippies got really lost, as Pilot and The Fox first glimpse The Jet City from the Magnolia Bridge. There is a quick cut to a helicopter shot of the Space Needle and then the gang of merry pranksters arrive at the Seattle Center just in time for Pilot to drop some acid and get a spider painted on his face. Pilot stumbles to Emerald City Guitars, which, in the film, seems to be located just across from the street but most locals realize that the excellent music store is actually located down in Pioneer Square. Pilot takes his trip back to the flag pavilion where he stumbles through the flannel-attired crowd and the filmmakers intersperse some actual footage of the real candlelight vigil with their own recreation of the event. Pilot also visits the Fun Forest Amusement Park and is reminded of his childhood friendship with Jack as he careens through crowds of actual children. He reconciles with his old friend at the International Fountain but the Vegas goons are hot on their trail. Jack and Cassie get chased out of the park and are immediately seen across town running through Pioneer Square where they narrowly doge the old Waterfront Streetcar (R.I.P.), sprint past the J&M Café and have a showdown with the thugs in an alley. Jack gets his feet stomped on but, ultimately, everything works out okay and the film ends with our young adventurers gazing out at a nighttime view of the skyline from Kerry Park. Cue Jack Kerouac quote.

-Spenser Hoyt


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