ZERO STARS/**** Image B- Sound B
starring Melanie Griffith, Patrick Swayze, Penelope Ann Miller, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt
written and directed by John Kaye
by Walter Chaw For as bad an actress as Melanie Griffith is (Night Moves and Another Day in Paradise notwithstanding), it's not entirely her fault that John Kaye's Forever Lulu (inexplicably renamed Along for the Ride for its DVD release) is unspeakably awful. True, her Betsy-Wetsy kewpie doll elocution and its attendant dead eyes--which wore out their welcome almost the second she trotted them out for an incredulous audience about twenty-six years ago--are in full-bore here, but what makes Along for the Ride, in which she plays the title role, so abominable are such exchanges as this one:
Did you know that sometimes I ask my pillow late at night, "How much sadness do I have to feel?" And did you know that love is the greatest painkiller and that Marilyn Monroe wore a mask of tragedy over her pubic hair?
You're right, I should go talk to Ben.
A hysterical merging of Rain Man and The Deep End of the Ocean starring the unholy trinity of Griffith, Patrick Swayze, and poor, bewildered Penelope Ann Miller (who now has the strange and notable distinction of being upstaged by both Swayze and Griffith in the same scene), Along for the Ride is one of the most overwritten, overscored, and unintentionally hilarious films since Purple Rain. Ben (Swayze) is in an unhappy marriage with shrink Claire (Miller). Out of the blue he receives a telephone call from his schizophrenic ex-girlfriend Lulu (Griffith) informing him that sixteen years prior they had a kid, and on a lark the two decide to take a cross-country road trip together to ruin the tyke's (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt) life.
Full of moments plodding and disturbed involving sick behaviour that bears absolutely no resemblance to reality outside of the Lifetime channel or "Friends", Along for the Ride is also possessed of a terminally silly screenplay and the flat direction of one of those Hallmark specials you flip past in search of something that doesn't rot the television. The soundtrack is treacle of the first water, the lockstep plot touches base with every tired cliché of the romantic road/marital reconciliation bodice-ripper sub-genres of the adult contemporary celluloid refuse bin. There is in fact so little to recommend in regards to Along for the Ride that the only possible reason anyone would spend a few bucks to watch the film is as a cautionary tale about the importance of actors putting something away for the future so they don't have to keep working on humiliating tripe well past their prime.
Artisan's bare-bones DVD of Along for the Ride comes in a non-enhanced fullscreen transfer that looks just like what it is: a belated home version of a film that premiered on a cable television network. The Dolby Surround audio has some channel separation, but the mix is too dominated by Serge Colbert's tinkling pianos and maudlin overtures. The disc, absent of even chapter menus, features only a short trailer that fails to elicit the basest desire to watch the film. So while it fails as a teaser, I guess it should get some credit for respecting truth in advertising. Originally published: November 26, 2001.