A would-be romantic comedy with a video-box cover designed to say "erotic drama," this determinedly quirky tale of little guys with little dreams in the quaint and oddball Florida Keys is patronizing, forced, and worst of all, unfunny.
Jack (Lenny Von Dohlen) works a quiet tollbooth on a two-lane road in the Keys. He dreams of becoming a Miami vice cop. Jack dates Doris (Fairuza Balk), a solemn yet professionally flirty young gas-station attendant. Doris believes that her long-ago runaway father, Leon Borders (Seymour Cassel),
will return someday and have to stop for gas or to pay the toll. She loves Jack, but is "saving" herself--except for athletic trysts with Jack's friend, bait-shop owner and aspiring novelist Dash Pepper (Will Patton). Leon's brother Larry (also Cassel) tries to provide moral support to Doris' chronically depressed mom, Lillian (Louise Fletcher).
Jack, anxious to get his life moving, searches for Leon--who shows up on his own, driving a Checker cab. Leon is a belligerent, roadkill-eating, knife-wielding creep. He tries to kill Jack for his nosiness, but gets accidentally electrocuted on a bug zapper. To avoid telling Doris he killed her father, panicky Jack has Dash get rid of Leon's body. He abruptly also decides to take Leon's taxi and become a cab driver. Concurrently, Lillian snaps to, and Doris accepts that her dad's not coming back. Dash grinds Leon's body into "secret recipe" bait. Jack and Doris get married, and Dash
publishes a novel based on the events.
Filmed in 1993 and shown the following year in festivals, TOLLBOOTH weaves from genre to genre--psychodrama, black comedy, symbolist fable--like a drunken driver. The only genre this feature really belongs to, however, is "pretentious first film." The main actors acquit themselves remarkably well, given the material; top-lined William Katt, perhaps through last-minute editing, has only about two lines as the gas-station manager. Writer-director Salome Breziner uses alarmingly trite symbolism, such as a moth flying too close to the light. Further muddying the pointless and perplexing screenplay are
undistinguished direction, a couple of non-sequitur jump cuts, and a squawking soundtrack of bad musical choices. (Violence, sexual situations, adult situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: A would-be romantic comedy with a video-box cover designed to say "erotic drama," this determinedly quirky tale of little guys with little dreams in the quaint and oddball Florida Keys is patronizing, forced, and worst of all, unfunny. Jack (Lenny Von Doh… (more)