Three for the Road (1987)
As any child of the ’80s, I always have had and always will have a soft spot for the films of John Hughes. Who doesn’t, right? But as much as I appreciated his output, for some reason I always found myself drawn even more to the Hughes-esque rip-offs of the time: the Morgan Stewart’s Coming Homes, the Fresh Horses and the Secret Admirers that were always on either constant HBO rotation or frequently rented VHS tapes in our house, with the mostly forgotten road-trip dramedy Three for the Road an almost daily watch, for some odd reason.
While I’m sure all of us have those movies that we look back on and ask, “What was I thinking?” — Lord knows I have my fair share — Three for the Road is particularly perplexing because it’s not particularly funny and it’s not particularly dramatic; it’s just particularly there, a rote plot designed to cash in on the available bankability of its three stars without knowing (or caring) what to do with them.
Brat Pack bad boy Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots!) stars as congressional aide good boy Paul Tracy, who, in order to get in good graces with Sen. Kitteridge (Raymond J. Berry, who practically reprised this role nearly 30 years later in The Purge: Anarchy) escorts the politician’s poodle-haired daughter, Robin (a woefully abrasive Kerri Green, The Goonies), across the country to an insane asylum or something. Along for the ride is party animal/apparent writer T.S. (the woefully miscast Alan Ruck, Young Guns II), who believes this’ll make great material for a book, and brings along his typewriter to show the audience this.
Along the way, this trio does everything possible to destroy any type of cinematic goodwill it built up in films like Lucas and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, especially Green, who is forced to eat with her feet at one point because she’s a free spirit that no one understands, except for the wound-tight Paul, of course, which initiates some sort of questionable romantic angle, considering she’s 15 in the film and I’m pretty sure he’s around 25. Then again, that’s Washington, D.C., for you, am I right? Punditry!
Directed by Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend’s B.W.L. Norton, Three for the Road was a massive bomb and did a good job of destroying the careers of perpetual hangdog Ruck and teen crush Green (but let’s be honest: If it wasn’t this film, it would’ve been the next one), while Sheen escapes mostly unscathed, simply because at least he had the foresight to “act” aloof throughout the entire 90-minute running time. Production company The Vista Organization would later go on to make such other Fowler faves as Dudes, Maid to Order and Russkies, all of which I’m pretty sure are just as terrible. —Louis Fowler