One of the most expensive box office flops of the 80s, John Schlesinger’s Honky Tonk Freeway aims draw a comedic picture of America’s constant life on wheels and its total dependency on cars.
The story begins as Ticlaw, a tiny town in Florida eager to get some tourist money pouring in is completely passed by the newly opened highway. While the townfolks execute one dirty trick after another to make that own exit happen, we are introduced to a selection of random people all over the roads of USA making their way to Florida – by car, how else. Looking at the array of wacky characters in their jalopies, an obvious comparison to It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World cannot be avoided.
There are some isolated good moments here but overall the experience is crippled by endless amount of characters and subplots that fail to lead anywhere, leaving the whole experience patchy. The humor is also hit and miss, mostly playing around with some tired stereotypes and easy targets.
Besides the misfired jokes and some occasional animal cruelty there’s certain good road movie feel to the movie, which – along with the interesting cast – is definitely the strongest asset here.