I have to be truthful and say that Reese Witherspoon's performance as the sociopathic but fun Vanessa Julia Lutz is one of my favourite performances by anybody in recent years. She is absolutely perfect for the role and laugh-out-loud hilarious -- even while doing some extremely nasty things. Nasty but justified.
Vanessa is a 15 year old illiterate white trash girl whose mother (Amanda Plummer) is a whore on methodone and her stepfather (Michael T. Weiss) is a disgusting crackhead who also sexually abuses her; treats her like a human urinal is the phrase used in the film. Mom and stepdad are quickly arrested and the cops call a social worker (Conchata Ferrell) who Vanessa promptly legcuffs to a bed. Vanessa's boyfriend Chopper (Bokeem Woodbine) cannot go on the run with her due to an impending court date so he gives her a gun to sell when she gets to Stockton and her grandmother's house. Oh yes, I might take this opportunity to tell you that FREEWAY is a 90's update of the Little Red Riding Hood story. So off Vanessa drives onto the freeway -- the I-5 --on which "the I-5 killer" has been murdering young girls. Vanessa's bomb of a car breaks down almost immediately and a therapist at a boy's school named Bob Wolverton (Kiefer Sutherland) gives her a lift. Look at the character's name and I think you'll guess which character HE corresponds to in the Little Red Riding Hood story. But keep in mind this 90's update is not of the sanitized story but the original Brothers Grimm story in which Lil Red takes on the Big Bad Wolf herself. Because remember -- while Vanessa may be trapped inside a car with the I-5 killer, she still has that gun given to her by her boyfriend. After some terrorizing by the serial killer, Vanessa manages to pull a gun on Wolverton. But because Wolverton is a rather upper-class and respected member of the community, it is Vanessa who gets thrown in jail -- not the actual serial killer.
Now, I really don't want to go into the plot any more than I have because you really must go watch the movie for yourself. The film zooms along at a fast clip and the viewer is constantly entertained. Hey, I don't even mind that Brooke Shields is in the movie as well. It MUST be pretty good if I don't mind watching a movie with Reese Witherspoon AND Brooke Shields!!! But anyway, there's violence and hilarity for one and all. And like I said, Witherspoon gives one of the best performances of the last decade. Hell, I might even have to stop calling her Greasy Reesey now. Well, maybe. . .