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Freeway (1996)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 37
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 9

A modern update on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, Freeway is an audacious black comedy with a star-making performance from the young Reese Witherspoon.


Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

A modern update on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, Freeway is an audacious black comedy with a star-making performance from the young Reese Witherspoon.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 22,057

My Rating

Movie Info

In this postmodern exploitation flick loosely based on "Little Red Riding Hood," the uneducated daughter of a drug-addicted prostitute flees the foster-care system in search of her long-lost grandmother but meets up instead with a serial killer. Vanessa (Reese Witherspoon), a nearly illiterate firebug and serial shoplifter, desperately clings to normalcy even though her mother turns tricks, does drugs, and manages to ignore the fact that the girl's stepfather Michael T. Weiss has been abusing


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Matthew Bright

Aug 21, 2001

Republic Pictures Home Video

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All Critics (40) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (9) | DVD (4)

There's not much edification in store, and [director] Bright cruises over some bumpy plot holes, but the teen's perspective does put a black comic spotlight on wider social hypocrisies.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Freeway glints here and there with dark humor amounting to a knowing wink that undercuts the cautionary tale at its heart and the seriousness of its graphic sociology.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Cynical, stylish and witty.

July 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rude in the way the truth is rude -- only funnier.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's too drawn-out, too talky and, at the most crucial moment, needlessly implausible, to sustain its humor and large dose of violence.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Alive with the luscious turn-ons of sex and danger, Freeway is the most impressive debut film I've seen all year.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Darkly humorous, witty and nasty, Freeway is an original take on the Red Riding Hood fairytale, featuring a wonderful performance by the teenage Reese Witherspoon, before she became a star

March 6, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

[The] characters are crisp and fascinating, and the movie has a great anything-can-happen B-movie excitement feel to it.

January 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

One of the most stubbornly original and electrifying films not only of 1996, but of the '90s, period.

February 13, 2008 Full Review Source:

It's just the sort of thing Oliver Stone strove so hard to achieve in Natural Born Killers, and [writer/director Matthew] Bright pulls it off effortlessly.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Freeway somehow manages to be hip, imaginative and hilarious. Road film, comedy, prison drama and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers all rolled into one.

May 14, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

Shockingly dark and nasty take on the Red Riding Hood tale.

November 28, 2002

I didn't particularly want to like Freeway, but I couldn't help myself. Reese Witherspoon made me.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

'Little Red Riding Hood,' my, how you've grown...

August 3, 2002
Kalamazoo Gazette

The great cast brings light-hearted humor and credibility to what could otherwise have been seen as a sickly exploitative (though well-written and directed) script.

June 5, 2002
Boxoffice Magazine

We are clobbered with excess as if we wouldn't understand a subtle fable.

April 17, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

Freeway is not good satire, it's not good comedy, and it's not in the least bit entertaining.

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Writer-director Matthew Bright does a great job for a first-time director. The plot is fascinating as it unfolds. Until the very end of the film you really can't tell what's coming next.

January 1, 2001 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

If you're into despicable trash that is completely without redeeming value, Freeway is for you.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

A white-trash riff on Little Red Riding Hood, the oddly titled Freeway is a road movie that hits a dead end.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

This is not a film for everyone, in fact, it's main appeal is in the gross fascination for the grotesque.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for Freeway

Vanessa Lutz is a nearly illiterate, poor, and troubled California teenager with a really awful back story which includes all kinds of abuse and criminal behavior. After her mother and stepfather (also very sketchy and tainted) are arrested, she decides to escape the thought of foster home life and strikes out across I-5 to the home of her grandma, whom she hopes will help her get a far better life in this sick, twisted, and really snazzy take on Little Red Riding Hood.

This is one of the more depraved and messed up movies I've ever seen, but it's actually quite enjoyable, done really well, and makes for good watching once you realize that it is clearly a VERY tongue-in-cheek satire. I mean if Siskel and Ebert can give it two thumbs up, then that lets you know right there this movie must be doing something right.

What makes it all work are the performances and the tone. Tone can be a really tough thing to get right, especially when you blend the lurid with a dark sense of humor, but Matthew Bright pulls it off pretty nicely here. The performances are quite over the top, but you can tell the actors are having a lot of fun, and Reese Witherspoon really shines as Vanessa. Kiefer Sutherland is fantastic as the menacing Bob Wolverton, and they are joined by all sorts of notable names such as Brooke Shields, Dan Hedaya, Brittany Murphy, Amanda Plummer, and Conchatta Ferrell among others. These are all wildly colorful and interesting characters, and I just love how the film makes it hard for the audience to choose who to root for at times.

The music is quite twisted and cool, the film definitely has the most unique take on a classic, and it succeeds in getting a point across while pleasing exploitation fans. So, if you have an open-mind and want to see something that is really screwed up but still has merit, then definitely give this a look..
December 9, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

It's hard not to love Reese Witherspoon in anything. This film was mad, crazy, over the top and at times quite hilarious. It's a great modern version of 'Little Red Riding Hood' and even though the ending is predictable, you can't help but like it and you end up rooting for little old Vanessa despite her troubled mind. Even more so because a girl with such a tiny frame was beating up men and genuinelly making them terrified of her. Some scenes shock you and most scenes are unpredicable apart from it's ending. It's a weird yet wonderful film.
October 24, 2011
Bethany Murphy

Super Reviewer

Based on the classic Grimm Brothers tale, Little Red Riding Hood; Freeway is the disjointed and frankly weird odyssey following a young girl on the way to her grandmother's home. The film begins much like any other hitchhiking film, with a young girl being picked up by a slightly sinister driver. However, you won't be able to predict where it's going to go from there, as Freeway continually puts its characters in absurd situations and delivers the unexpected. The plot doesn't exactly adhere to the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and after the basics have been laid down, it's basically anyone's game right down to the gripping and hilarious climax. The film sees Reese Witherspoon's juvenile delinquent being picked up by Kiefer Sutherland's child psychologist after fleeing from her home when her mother and step father are arrested. After telling the psychologist of her relationship with her step father, she soon realises that he's enjoying what she's saying a little too much; and it's not long before she asks him if he's the infamous I-5 killer, and he doesn't do anything to convince her he's not...

Freeway doesn't introduce any characters that are particularly likable, and all are guilty to a degree. Most audience members will be on the side of Witherspoon's character, as although she certainly has personality problems, she's great fun to watch and her twisted logic isn't usually far from being spot on! Witherspoon got one of her best roles in this film, and really does carry it despite her young age. Kiefer Sutherland stars alongside her, and it's rather odd seeing him in the psycho role after getting so used to him being Jack Bauer in 24. He does do it great, however. Perhaps the best thing about this film is the pitch black humour that goes hand in hand brilliantly with the absurdity of the piece. The plot is really freewheeling, and the film jumps from road thriller to prison drama to the court room in the blink of an eye, and this helps to ensure that the audience is always kept on their toes. This film won't appeal to people that don't like their movies to be pitch black and unpleasant, but anyone who enjoys a good does of absurdity shouldn't hesitate to track this film down!
December 27, 2009

Super Reviewer

I found the movie to be hilarious in so many ways. There were some cheesy parts, but I think that's how they were meant to be...For example, Reese Witherspoon is super tiny, but she was "beating" up these people. Those scenes were also funny to watch. Kiefer Sutherland's character was funny as well. The after effects of what happened to him was pretty damn funny, Reese kept laughing at him in the court room. HAHA!

Reese plays 15 year old Vanessa Glutz, whose mother gets arrested for prostitution and other charges as well as her step father. She decides she wants to go stay with her grandmother in northern California and steals her probation officer's car. It eventually dies on the freeway and Keifer's characther, Bob something stops to help and eventually gives her a ride and that's how it all starts. It also has a young Brittany Murphy and Brooke Shields in here also.
March 12, 2009

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Freeway (1996) (DE)
  • Freeway (1996) (UK)
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