Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 39


Audience Score

User Ratings: 22,474
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Freeway Photos

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 her for years. When both of her parents get arrested, Vanessa steals the car of her family-services caseworker (Conchata Ferrell) and heads up Interstate 5 in search of her paternal grandmother, who's never met her. Car problems force her to accept a ride from Bob Wolverton (Kiefer Sutherland), a youth counselor who uses charm and sympathy to get the girl to open up. Confessing the sordid details of her childhood to Bob, Vanessa is shocked when he suddenly declares that she's one of the "garbage people" and that he plans to murder her and have sex with her corpse. Bob, it turns out, is the "I-5 Murderer," who's been slaughtering young prostitutes in the Los Angeles area. Thanks to a gun borrowed from her fiancé, Vanessa manages to turn the tables on Bob, shooting him repeatedly and leaving him for dead. He survives, Vanessa is arrested, and the two meet up again in court -- with her unrepentant, even though the police disbelieve her story, him flanked by his prim wife (Brooke Shields) and the righteous indignation of the American legal system. Locked up in the juvie for psychological evaluation, Vanessa gets in touch with her wild side and eventually escapes, heading off to her fateful meeting with grandma. Although Freeway was originally filmed for HBO, vigorously positive critical response eventually earned it a theatrical release. Alanna Ubach, who portrays Vanessa's nemesis/accomplice Mesquita, would go on to appear with Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. Freeway also features two Clueless alumni: Dan Hedaya, as a police detective, and Brittany Murphy, as the disfigured lesbian who befriends Vanessa in lock-up. Michael T. Weiss, who previously appeared in gay indie Jeffrey, appears in both Freeway and its sequel, Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trickbaby.

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Dan Hedaya
as Wallace
Amanda Plummer
as Ramona, Vanessa's Mother
Michael T. Weiss
as Larry, Vanessa's Stepdad
Kitty Fox
as Grandma
Sidney Lassick
as Woody Wilson
Alanna Ubach
as Mesquita
Conchata Ferrell
as Mrs. Sheets
Sydney Lassick
as Woody Wilson
Paul Perri
as Cop No. 1
Robert Peters
as Cop No.2
Craig Barnett
as Cop No. 3
E. Eric Miles
as Cop No. 4
Ben Meyerson
as Cop at Truckstop
Annette Held
as Lady Cop
Melinda Ramos Renna
as Female Anchor
Nico Petrakis
as Girl Gang Member
Annette Helde
as Lady Cop
Theodore Garcia
as Little Gumby
Susan Barnes
as Mrs. Collins
Christine Mourad
as News Reporter
Julie Araskog
as Prosecutor
Spantaneeus Xtasty
as Staff Member
Spontaneeus Xtasy
as Staff Member
David Andriole
as Truck Driver
Monica Creel
as Twin No.1
Leanna Creel
as Twin No. 2
Louis Mustillo
as Vanessa's Attorney
Ria Pavia
as Flo the Waitress
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Critic Reviews for Freeway

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (8)

Audience Reviews for Freeway

  • Apr 19, 2016
    This is arguably Witherspoon's best acting to date, it's very different to see her playing an anti-heroine. The story of Freeway is a twisted version of Little Red Riding Hood. I loved the tongue in cheek humour that made Freeway into a cult film. Definitely one of the definitive films of the 90s.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2011
    As a work of originality, a satire and a modern retelling of a classic fairytale, "Freeway" can be called a success, but as enjoyable entertainment, it is more or less of a mixed bag. What makes it such a compelling, tasteless experience is its stark depiction of inner-city life; its grim humor that can cause us to either laugh or wince; and the sheer audacity of its creator, Matthew Bright. As well, Reese Witherspoon is exceptional and attention-grabbing in her first lead role and Kiefer Sutherland is rightfully despicable as the Big Bad Bob Wolverton.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Oct 24, 2011
    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.
    Bethany M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 09, 2010
    A great twist of both the serial killer genre and the tale of little red riding hood. Reese Witherspoon did her best work when she was younger and this film along with Election is a testament to that. Her performance is comedic and terrifying at the same time. You gotta love Kiefer Sutherland in this too who as the villian spends more time getting the shit kicked out of him than actually being terrifying. The film isn't meant to be realistic and don't view it as such, its an over the top exploitation film with just the right amount of satire.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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