Two-Lane Blacktop - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Two-Lane Blacktop Reviews

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July 24, 2016
I really enjoyed this movie and I am not even sure I can really explain what it was about. At it's core, it just about 4 people, in 2 cars racing across country, but there's more going on. The dialogue is minimal, and it stars 2 musicians in their only performances, Dennis Wilson and James Taylor. It also stars the great Warren Oates who is excellent in this. The cars are cool and I was never bored for a second. This film may not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it!
Super Reviewer
June 21, 2016
With little dialogue and zero character development, this is a very unique flick. There are things to like. Some of the scenery shots are beautiful and the film has a relaxing, chugging, pleasantness about it. However, what little there was of a plot fizzled out into nothingness. If you like films about nothing, this one is for you.
May 16, 2016
Everything I think cool is in this movie. This movie is the very concept of "cool" for me. This is a "movie" in the true sense. I think I should not talk about this film too much, but one thing - the way you can interpret this film is infinite. That's what I mean by the "true movie." I also love the atmosphere of USA of that particular time of period that this film captures. James Taylor and Denny Wilson are heroes for me forever.
January 9, 2016
Of the plethora of road movies to emerge from the dawn of new Hollywood (including Easy Rider and Vanishing Point), Two-Lane Blacktop was certainly the most abstract. Monte Hellman's film captured a side of Americana rarely seen before in film, particularly as it concentrates on the now-exinct Route 66. A send-off to the 60s also, as the film starred musicians Dennis Wilson and James Taylor in their only lead acting roles, and while their performances may have required them to be stoic, their presence communicates the emergence of 70s grit. It's a minimalist film in both story and design, as the movie declines even giving names to its characters, but at its best it's a haunting experience, and also ends on a note that seems taking from Ingmar Bergman. A very deserving cult-classic.
November 10, 2015
The automobile races, the quiet driving sequences, and the stirring scenery are all valuable, if only its characters were not so meaninglessly passive.
August 28, 2015
I like this film most due to its wandering nature, what looks important, what people say is important (I.e. winning the race), is often not and what is truly important is often hidden.
½ July 4, 2015
Monte Hellman's film is so effortlessly brilliant, it is hard not to wonder if he had any idea what he was filming would result in something close to a cinematic masterpiece. What at first appears to be a vague sort of character study of two dudes drag racing their way across the country slowly develops into a surprisingly insightful art film. In truth, the movie offers only 2 characters: The primer-coated / souped-up '55 chevy and the lonely landscape of late 1960's America. And of the two, only one of these is fully formed. The only reliable thing "The Driver" and "The Mechanic" have in life is their powerful American car. Monte Hellman captures the US in what might have seemed the end of its most culturally pivot moments was actually about to calm into an almost deeper stew of sexual experimentation, identify assertion, self-absorption and paranoia. As we ride alongside these two half-formed men and the free-willed woman they have picked up --- we see a world of loneliness, suspicion and isolation. It is all very minimalist in approach, but its power is undeniable.
½ May 29, 2015
I watched because Tarantino called this a cult classic. And like many other cult classics I don't get why this movie is so popular among critics. I mean the car isn't even cool, not even for 1971.
May 21, 2015
When deciding to watch this movie for the first time years ago, I read two reviews that are published on another site. The two reviews sealed the deal for me. The two men that wrote these reviews both said it better than anyone else could. If I try to review this movie myself, I would probably only end up plagiarizing those two men. So here are their reviews respectfully.

Daniel S. of Geneva, Switzerland
"Two pop stars of that period, James Taylor and Dennis Wilson as the driver and the mechanic, race against Warren Oates in a journey through the heart of America. While Taylor and Wilson hardly speak, Warren Oates has a convulsive need to talk to the numerous hitch-hikers he accepts to take for a ride in his GTO.
TWO-LANE BLACKTOP is a road movie, in the tradition of EASY RIDER and THE VANISHING POINT, but the characters don't have to prove anything, they don't even care if they make it to their final destination, Washington D.C. They cannot either be considered as rebels because they don't have an ideal to defend or an authority to face. They are tragic figures without any ideals."

Chris K. Wilson of Dallas, TX United States
"The three main characters, haunted lost souls void of identity and emotion, are played by James Taylor, Dennis Wilson and Warren Oates. Taylor and Wilson silently cruise the backroads of America looking for the next race in their 55' Chevy. They eventually meet Oates, a chattering, nervous man involved in some kind of middle-age crisis while picking up hitchikers in his GTO. These men decide to race cross country, but eventually lose interest.
Throw into this uneasy mix a young hitchiker played by Laurie Bird. She jumps back and forth between these three men, holding off their awkward advances, eventually realizing their emotionless lives are headed down an endless highway without destination.
"Two-Lane Blacktop" is a morose study of men perpetually lost on the backroads of a nameless American landscape. They are hovering ghosts, void of identity, forever searching for a meaning which cannot be found. There are no easy truths or answers in Hellman's complex odyssey. These men are trapped, their cars serving as rolling coffins, redemption seemingly around the next bend, inexorably moving further and further away.
The time period of the early 1970s and the scratchy period music moaning from the AM radio, combined with the faceless gas stations and roadside diners of numerous small towns, all contribute to the overall effect of Hellman's dark character study. "Two-Lane Blacktop" is one of the finest American films no one has ever heard of."
½ April 5, 2015
This early 70's film could never have been made by a studio even five years earlier. Thanks to the success of films like Easy Rider, the door opened for more unconventional material. This is the quintessential road movie. It's as if Hellman is distilling the conventions down to their minimalist essence. One could argue that the main character is in fact the '55 Chevy. It's the one thing almost everyone talks about in the film. It's juxtaposed with the newer hot rod GTO from Vegas. As these cars race (sort of) across the country, the narrative makes a statement on the ever-changing landscape of America. Much transformed from the 50's to the 70's (and even more so, when one looks at it from the prism of today's strip mall society).

The existential odyssey the characters go on seems to be more about the journey than the actual destination. The conclusion is a clear example of this. Some might find this film very dull, tedious and boring. Nothing much happens. But it captures such atmosphere, mood and place. The almost-always silent brothers, the young girl who disrupts their ordinary world, the Warren Oates character who just consistently wants to pick up hitchhikers and talk their ears off; all these elements add up to a portrait of a distinct culture of the 70's. (Interestingly, both brothers were rock stars in real life, who would never act again). The film might be too understated for most, but for those who appreciate films like The Passenger and Wanda, would likely find much to celebrate.
January 3, 2015
Really great road movie. Very slow, but atmospheric and quite realistic. It perfectly reflects the era it was made. It's like watching a time capsule.
October 24, 2014
Apart from the pretty boys, a load of crock.
October 1, 2014
I'm not a gearhead by any stretch of the imagination, so a flick about two dudes travelling cross-country in a hopped-up '55 Chevy, engaging in drag racing to make money, isn't something to which I was intrinsically drawn. But this film (by Monte Hellman) exists in its own reality, with an aimless pace, numerous moments of quiet idleness (that some may find languorous), and the repetitive purr and whine of engines. Warren Oates, in his yellow G.T.O. and smart cashmere sweaters (with ascot), steals the show with his cocky but somehow vulnerable older gent who agrees to race the boys to D.C. Incidentally, the central characters are played by James Taylor and Dennis Wilson, non-actors to be sure, but evocative of a time and place now gone. Possibly a key existential film (as so many road movies tend to be), if you choose to read it that way.
July 15, 2014
A thoughtful "Silent-driver" movie where names are less important than cars.
January 7, 2014
A pair of drag-racing drivers place a risky bet with a TV producer; the first to reach the destination of Washington D.C. wins the loser's car. But as the race goes on, neither pick up the pace, and the trip becomes an existential metaphor, helped by the inclusion of a young woman who joins them as she is headed East. Cult director Hellman makes a brave motion picture that captures the feeling of a whole generation. Musicians James Taylor and Dennis Wilson make their acting debuts.
December 15, 2013
Two-Lane Blacktop is one odd duck of a movie. It stars James Taylor, The Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson, and Warren Oates as drag racers who race their cars across the US. Now, that's a semblance of a plot because, there is no plot, per se. There are moments when the film makes you think a plot is underway, but there really isn't. The performances and the actors are pretty good, including a surprise appearance by Harry Dean Stanton, but I don't think the film hit anyone very hard, except for those with tastes that include art house favorites. The film didn't do well on its original release, but has since become a bit of a cult classic and is widely available through Criterion. It's a strange film, but is far more interesting than films like it with a lack of any plot or structure. It seems more like an experiment on a major Hollywood studio's dime than anything. The landscapes on display, editing choices. lack of a narrative and seemingly strong direction make it a film worthy of your attention, time, and patience. Do go check it out.
½ December 7, 2013
Two-Lane is a typical movie of it's time... A road Americana movie with existentialist themes. Following in the footsteps of Easy Rider I have to guess that it didn't seem fresh at the time and apparently it was a flop. The good news is that Warren Oates gives a good performance as always. Telling stories that differ with each hitchhiker he picks up. Harry Dean Stanton also gets a fun cameo.

The rest of the cast is a hippie chick trying to find her way in life, and a race car driver and his Mechanic friend. All the characters are quirky, but only Oates is truly memorable. They bounce around from place to place looking for car action, but the audience gets little of it. A lot less than you might expect. That, and the lack of memorable characters is the reason I can't hold this movie with the highest regard. If you're going to have a slow paced movie, you need engaging characters to make it worthwhile, and that only partly existed here.
rayman0071
Super Reviewer
October 16, 2013
The year 1971 was a phenomenon for minimalist,existential road movies because,released just months apart were "Vanishing Point" with Barry Newman that was released by 20th Century-Fox,and this little gem "Two-Lane Blacktop" that was released by Universal Pictures. In that same year Esquire magazine made that unprecedented move of publishing Rudolph Wurlitzer's entire screenplay for "Two-Lane Blacktop" declaring the film its pick for "movie of the year!" on the front cover. Unfortunately,it was not as this film was up against some big heavy hitters at the boxoffice that year in which three films that were "cop" thrillers dominated respectively
"Shaft", "The French Connection",and "Dirty Harry" in the cinemas. The big surprise and the shocker of the Oscars was when "The French Connection" took the honors and the Oscars as the best movie of 1971 beating out the heavily favorite "Fiddler On The Roof" that year. But getting back to "Two-Lane Blacktop" this movie preceded the successful "Easy Rider" as the next to the last of the existential road pictures that were all over the place during the mid-1960's and all through the decade of the 1970's. However this cult classic was unavailable for years on video until 1999 surviving in the meantime on occasional television airings on nightly late shows and ending up being screened on college campuses and in second-run theaters and drive-ins. It built up a cult following(including Werner Herzog,who helped campaign for its video release through Universal MCA Home Video)and was eventually recognized by the Library of Congress National Film Registry and the Criterion Collection,and was credited as one of the inspirations for the real-life Cannonball Run. Not bad for a film about a couple of guys with no names,driving route 66. But in some aspects,this film made the theatrical debuts of two musicians...One was North Carolina native James Taylor(who in fact is a graduated of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was raise and born in Chapel Hill,North Carolina),and the other was "Beach Boy" singer Dennis Wilson. There isn't a whole hell of a lot of plot to "Two-Lane Blacktop" other than James Taylor and Dennis Wilson cruisin down the highway in a 1955 Chevy with a teen hitchhiker(actress Laurie Bird,who became involved with director Monte Hellman and later have a relationship with Art Garfunkel,before her untimely death in 1979)who are known solely as The Driver and The Mechanic. Their racing against Warren Oates,an older fellow with a 1970 Pontiac GTO and a propensity for self-aggrandizement. From a standpoint,the film is not only a marvel,but a timeless cult classic that still brings a strong sense of realism along with its spectacular editing that perfectly fits the era. The result is standard entertainment that is to be seen. Look for an early Harry Dean-Stanton in a hilarious scene as a hitchhiker who tries to help Oates "relax". Also the soundtrack to "Two-Lane Blacktop" is an outstanding result. Check out the seldom-heard original version(which is on the soundtrack album to the motion picture) of "Me and Bobby McGee" by Kris Kristofferson as well as seldom heard material from both James Taylor and Dennis Wilson. A Bonafide classic masterpiece
½ June 15, 2013
A real drifter, tumbleweed in the wind kind of film that now has reached cult status.

James Taylor is fantastic as the driver (although he says very little) and just mysteriously has this presence that works for the film.

It's a simple film a driver & mechanic travel the US dragging for money for gas & food and I guess it's more about the journey.

Although slow mid way it does draw you in & is an interesting film, you won't see the ending coming or may even like it....
May 11, 2013
Though it ends far too soon, Two-Lane Black top is a riveting time capsule film about people who live for the road and cannot relate to anything outside of it.
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