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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
World Traveler (2002)

"Do one good thing. Just one good thing."
- Cal (Billy Crudup)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: February 03, 2003

Stars: Billy Crudup, Julianne Moore
Other Stars: Cleavant Derricks, Liane Balaban, David Keith, Mary McCormack, Karen Allen, James Legros
Director: Bart Freundlich

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality/nudity
Run Time: 01h:42m:45s
Release Date: January 21, 2003
UPC: 043396001534
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C+B+B+ B

DVD Review

Cal (Billy Crudup) resides in New York with a beautiful wife and energetic three-year-old son, but an emotional hole exists in his life. Without saying a word to his family, the handsome architect leaves his job and ventures across the country. Driving a nondescript Volvo station wagon, Cal meets a collection of unique individuals during his trip. Unfortunately, the dull, episodic narrative contains few moments of ingenuity. The lead character is a callous, self-obsessed individual, and his ultimate improvement makes little sense in the context of the story.

Bart Freundlich's World Traveler aspires to provide a personal, emotional journey reminiscent of some films from the 1970s. Unfortunately, the overall tone is so morose and stagnant that I found it difficult to connect with Cal's discoveries. His first destination is a small town in Pennsylvania, where he takes a construction job. While on the site, he befriends Carl (Cleavant Derricks, Sliders)a genuine individual who immediately thinks highly of his new buddy. Cal responds by goading his alcoholic friend to start drinking again and leap off the wagon. Upon meeting Carl's attractive wife, he almost immediately kisses her. These are not the actions of a congenial human being.

Moving further west, Cal picks up a young, energetic hitchiker (Liane Balaban) and enjoys a friendly ride to Minneapolis. However, he quickly ditches the girl and moves onward. Attempting to do something right, he next tries to help Dulcie (Julianne Moore), a very troubled woman with serious emotional problems. They enjoy a brief courtship, but both seem to know it will be a short-lived experience. He still lacks any strong emotions, and her strange actions should quickly drive him away.

Cal's personal confusion in dealing with others makes little sense even when we finally understand his true goal. The meeting with Cal's long-estranged father (David Keith) in Oregon should provide a stirring culmination to a memorable journey. Sadly, my only real feeling was relief that this tale was nearly completed. The final moments do contain a more interesting resonance, but the sloppy main portion fails to give us enough preparation. The more engaging scenes last for just a short time, leading to an awkward and unsatisfying conclusion.

Writer/director Freundlich received a significant level of acclaim for The Myth of Fingerprints, his first major feature. This film will probably not generate the same level of interest. It does showcase a decent cast, with good efforts from Crudup, Derricks, Moore, and Keith, but they can only do so much with limited material. Crudup once again reveals the magnetism that has many labeling him as a rising star, but he cannot make this picture wortwhile. A few memorable scenes do exist, including a chance meeting with a bitter high-school classmate (James Legros), but the overall tale did little for me. I enjoy seeing a director focus more on characters than flashy effects, but a much-needed edge is missing from this road movie.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: World Traveler appears in its original 2.35:1 amaorphic widescreen format. This impressive transfer really captures the "road movie" feeling with pleasant outdoor images shot all over the country. The visual highlights occur on the coast of Oregon, where Cal drives by the ocean to meet his father. The darker, interior scenes are slightly grainy, but they still provide a generally clear image.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Numerous Willie Nelson songs inhabit the soundtrack to this film, which utilizes a decent 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer. Their words ring clearly through the soundfield, which clearly relates the lyrics to Cal's journey. The instrumental score also works nicely during the driving sequences while remaining fairly centralized. While not a knockout transfer, it does provide a worthwhile listening experience.

This release also contains a 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track, which works just a bit less than its digital counterpart.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, The Mystic Masseur
1 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Writer/director/producer Bart Freundlich, Cinematographer Terry Stacey, and Julianne Moore
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: World Traveler features an insightful commentary from writer/director Bart Freundlich, cinematographer Terry Stacey, and Julianne Moore. The two guys speak through most of the discussion, with Freundlich talking considerably about the characters and his goals for the story. They both retain a light tone and never fall into the trap of focusing too much on their own importance. Moore provides some interesting comments during her character's time on the screen and interacts nicely with Freundlich, who happens to be her off-screen companion.

This disc also includes one deleted scene that showcases Cal flirting with another attractive girl. It also provides more insight into a letter sent to his family. Freundlich provides optional commentary and explains that the scene needed to be cut for time and pacing reasons. The excised scene runs for about three minutes.

The final supplements are trailers for The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and The Mystic Masseur. Both trailers use adequate 1.33:1 pan & scan formats.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

World Traveler moves through each segment while providing little insight into the actions of its lead character. He drinks incessantly and is trying to find some meaning in his life, but the final answer is fairly obvious. This slow, meandering journey mostly remains adequate through the efforts of a dilligent cast. Their work lessens the saddening effect, but it still lingers for most of the film.


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