It’s a little bit strange to go from watching and reviewing a film like Once Upon A Time In America to watching and reviewing a film like 1987’s Three For The Road. But that’s one reason that I like doing things like Shattered Politics. It’s always interesting to see how many different films can all be linked together by common elements. In the case of Shattered Politics, those shared elements are politics and politicians.
Three For The Road is an 80s comedy. In fact, it’s one of the most stereotypically 80s films ever made. Senator Kitteride (Raymond J. Barry) may very well be the next President of the United States but first he has to do something about his rebellious teenage daughter (Kerri Green). He has arranged for her to be shipped down to a reform school down South.
But who can he trust to drive her down there? How about the newest member of his staff, Paul Tracy? Paul looks up to Sen. Kitteridge and has political ambitions himself. He’s such a responsible guy that, while all of his roommates are busy getting drunk and having sex, Paul locks himself away in his bedroom and studies. So, naturally, who is cast as this straight-laced, ultra-responsible, uptight guy? Why Charlie Sheen, of course!
Now, Paul has a roommate who comes along on the road trip with him and Robin. T.S. is an aspiring writer. (His actual name is Tommy but he demands to be known as T.S., in honor of T.S. Eliot.) T.S. is an intellectual. T.S. is a serial womanizer who is hit on by nearly every woman he meets. (T.S. always asks them to name their favorite author as a test.) So, of course, T.S. is played Alan Ruck, who is better known for playing Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Now, to be honest, I’m being a bit snarky here and that’s not really fair to either Sheen or Ruck. Yes, they’re both miscast but that doesn’t mean that they don’t give good performances. They both do as well as they can with the material that they’ve been given. It’s just that the material itself… well, I’ll get to that in a minute.
Three For The Road is not a bad film as much as it’s just an extremely forgettable one. From the minute it opens with the predictable shots of D.C. landmarks to Paul and Robin falling in love to the eventual revelation that Sen. Kitteridge isn’t the great man that Paul thinks that he is, it all just feels extremely generic. The film probably works best as a time capsule, a portrait of when it was made.
If you go to Three For The Road‘s imdb page, you can find a comment that was left by film director Richard Martini. Martini wrote the original script for what would eventually develop into Three For The Road. I say “develop” because, as Martini explains it, his script was apparently changed and rewritten on a daily basis. While that’s certainly not a surprising thing to hear, it does sound like Martini’s original version would have made for a more interesting film.
In Martini’s original script, Sen. Kitteridge’s motivation for sending Robin to the institution was that Robin was embarrassing him with her own left-wing political activism. That would have certainly brought a much needed edge to the film’s politics because, in the film that was eventually made, there’s really no point to Kitteridge being a senator. He could just as easily have been a wealthy businessman or maybe a college president. But apparently, once filming started, it appears that the filmmakers went for the least edgy approach possible.
(Martini also commented that, as a result of the actual film being so different from his original script, that he hates to read reviews of the film. And, needless to say, I don’t blame him. If Richard Martini is reading this review, please accept my apologies for any bad memories this review may have brought up.)
Three For The Road has never been released on DVD or Blu-ray but you can watch it on YouTube.