Traveling around the world can be tiring, and it shows from watching this movie. Although Cal (Billy Crudup, Charlotte Gray, Almost Famous) only travels across the United States, it feels a lot longer. Cal is looking for something in his life, and writer/director Bart Freundlich (The Myth of the Fingerprints) is probably looking for something too. It's never really that clear what exactly either one is doing. One can quickly surmise that Cal thinks the journey is going to be cathartic. He left his wife and young son in New York, and is probably hoping that he will experience some sort of epiphany along the way. Freundlich portrays Cal as a tabula rasa. One can say that it will be the people that he meets along the way that shape him.
One clear thing is that Cal may not be the best person in the world. He is constantly struggling with figuring out what is right and wrong, and frequently fighting his own inner demons. Each person he meets touches upon a different aspect of his life, and affects him differently. He meets a young hitchhiker (Liane Balaban, Saint Jude, After the Harvest), a waitress (Karen Allen, In the Bedroom, The Perfect Storm), and an old classmate, Jack (James LeGros, Scotland, PA, If You Only Knew). Cal barely remembers Jack, who has a pretty low opinion of Cal. He challenges Cal to do one good thing, something that hits Cal particularly hard.
The two people that affect him the most are Carl (Cleavant Derricks, Carnival of Souls, Bluffing It) and Dulcie (Julianne Moore, The Shipping News, Evolution). Carl is a co-worker at a construction job Cal takes. Cal's wife Margaret (Mary McCormack, K-PAX, High Heels and Low Lifes) dislikes Cal for the drinking influence he is bringing to Carl's life. Dulcie is a woman Cal meets and tries to help. She is involved in a dispute over her son, and Cal agrees to help drive her across the country.
Freundlich never makes it clear how exactly these people are helping Cal. More often than not, Cal influences them more than they do him, and often for the worse. Crudup's talent makes watching Cal more bearable. He easily sinks into the role of the lazy slacker, who is usually in over his head. Crudup is always very laid back in his roles, and it works towards establishing the character here. He also has capable help from Moore, Derricks, and David Keith (Behind Enemy Lines, Men of Honor), doing nicely in a non-military role for once. Still, good acting cannot change the fact that World Traveler is like feels like an episode of Seinfeld (minus the wit); it's about nothing.
|Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.|
|1 hour, 43 minutes, Rated R for language and some sexuality.|
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