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The Road to Wellville (1994) – DVD Review

Road to Wellville DVD cover art


Written by: Alan Parker, based on the novel by T. C. Boyle
Directed by: Alan Parker
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Broderick, John Cusack, Bridget Fonda, Dana Carvey

Released by: Sony Pictures
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Nah; presented in a rockin’ 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Catch it on cable.

Because of new scientific knowledge and a reform-minded spirit, good health is the watchword for fin-de-seicle America. The man on the crest of this wave is Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (Hopkins), the developer of corn flakes and self-appointed health guru. While some of his ideas are sensible (increase of grains and vegetables into the diet, chewing food properly, and exercise), the majority are quite insane and possibly lethal (baths with electric shocks, total and I mean total abstinence, and colon cleaning five times a day). Two new victims… I mean guests to Kellogg’s Sanitarium are the Lightbodys, William (Broderick) and Eleanor (Fonda). Eleanor is a true believer and William is going along to please the wife. While being subjected to multiple enemas and other forms of torture, his sexual desires go into overdrive. You always want what you can’t have, I guess. Wanting to cash in on the health craze, Charles Ossining (Cusack) tries to open a new breakfast cereal company with a charming conman and the estranged adopted son of Dr. Kellogg, George (Carvey). Charles oscillates between greed and morality while trying to outrun creditors and the law.

Road to Wellville screen capture

The Road to Wellville could have been a biting satire on health fads and how easily we place our faith and money with any snake oil salesman with a good line. It is instead a scatological sex comedy. Not that I object to sex on film, but it needs to be in its proper place, like porn. I bet some executive looked at the script and said, “This is too high brow, put in some naked chicks and jokes about shit and farting. The Great Unwashed love jokes about farting.” Seriously, the story is more concerned with the Lightbodys getting off with other people than getting off weight. Fonda and Broderick give very generic performances, but it’s hard to tell with Hopkins eating all the scenery (he probably needed fiber). With the buckteeth and speaking in Bumper Sticker, the character becomes a weird cross between Bugs Bunny and Susan Powers and is just as cartoonish as America’s favorite rabbit. The plotline involving Ossining and his misadventures in business fits badly with the main plot and all the flashbacks with Kellogg and his adopted son doesn’t add anything to either character and should have been cut.

With no special features to bolster it up (coupled with the fact it’s not even in widescreen), there is nothing really to recommend this movie for even renting. Catch it on cable some time when it’s already paid for.

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