1993 Directed by Roger Weisberg. Starring Andrei Codrescu.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 15, 1993
Shot in 1991, Road Scholar is that rare film: a documentary road movie that looks at America with eyes not hampered by the rose-tinted cultural nostalgia which so often plagues similar ventures. The expected, whiny sense of “What has become of the American Dream?” is replaced here by wry, healthy cynicism, and then leavened with a touch of outsider's sentiment. This delightfully balanced tone would have been impossible, I think, if not for the participation of National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu, who states that his two claims to fame have, thus far, been the fact that he was born in Transylvania and his inability to drive a car. The film opens with Mr. Codrescu patiently sitting through a driver's education class, learning, at long last, how to drive. And then, seated behind the wheel of a mammoth, cherry-red 1968 Cadillac, Codrescu is off, first visiting old haunts (his time at Ellis Island is particularly moving), and then heading off into the land unknown, all the while offering us a running commentary that manages to be simultaneously touching and very, very hilarious. As a naturalized American citizen/poet, Codrescu has the unique ability to point out the obviously absurd as well as the absurdly obvious, without coming across as too much of a cynic. He's a far cry from Denis Leary, who trades in similar comic barbs, because Codrescu's eyes seem to be those of a child, awestruck and amused, unable to be fooled. Ending his journey in San Francisco, he speaks before an assembly of immigrants on the verge of citizenship. You can tell how honestly amazed he is to have come this far, and again, in the midst of hilarity, you are touched. XXXX Andrei Codrescu will be in attendance at the Friday, Oct. 15, 7:30pm screening. Europa Books is also sponsoring a Codrescu booksigning in the Dobie Theatre lobby that same evening.