T RAVELLER IS A mediocre movie, and there's
nothing more tiresome. I feel a little sick and confused when
I think about how much money and effort it takes to produce a
film like this one, which will sink at the box office only to
bob up at the video store a few months down the line before being
almost totally forgotten. Maybe in 10 years you'll rent a movie,
and there'll be an old preview for Traveller at the beginning,
and you'll try to remember it, because you lived through the '90s
and it seems sad that so much of it didn't sink in. But you won't
remember, because Traveller is self-erasing.
I'm not sure it's even worth the effort to explain exactly how
and why Traveller is so tepid--I mean, why add to the boredom?
It could reach critical mass and then everything would stop. No.
Instead, I'd like to mention some especially annoying aspects
of the movie in no particular order.
Like, the title--Traveller. What's with the double L?
It doesn't look right. It looks misspelled, and this question
is never answered to my satisfaction: What is a traveller? In
what sense could he be said to be "traveling"? According
to the movie, a traveller is a male, small-time con-artist affiliated
with a larger family of con artists. I gathered they all lived
in trailers. Even the sweet little grandma lived in a trailer.
Unlike most trailer-dwellers, they're wealthy, because they con
people out of thousands of dollars all the time. They're not allowed
to marry "outsiders," although there only seem to be
about 30 travellers, including offspring, total. Shouldn't we
be seeing a few extra limbs? Also, when the whole family gets
together, we hear bagpipe music on the soundtrack. Why?
Bill Paxton is the main-character traveller in the movie (who
goes by the name Bokky), and this question is never answered to
my satisfaction: What's with Bill Paxton? Is he the Bill Bixby
of the '90s? He's bland, he's inoffensively cuddly, he's in everything--but
it's impossible to remember his name. This is my definition of
Here's a piece of dialogue from Traveller: "Are you
going to get up off your lardcan and help, or are you just going
to sit there?" This is a prelude to a romantic interlude
between a feisty barmaid (Julianna Margulies) and Bokky. All
the dialogue in this movie has this same annoying, down-home,
twang. Maybe I'm just a city kid, but I don't believe people really
talk like this. I think only people in movies meant to be "folksy"
talk like this. It reminds me of a Bartelby & James wine cooler
commercial with light profanity.
In fact, Traveller as a whole reminded me of other movies.
Not any specific movie, just movies. The dialogue is familiar.
The characters are retreads. There's a crusty-but-warm-hearted
old guy with another funny name--Double D. He gets Bokky into
trouble. There's a kid--a young man trying to come of age or something
and prove he's a good traveller, too. (The kid is played by Mark
Wahlberg, whose performance was one of the two enjoyable parts
of the movie. The guy naturally exudes psycho-level malevolence.)
They drive around the country conning people, but in almost no
time Paxton is filled with remorse so he stops the cons. The scenes
where he conned people were the second enjoyable part of the movie.
I think there was an undercurrent of racial prejudice in Traveller,
but, like the bagpipe music, I couldn't quite figure it out. I
was annoyed to find the bad guy was referred to only as "the
Turk." He was played by a bald actor with bad skin and seemed
a pleasant enough guy, even though Double D and Paxton kept saying
he's a jerk. I wondered if they considered him a jerk because
he was a Turk, and I also wondered what's so offensive about Turks.
Didn't they give the world Turkish Delight?
But the biggest annoyance of Traveller is that to view
it is to lose two hours of time that can never be retrieved. If
Traveller didn't exist in time, but only took up space,
it wouldn't be as annoying. It would be better still if it existed
in neither time nor space.
I am not going to get up off my lardcan. I am just going to sit