The Road to Wellville (1994) Movie Review
The Road to Wellville is a 1994 period piece comedy film starring Anthony Hopkins, John Cusack, Matthew Broderick, Dana Carvey, and Bridget Fonda. An over the top story of a man with his wife staying at a Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan run by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg uses unconventional methods to treat the patients, such as outlandish forms of nutrition, enemas, and exercise. He is also responsible for inventing flaked cereal.
The Battle Creek Sanitarium of healthy living run by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (Anthony Hopkins) is a shining example of alternative medicine in the early 20th century. Will (Matthew Broderick)
and Eleanor Lightbody (Bridget Fonda), a married couple arrive at the health farm after traveling on a train. Charles Ossining (John Cusack), an enterprising young man also arrives to get rich off the booming cereal industry.
Throughout Will and Eleanor’s stay at the “San”, they cannot eat meat, have sex, or masturbate. This is Will Lightbody’s first time at the health farm, unlike his wife. Mr. Lightbody starts having hallucinations and sexual fantasies of his beautiful personal attendant, Nurse Irene Graves (Traci Lind) in the nude. She gives Will colonic washes for his intestinal problems consisting of hot wax, soap, and tepid water, enemas, and laxatives. Will also has yogurt fed through his anus, exercises, and painful mechanical hydro-therapy. In starting the Perfo Cereal Company, the gullible Charles Ossining is getting swindled by his more experienced sleazy partner, Goodloe Bender (Michael Lerner). Joining them is George (Dana Carvey), the estranged and freakish adopted son of Harvey Kellogg. Elsewhere, Eleanor gets befriended by the obese, Virginia Cranehill (Camryn Manheim).
Eleanor gets persuaded by Virginia into sexual stimulation with Dr. Spitzvogel (Norbert Weisser), and Dr. Lionel Badger (Colm Meaney). Will Lightbody is also resorting to self-gratification while using masturbation devices, eating meat, and getting drunk with Mr. Ossining. He is also having an affair with Nurse Graves and Ida Muntz (Lara Flynn Boyle), who later dies from her “green sickness”. Ossining fails in his business endeavor and resorts to stealing Kellogg’s cornflakes, repackaging them in their own boxes, and later gets arrested. The peaceful community of the Battle Creek Sanitarium starts falling apart as more people start dying. It is lit ablaze by George Kellogg during one of his tantrums. George and his father reconcile, shortly afterwards and in the ensuing chaos Charles Ossining escapes prison. The troubled Lightbody couple also reconcile and live happily ever after. As for Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, he continues to teach and practice healthy living.
The Road to Wellville is an underrated movie that did not get the attention it deserved when released in 1994. It was a box office failure. The public considered it to be too silly. In some ways the film is like a Looney Tunes cartoon come to life. The movie shouldn’t be taken seriously and is pure entertainment. The film has some similarities to a Mel Brooks or Terry Gilliam Monty Python movie with its mixture of British wit, subdued, offbeat, and toilet humor. The Road to Wellville might also remind you of the Three Stooges. The dialogue for the film might turn off some people since it can be considered disgusting. The discussions in the Road to Wellville are centered on feces, enemas, farts, fornication, masturbation, orifices, nudity, orgasms, chewing food, and sex.
Director Alan Parker, who directed more serious films with Angel Heart and Mississippi Burning put together a fine cast. All the actors in the Road toe Wellville give spirited performances for their oddball characters and make it a pleasure to watch. Anthony Hopkins puts on an Oscar worthy performance as the bizarre Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. He is the best thing about it with his hilarious appearance, facial expressions and great lines.
- Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: Sex is the sewer drain of a healthy body, sir! Any use of the sexual act other than procreation is a waste of vital energy! Wasted seeds are wasted lives!
- Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: Masturbation is the silent killer of the night! The vilest sin of self-pollution! It is the sin of Onan!
- Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: I warn you sir, an erection is a flagpole on your grave.
- Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: Build up your resolve, not your genitals!
- Will Lightbody: Oh, I can’t eat fifteen gallons of yogurt.
- Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: Oh, it’s not going in that end, Mr. Lightbody.
- Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: My own stools, Sir, are gigantic and have no more odor than a hot biscuit.
- Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: Poult, I believe you’ve suffered a heart attack.
- Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: Worse, much worse, you’re dead, sir. Could you have picked a better place to die, Poult? Instead of out here in the street in front of everybody? Some poster child for biological living you are!
I’ve always liked John Cusack in most any film I have seen him in. He is very energetic and subtly amusing as the in over his head Charles Ossining. The scenes with him sitting out in the rain looking miserable, getting thrown out of a gentlemen’s hotel, walking through the streets with his cane, and fancy clothes are funny. It’s like who does this idiot think he is, doesn’t the poor fool know he is getting duped? Matthew Broderick does a great job during his sexual hallucinations of a naked Nurse Graves and Ida Muntz with the hilarious facial expressions he puts on. He has some excellent lines as Eleanor’s husband.
- Will Lightbody: Massaging your colon! I know where the colon is and it doesn’t stick up in the air!
- Will Lightbody: Mr. Unpronounceable is dead! They’re all dead! They’ve been electrocuted!
Colm Meaney, who you may know as the engineer on the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine TV series is a fine addition to the movie. The scenes with him and Dr. Spitzvogel manipulating Camryn Manheim and Bridget Fonda into acts of sexual pleasure are some of the funniest scenes in the film. Eleanor and Virginia are getting their clitoris stimulated (Handhabung) by Dr. Spitzvogel, while Colm is next to them on the ground. Will Lightbody shows up and accuses Colm of masturbating. Colm defiantly replies with, “Sir I was not!” “I was massaging my colon.” Camryn Manheim as Virginia Cranehill is funny as an independent woman and early feminist.
Jacob Reynolds from the Harmony Korine directed film Gummo (1997) makes an appearance as a young George Kellogg. Jacob is seen farting while the rest of Harvey Kellogg’s 39 adopted children sing Christmas songs, throwing ridiculous tantrums, putting on bizarre looking emotionless facial expressions, and getting scolded by his father. John Neville from The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen movie is good as Endymion Hart in a small role. Dana Carvey portrays the adult version of George Kellogg. He is one of the best things about the film as a smelly, dirty looking, and mentally ill mess. Dana Carvey has some funny scenes with great lines. I found myself laughing during his rampage when George throws boxes of shit at the guests.
- George Kellogg: I came for my allowance and I like to look at the nude ladies.
- George Kellogg: You have a very nice body, Mrs. Nicebody.
- George Kellogg: My mother had a nice body. She was a whore.
- George Kellogg: Give us a cuddle daddy.
- Charles Ossining: The doctor is a very great man.
- George Kellogg: He’s a fuck pig! I hate him!
The movie has some lavish set designs and is beautiful to look at with its expensive and authentic looking early 20th Century buildings, pubs, clothing, and the peaceful looking Battle Creek health farm. You can tell the movie was an expensive production for when it was made. I’m sure the cast enjoyed being taken back in time and lived it up with great style. The quirky theme song played throughout fits the bizarre tale well. There is brief nudity in some scenes, breasts and butt shots. Two breasts shots of actresses Tracy Lind and Lara Flynn Boyle, along with various looks at ugly fat people. Makes you wonder if some of the actors felt unconformable showing their not so perfect figures? The Road to Wellville is very entertaining, with a well written script, great performances, and high replay value. Just don’t take the movie seriously and you might die from laughter.
The Road to Wellville (1994) Movie Trailer
Filed Under: Comedy
About the Author: Hello and welcome to Rancel's Movie, TV Show, Animated Films, and Japanese Anime Review Website. I love writing, watching films (especially foreign cinema and horror), playing video games, listening to music, repairing computers, and spending time with people I love. I have always been into the world of cinema, animated films, and TV series. So now as an adult I am an amateur film reviewer.