Long, long ago, back in May of the year 2000, Bill Clinton was enjoying his final year in the White House while Mayor Rudy Giuliani continued his never-ending war on ferrets here in NYC. The Yankees and Mets were at the start of a baseball season that would culminate in the thrilling first "Subway Series" between them. "Maria Maria" by Santana featuring The Product G&B was the #1 song in the country; Gladiator was dominating the box office; Andrea Bocelli was singing for Pope John Paul II in Rome; and Bjork was being cinematically tortured by Lars von Trier in Dancer In The Dark.
Meanwhile, a young director named Todd Phillips took it upon himself to try to harness the undeniable, raw star power of MTV provocateur Tom Green and channel it into a post-American Pie coming-of-age movie that would launch a new golden era of raunchy college films (see also: Old School, Euro Trip). Alongside Seann William Scott, Paulo Costanzo, Breckin Meyer and DJ Quallis, who were really truly once considered the cream of up-and-coming actors according to some casting agent in Hollywood, Phillips gifted the world with Road Trip, a bittersweet ode to regret, the wanton folly of youth, and a time when people mailed VHS sex tapes to one another. It was The Sure Thing for the era of Kid Rock & Buckcherry.
If you're wondering why anyone would be getting so nostalgic over Road Trip, it's because this most unlikely of films has popped up at the Nostrand Avenue subway station in Brooklyn this week. Or at least, the original subway advertisement for it has.
Darius Rafieyan spotted the poster there Sunday night around midnight. "I had just dropped off a rental car at JFK and I’d be driving all day and was deliriously tired," he told Gothamist. "When I first saw this poster, I wasn’t entirely sure I hadn’t been transported back to the early 2000s. I even checked the other posters in the station to make sure I was actually in 2019."
Rafieyan quickly was able to establish his temporal whereabouts. "Then when I realized what had happened, that this poster had just been sitting there getting papered over for twenty years, my mind was fully blown," he said. "I started wondering what other wonderful treasures were lurking underneath all the other subway ads. Then I started thinking about how much the world has changed since that poster went up—I mean Clinton was president when that movie came out, it was more than a year before 9/11. It was a different world entirely. Like who were the people who walked by that poster when it was fresh, what were they thinking about, and where are they now?"
And he wondered: could a movie as beautifully of its time as Road Trip even exist nowadays? "It would NEVER get made in 2019," he reasoned. "I mean, it stars Tom Green for god’s sake. It’s like this little piece of a lost civilization preserved in amber."
Phillips went on to make a few more of these collegiate sex comedies and raunchy remakes (Old School, Starsky & Hutch, School for Scoundrels), before moving onto his lucrative, darker Hangover period (Phillips once referred to the first Hangover film as "my Star Wars"). It isn't just that the studios probably wouldn't make a film like Road Trip anymore—Phillips has also come a long, long way, as he is about to launch his biggest, darkest movie yet this fall, a little film called Joker.
If all this has got you a bit nostalgic for the early '00s, keep that high going with the video below showing Times Square in May 2000.