Road Thrill: Take A Wild Ride With `Thelma And Louise'

XXX "Thelma and Louise," with Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Christopher McDonald. Directed by Ridley Scott, from a script by Callie Khouri. Guild 45th, Factoria, Everett, Renton Village, SeaTac North, Valley Drive-In. "R" - Restricted due to nudity, violence, strong language. ------------------------------------------------------------ Louise (Susan Sarandon) is a cafe waitress whose guitarist boyfriend Jimmy (Michael Madsen) can't give her the commitment she wants.

Thelma (Geena Davis) is a housewife whose husband Darryl (Christopher McDonald) "kind of prides himself on being infantile," as she puts it. He hardly knows his wife exists. He certainly doesn't take her seriously.

No wonder these two women are looking forward to their weekend getaway. They can't get along with their men. The question is: Can they get along with each other?

Louise has her first doubts when Thelma piles into the car with a ton of luggage and a gun (for "psycho killers, bears, snakes," Thelma explains). Thelma has her doubts when it looks as if Louise is going to throw a damper on the weekend's fun.

The fun soon turns nasty - and the gun, of course, winds up being used on unforeseen species of wildlife.

Within 15 minutes, "Thelma and Louise" becomes a rollicking, female-buddy road movie.

It's a gorgeous, harebrained film - alternately numbing and exhilarating - with two terrific performances from Sarandon and

Davis at its core, and some tasty support from McDonald and Madsen. Adding to the fun are Harvey Keitel, as a police investigator who takes a solicitous interest in the two women when they run afoul of the law, and Brad Pitt, as a hitchhiker who believes that armed robbery, done properly, doesn't have to be "a totally unpleasant experience."

Sarandon and Davis play splendidly off each other, with Davis transforming herself from cowering housewife to sassy outlaw with hilarious ease, and Sarandon - savoring her role as a wry cynic from way back - getting more and more jittery as she tries to keep her head in increasingly dire situations. Feisty confrontations with an ogling trucker and a suspicious state trooper keep things moving.

Where director Ridley Scott ("Blade Runner," "Alien") goes overboard is in introducing some "Alien"-size hardware into this personable comedy-drama. Sinister crop dusters, menacing oil wells, hurtling railroad trains - all are photographed (and recorded: this is a loud movie) to expressionistic excess. Even the rain is hyperactive - and why is it always sunny when there's a downpour?

A relentless country-rock soundtrack gets oppressive, too (although hilarious use is made of Tammy Wynette's "I Don't Want To Play House"). And some gratuitous pyrotechnics toward the end seem to have been included for sheer spectacle rather than for what they add to the movie.

Still, there are plenty of great one-liners in Callie Khouri's script, and cinematographer Adrian Biddle never fails to give viewers an eye full - even when it's a ridiculous eye full.

"I always wanted to travel," Thelma recalls toward the end of the picture. "I just never got the opportunity."