The Road to Wellville (film)
|The Road to Wellville|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alan Parker|
|Produced by||Alan Parker
Robert F. Colesberry
|Screenplay by||Alan Parker|
|Based on||The Road to Wellville
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
|Music by||Rachel Portman|
|Editing by||Gerry Hambling|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||118 minutes|
The Road to Wellville is a 1994 American comedy-drama film adaptation of T. Coraghessan Boyle's novel of the same name, which tells the story of the doctor and clean-living advocate John Harvey Kellogg and his methods as employed at the Battle Creek Sanitarium at the start of the 20th Century. It was written and directed by Alan Parker.
The film stars Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Kellogg, Matthew Broderick as William Lightbody, Bridget Fonda as his spouse Eleanor, John Cusack as Charles Ossining, Dana Carvey as the doctor's adopted son George, and Colm Meaney as Dr. Lionel Badger.
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg has opened a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he puts into practice his unusual methods for maintaining health, including colonic irrigation, electrical stimulus and sexual abstinence, as well as vegetarianism and physical exercise. The sanitarium attracts a number of well-to-do patients including William and Eleanor Lightbody, who are suffering from ill health following the premature death of their child. On their way to Battle Creek they meet Charles Ossining, who is hoping to make his fortune by exploiting the craze for health food cereals.
Ossining finds a partner in Goodloe Bender. Having enlisted the services of George Kellogg, the doctor's estranged adopted son, they attempt to produce "Kellogg's Perfo Flakes."
In the sanitarium, Will Lightbody is separated from his wife and begins harboring lustful thoughts toward Nurse Graves and patient Ida Muntz. His wife Eleanor, meanwhile, befriends Virginia Cranehill, who has a modern attitude toward sexual pleasure, influenced by the works of Dr. Lionel Badger. Will finally succumbs to Ida Muntz's charms. Later he discovers that Ida has died during treatment. Following the death of a patient in the sinusoidal bath, as well as the discovery of yet another death, Will has a breakdown, flees the sanitarium, gets drunk and eats meat. At the restaurant he meets Ossining and agrees to invest $1,000 in his health food business. Will returns drunk to the sanitarium, where he is reprimanded by Dr. Kellogg and abandoned by a distraught Eleanor.
Ossining's business is a disaster with no edible products. He and his partners resort to stealing Kellogg's cornflakes and repackaging them in their own boxes. Ossining meets his aunt, a potential investor, at a visiting day at Kellogg's sanitarium, where he is exposed as a fraud and arrested.
Nurse Graves attempts to seduce Will. He is guilt-stricken and spurns her advances. He goes to find Eleanor, only to find her and Virginia Cranehill receiving clitoral massages from Dr. Spitzvogel at the same time Dr. Badger is masturbating. Will, incensed, thrashes Dr. Spitzvogel with a branch and takes Eleanor away.
George Kellogg pays a visit to his father but things go badly, and he burns the sanitarium down. In the chaos, Ossining escapes. Kellogg does seem to reconcile with George in the mud bath in the aftermath of the fire.
In a final coda, the Lightbodys are happily married with four daughters. Will receives a cheque for $1,000 from Ossining, who has become a cola beverage tycoon. Dr. Kellogg dies of a heart attack while diving off a high board.
- Anthony Hopkins as Dr. John Harvey Kellogg
- Matthew Broderick as William Lightbody
- Bridget Fonda as Eleanor Lightbody
- John Cusack as Charles Ossining
- Dana Carvey as George Kellogg
- Michael Lerner as Goodloe Bender
- Colm Meaney as Dr. Lionel Badger
- John Neville as Endymion Hart-Jones
- Lara Flynn Boyle as Ida Muntz
- Traci Lind as Nurse Graves
- Camryn Manheim as Virginia Cranehill
- Roy Brocksmith as Poultney Dab
- Norbert Weisser as Dr. Spitzvogel
Critical reception 
The film received mixed to negative reactions at the time of its release, with a good deal of criticism towards the scatological nature of the film. Hopkins' portrayal of Kellogg was also singled out for criticism. The film has a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 17 reviews.
Despite this, not all of the reviews were negative. Writing in Bright Lights Film Journal, Tanfer Emin-Tunc commented: "It is a sophisticated blend of humor and documented historical material that seeks to question the various forms that race and class have assumed in twentieth-century American society."
The film flopped at the box office, opening at #5 with $2,580,108 in its opening weekend and grossing only $6,562,513 domestically in its entire run.
- The Road to Wellville at the Internet Movie Database
- The Road to Wellville at AllRovi
- The Road to Wellville at Box Office Mojo
- The Road to Wellville at Rotten Tomatoes