Freeway courtesy Republic Pictures
DVD Tuesday: Before she was Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon, she was a modern-day Red Riding Hood in Freeway

Once upon a time there was an underaged trailer-trash chippie named Vanessa Lutz ( Witherspoon), who hit the road when her mom and stepdad get arrested, hoping to crash with her grandma until social services forgets about trying to get her into the system. But there are big bad wolves prowling the freeway, like serial killer Bob Wolverton ( Kiefer Sutherland, looking suitably lupine). Little lost girls, beware!

Writer-director Matthew Bright's modern-day fairy tale Freeway is a blast, and Witherspoon is flawless casting as Vanessa: She's so tiny she looks convincingly vulnerable, but that little bulldog jaw tells you that she's tougher than she looks... and is she ever. Bright clearly saw the same steely determination that served Witherspoon so well in the role of Election's (1999) high-school overachiever Tracy Flick, but he saw it sooner. And I have to say, the twists and turns of Bright's plot really are cruelly spectacular.

I like contemporary spins on fairy-tale narratives, which may be why I'm one of the few people who adored the much-reviled Running Scared (2006). But Freeway is the cream of the crop: It puts a genuinely clever spin on one of the most familiar fairy tales of them all and has a great cast, including Brooke Shields as Wolverton's wife and Amanda Plummer and Michael T. Weiss as Vanessa's junkie parents, plus Dan Hedaya, Brittany Murphy, Bokeem Woodbine, Tara Subkoff and Alanna Ubach in various small roles.

It may not be on the short list of favorite films that Witherspoon mentions in interviews (OK, it absolutely isn't), but I highly recommend it!

Things to consider:

What's your favorite "skeleton in the closet" movie - something a now-famous star made when he or she was just starting out? How about:

Tom Hanks in the slasher flick He Knows You're Alone (1980)?

Johnny Depp in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) or future Medium Patricia Arquette in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)?

Kevin Bacon getting skewered in the original Friday the 13th (1980)?

Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger in Texas Chaimnsaw Massacre: The New Generation (1994)?

Sound off!

Send your movie questions to FlickChick.

Hear Maitland on the weekly podcast TV Guide Talk.

See Maitland MFriday the 13thcDonagh and Ken Fox review this week's new flicks on the Movie Talk vodcast.

Previously in DVD Tuesday:

A Mighty Wind
It's a Wonderful Life
All About Eve
Sweet Smell of Success
Daughters of Darkness
The Crazies
Blade Runner
A Simple Plan
Taxi Driver
Hot Fuzz
Ace in the Hole
Eyes Without a Face
Citizen Kane
La Jetée
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
Bob le Flambeur
Near Dark
Perfect Blue
Pan's Labyrinth
Les Girls
The Girl Who Knew Too Much
The Queen
Expresso Bongo
I'm Not Scared
Shocking Grindhouse Double Bill! - Scanners and The Candy Snatchers
Don't Look Now
Casino Royale
The Prestige
13 Tzameti
The Departed
Kiss and Make Up
Kiss Me Deadly
The Long Good Friday
What Alice Found
The Devil's Backbone
The Descent
The Devil Wears Prada
Pandora's Box
The Thief and the Cobbler
Panic in the Streets/Jack Palance Interview
The Pusher Trilogy
Sunset Blvd.
In Cold Blood