Hey guys, Jana here,
Summer means a lot to me, there’s baseball, which I waxed pretty poetic about in last week’s Top 10 Baseball Movies post. There’s fishing, the fourth of July, a multi-colored tongue from Otter Pops, and the all important road trip. Your trip can be a short jaunt to the lake or it can be a days long event that usually culminates in an epic destination – Wally World, anyone? Whether you trip on your own, with your friends or with your family, there’s something wonderful about having a full tank of gas, a stereo full of tunes and the open road in front of you. Depending on who you’re with it can either feel like a hostage situation or a relaxing break from the weekly drag. Most good road trips feel like a bit of both, not to mention the longing for the comfort that is your home toilet.
I’m gonna count down my top 10 movies that feature a road trip. Strap in, kick on the A/C and let the lull of the road below you relaxes your worries. This was not an easy list to winnow down to only 10 with a few honorable mentions. I left off the obvious ‘Thelma and Louise‘, they’re best friends, they kill someone and drive off a cliff. Yeah, I didn’t give you a spoiler alert there because if you haven’t seen this movie by now, you were never going to. Some road trip movies are better than others and we had differing opinions from each other making this list. So read along and tell me where we agree or disagree or what I’ve left out.
TOP 10 Road Trip Movies
If you like your road trips with strangers, weapons, a set of rules, Bill Murray and the search for the last Twinkie, throw in a few zombies and ‘Zombieland‘ just might be the movie for you. Bill Murray sucks at a practical joke, you’re thanking God for rednecks, and the only goal in sight is a theme park. It’s crazy but remember Rule #32- enjoy the little things.
9 ‘Tommy Boy‘
Your dad dies and leaves you the family business, but you’re a party boy that never had to grow up. Do you let the business be sold out or do you grow up and try to fill your dad’s shoes? Tommy tries to take over his dad’s sales trip which means a road trip with his uptight, neurotic underling who knows Tommy doesn’t have what it takes. He’s also got the car that begins the journey cherried out, but doesn’t end the trip in quite the same condition. We learned that “Brothers don’t shake hands, brothers gotta hug!” We also learned that sticking your head up a butcher’s ass teaches you nothing about the steak. Yeah, that’s gonna leave a mark.
8 ‘Rain Man‘
Charlie Babbit is a self-centered con-man who is given a small inheritance from his father while his brother gets the lion’s share. Charlie never knew this brother existed until the will was read. So Charlie breaks his autistic savant brother from the institute where he lives. Charlie quickly learns that dealing with his brother takes a whole lot of patience and understanding which he doesn’t have, but develops through the course of their trip. Raymond is an excellent driver, he’s got to watch Wapner and only wears boxer shorts from K-Mart in Cincinnati.
7 ‘Little Miss Sunshine‘
What’s more classic than a road trip in a VW minibus? A family is determined to get their daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant, the journey takes them across the country. It’s pointed out that skipping high school is really a waste because those are your prime suffering years and as any student of Proust knows, you’re not growing if you’re not suffering. “Everyone, just…pretend to be normal.”
6 ‘Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle‘
I know you know what this flick is about because if you’ve made it this far, I’m assuming you can read. So we’ll just skip to the awesome that is the road trip for those tasty White Castle burgers. Out of all the obstacles they encounter on their journey, my favorite is the horny Neil Patrick Harris. Watching him do a line of coke off a stripper’s ass is fully ingrained in my memory and one of my favorite NPH moments on screen. Anyone who drives by and spots the wildlife as nothing more than a bit of scenery, clearly doesn’t remember the bloody raccoon that Roldy and Kumar have to deal with. Just because you decide to pee in the outdoors, doesn’t mean you won’t be joined shoulder to shoulder by some random dude that wants to pee on the same bush and check out your pubes. All for White Castle dude, and all worth it.
5 ‘Easy Rider‘
Two bikers sell drugs in So-Cal then take off towards their New Orleans destination. What they find and their interactions with various people, along the way, paints a picture of acceptance and intolerance in America. “They’ll talk to ya and talk to ya and talk to ya about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em.” That just about sums out America today.
4 ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure‘
1985 gave us the adventure, the man-child Pee-Wee Herman took when his beloved bicycle was stolen. This flick has the distinction of joining Paul Reubens with director Tim Burton (his first film), and musician Danny Elfman for a determined hunt for a missing bike. ” I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.” And remember, tell them Large Marge sent you.
3 ‘Motorcycle Diaries‘
The dramatization of a motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on in his youth that showed him his life’s calling. “How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?” “Wandering around our America has changed me more than I thought. I am not me any more. At least I’m not the same me I was.” This film shows you the type of spiritual journey you can take when you take a physical journey. Another film that gives you the same spiritual uplift is ‘Into The Wild‘, you know – before the tragic ending.
2 ‘The Blues Brothers‘
Jake and Elwood Blues learn that the boarding school they grew up in is in danger of closing if they can’t pay the taxes on time. They take on the challenge and head out on the road to put their blues band back together for a big show. “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.” An excellent movie with an even more remarkable soundtrack. Road Trip Tip – Listen to this soundtrack on your next road trip.
1 ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation‘
The Griswold family are on a quest. A quest to a Walley World theme park for a family vacation, but things aren’t going to go exactly as planned, especially when Clark Griswold is losing all thought towards a mysterious blonde in a red Ferrari. This is one of the greatest comedies of all time and a fantastic look at the quintessential family road trip.
Cameron Crowe’s film about life, hope and love isn’t a typical road trip movie. It proves that a solo trip can be just as enjoyable without your friends or family. The soundtrack was brilliantly put together featuring some original music by Nancy Wilson of the band ‘Heart‘, who just happens to have been married to Crowe at the time. The music is a fantastic mix of roots music, singer song writers like Ryan Adams, Tom Petty and Elton John’s ‘My Father’s Gun’ is a big standout.
‘Long Way Round’
This is technically a mini-series, so it couldn’t be included in the list. But this is one of the greatest road trips I’ve ever seen put on film. Actors Ewan McGregor and his best friend Charley Boorman travel from London to New York City but traveling East. This means they have to travel through some pretty wild areas but making the trip even harder is that they are doing it on motorcycles. They recorded their adventures with helmet cams and there was one lone camera man accompanying them. They encountered everything a good road trip is made of, new people and cultures, local flavor, fear for their lives and the relief at finding themselves at the ending point. It’s a fantastic watch and totally worth it.
‘Smokey and the Bandit’
Some road trip movies prove that picking up a hitchhiker is not a dangerous prospect. We see Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed barrel through 5 states as they bring a truck full of Coors Beer back to Georgia. It’s a fun movie that is pretty much moving non-stop, it also features one of the greatest laughs in all of movie history from Mr. Burt Reynolds.
‘House of 1000 Corpses’
There are some movies that prove you still shouldn’t pick up a hitchhiker and this is one of them. The road trip was just the catalyst that brought the victims to the titular house.
‘On The Road’
If there was one book that described the Beat Generation it would be Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road‘. The project was written based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends as they traveled the country, soaking up new environments, new people and new adventures.