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Ten Of The Best - Road Trip Movies - Articles Surfing
There's something about a good road movie that really captures the imagination. Is it because we are watching people do what we all secretly desire - dropping everything and hit the open road? Whether aiming to reach a specific destination or just escaping from the world they are living in, the characters in road movies invariably have to overcome endless obstacles, confront their weaknesses and fears and ultimately face their demons.
On their journeys, characters come to understand themselves and each other. Friendships are forged and broken and lives are irreversibly changed as normal people search for a change or even a new beginning in life. Good road movies are certain to offer a glimpse into a characters soul in a way that no other genre does, and it is most likely in this that their appeal lies.
Of the countless road movies that have been made, and in no particular order, here are ten of the best:
Smokey and the Bandit
Burt Reynolds and Sally Field star in this energetic, ludicrously funny jape about two runaways trying to evade a pantomime-villain style sheriff. Reynolds plays the Bandit, a devil-may-care troublemaker who is promised $80,000 to smuggle a truck full of bootleg beer across the country. Enter Sally Field; playing a runaway bride that steals the Bandit's heart. Comical antics ensue as they desperately try to evade the sheriff (Smokey) ' who just so happens to also be Field's would-be father-in-law. Initially panned by most critics, the film went on to earn almost 50 million dollars at the box office (in 1977) and has become a classic car chase caper.
Thelma and Louise
When Louise (Susan Sarandon) invites Thelma (Geena Davis) to go on a road trip to Mexico with her, she wants freedom and fun for herself, and a break for Thelma from her unhappy marriage. Mexico">All is going well until Louise, protecting the na've Thelma, shoots a would-be rapist in a bar parking lot and the two women are suddenly fugitives. On the run and without a cent, Thelma ' unbeknownst to Louise - robs a gas station. They head for Mexico, committing a string of crimes that makes it seem impossible to ever turn back. This ultimate road-trip buddy-movie is made all the more intriguing and memorable with its unorthodox female lead-roles.
Little Miss Sunshine
Perhaps one of the best films of 2006, Little Miss Sunshine is a small-budget movie with a big heart. When Olive Hoover wins (by default) entry into the Little Miss Sunshine child beauty pageant, her family hit the road in their banger of a VW van to get her to Florida in time for the pageant. Along the way Olive's weary mother, control freak father, heroin snorting granddad, suicidal gay uncle and angst ridden teenage brother are all forced to fight their own personal battles ' all while trying to keep Olive blissfully oblivious to their pains. This is a deliberately quirky, unashamedly feel-good film that contains a wonderfully unforced social commentary about the grotesque appurtenances of the children's beauty pageant.
National Lampoon's Vacation
Right from the start, everything that can go wrong goes wrong when the Griswolds set out on their cross-country drive to visit WallyWorld theme park. All the family wants is to get to their holiday destination and begin to actually enjoy themselves, but first they have to endure a hilariously farcical and often downright ridiculous series of mishaps and absurdities. With the brilliant Chevy Chase as the long-suffering and manically optimistic father of this cursed family, the laugh-out-loud gags and ludicrous situations come thick and fast and make for a comical and highly entertaining road trip movie.
When bounty hunter Jack Walsh (Robert DeNiro) is offered $100,000 to find and bring in swindler Jonathon Mardukas, he assumes that the job will be an easy one ' as his fellow bounty hunters would say, a 'Midnight Run'. What Walsh doesn't know is that the mob, the FBI and a rival bounty hunter are also trying to get their hands on the man he has handcuffed himself to, resulting in an action packed and very entertaining road trip. Great chase sequences punctuate the witty verbal battles between the two men, and great performances make the movie one that still delights, even after nearly 20 years.
Y tu mama Tambien
Deserted by their girlfriends for the summer, Mexican teenagers Julio and Tenoch encounter beautiful Luisa at a wedding. In an attempt to impress the older woman, they boast of their impending road trip to a secret beach ' Boca del Cielo. Luisa, bored and looking for some excitement, is captivated by the two young men and asks if she can go with them, much to their delight. The coming-of-age journey that follows is also an exploration of dualities ' between urban and rural life, rich and poor, life and death.
Natural Born Killers
Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Oliver Stone, Natural Born Killers is a Bonnie and Clyde for the 'MTV Generation'. Two emotionally disturbed lovers embark on a shockingly violent, consistently disturbing and intensely psychedelic road trip across Route 666, leaving behind them a trail of destruction and carnage. Glorified by a mass media - epitomised by sensationalist slime-ball reporter Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Junior) - Mickey and Mallory eventually reach the frantic climax in their murder spree in a scene of complete pandemonium. Definitely not light-viewing, this road trip movie is not very suitable for the squeamish or faint-hearted, and in fact was panned by many critics ' but if nothing else, it deserves inclusion in this list for it's originality of style and story.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Not quite as shockingly violent as Natural Born Killers, but without question equal if not greater in its psychedelic style, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas tells the story of Raoul Duke's madcap jaunt to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400 Motocross race with his Samoan attorney Dr. Gonzo. Based on author Hunter S. Thompson's own experiences, the film (adapted from the novel of the same name) journals the two oddball's drug-frenzied and entirely warped quest for the 'American Dream'. Inspired performances and bizarre, twisted cinematography and effects make this film one to watch ' after all a road trip in a car filled with nearly every narcotic, hallucinogen, amphetamine and barbiturate known to man is always going to be a wild ride.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
This Australian film chronicles the story of a transsexual woman and two drag queens as they drive from Sydney to Alice Springs in 'Priscilla', their big lavender bus. As they journey across the outback, they encounter misunderstanding and homophobia, reflect on their own lives, and reveal their innermost selves to each other. This is a wonderfully humorous, endearingly camp and really moving film ' though you may find yourself humming Gloria Gaynor to yourself for days after seeing it'.
Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is a self-absorbed car dealer who finds out that his recently deceased father has left him none of his $3,000,000 fortune. In his endeavours to track down the anonymous beneficiary of the money, Charlie meets autistic savant Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) who he soon discovers is his brother and the recipient of his father's estate. Charlie needs the money. To try to trick his brother into signing the $3,000,000 over to him, Charlie must drive the two of them across America in the '49 Buick his father left to him (along with some prize rose bushes). The road trip they take together sees Raymond unwittingly teach Charlie some valuable life lessons (despite ironically being unable to comprehend them himself), and rather than going through with his plans and taking advantage of the na've Raymond, Charlie reconnects with his forgotten past, embraces his brother, and rediscovers his Rain Man.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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