The best road trip movies

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Written by Asad Ali
| New Delhi |
Published: December 17, 2017 12:00 am


road trip movies Two for the road (1967) starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney

Hop on a yellow van or a classy Merc, fall in love and channel your inner wanderer. Five films that will go the distance with you.

Two for the Road (1967)

A 1967 British comedy drama, Two for the Road can certainly double up as an underrated road movie. It also has Audrey Hepburn so it needs to be seen anyway. Hepburn and Albert Finney are a couple torn asunder by marital complications. So they decide to go for a road trip to southern France, and the film is basically about the ‘ol discovering-each-other trope and figuring out what went wrong. But the film takes its road trips seriously. Just Google the cars used for the film — a Mercedes-Benz 230SL roadster, an MG TD, a Triumph Herald, a VW Microbus, and a Ford Country Squire — and you will know why.

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969)

Perhaps, nothing quite encapsulates hurtling through a travel itinerary more than a Euro trip. That whole experience, of rushing from one item on the checklist to the next, forms the foundation of Mel Stuart’s If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium. The story goes that the title of the film was taken from a New Yorker cartoon — it showed a woman near a tour bus exclaiming in frustration, “But if it’s Tuesday, it has to be Siena”. The film is about an English tour guide who takes Americans on an 18-day nine-country whirlwind excursion.

Wild at Heart (1990)

Roger Ebert called this Nicholas Cage-Laura Dern starrer a “lurid melodrama, soap opera, exploitation, put-on and self-satire.” But coming from the master of all films surreal, David Lynch, this one too made up for all cookie cutter travel films the audiences are usually exposed to. The basic plot revolves around Sailor Ripley (Cage) and Lula Fortune (Dern), a young couple from North Carolina, who hit the road as they go on the run from Lula’s mother and the men she hires to kill Sailor. Expect a lot of action, adventure and Cage at his philosophic best as he mouths the life credo behind his snakeskin jacket throughout the film: Did I ever tell ya that this here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom?

Thelma & Louise (1991)

In a review of the film, The Atlantic called it “the last great film about women”. The jury’s still out on that one (and it may be an all-male jury), but in the genre of travel/road films, Thelma & Louise is a must watch. Thelma (Geena Davis) is a housewife married to an unpleasant man and Louise (Susan Sarandon) is a waitress with no stable relationship. They decide to go out for a weekend trip to a fishing cabin in the mountains and their lives change forever after that, even as Louise shoots dead an attempted rapist. Not exactly a spoiler, but this film will give you a slightly different perspective of “riding into the sunset.”

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

This film does practically all things right. There’s a huge road trip in a van with a big family at the centre of it. And there’s a little girl who wants to win a beauty contest. That’s the simple plot of this Jonathan Dayton-Valerie Faris film. A totally dysfunctional family, where everyone has “issues”, but comes together because the youngest child in the family, Olive (Abigail Breslin), wants to win a beauty pageant. As they travel some 700 miles across the country in their cheap, now iconic yellow Volkswagen Type 2 van, the family members open up to each other, unwillingly so. A textbook plot but the treatment of the story and eclectic characters make it a very pleasant watch.

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