Movies to Watch On A Road Trip

What is it about a road trip? Basically it’s just a long distance journey on the road, and it’s not always the destination that makes it worthwhile; it’s the detours, shenanigans and company that usually determine the make or break factor for any good road trip.

At a time when people are most decidedly choosing not to travel, we decide to focus on road trip movies, because if we can’t do it, then we’re all about watching it. From a famous rock band sorting through issues on tour to a dysfunctional family just doing their best to get a little girl to her pageant, and from a dystopian future where insanity runs amok in armoured vehicles to a group of survivors trying to survive through a zombie wasteland, we’ve got all manners of road trips on screen for you.

Almost Famous (2000)

Directed by Cameron Crowe

Starring Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudon and Billy Crudup

Destination: A bunch of concert stops for Stillwater’s nationwide tour, where a teenaged William Miller tags along in a job profiling the band for Rolling Stone. 

While this movie mostly features the raucous goings-on when on the road for a concert tour with a headlining rock band, this is a coming-of-age tale and told in the perspective of a fifteen-year old whose writing talents lands him a job covering Stillwater while on tour. The movie focuses on his relationship with the band, most notably the star guitarist, and the groupies that follow them on their tour, most notably one Penny Lane. This movie is about the power of music and the price you pay for fame, and the lost souls that become ensnared in it.

Easy Rider (1969)

Directed by Dennis Hopper

Starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson

Destination: Mardi Gras in New Orleans via two motorcycles

Basically about two hippies freewheeling their way to New Orleans across America with the money they earned from smuggling drugs, this is by no means an easy movie to watch. It’s a sometimes uncomfortable and in-your-face movie, and as the two bikers take their cross-country journey, this iconic movie focuses on the altered American landscape, and covers issues about drugs, the generational divide, and the hippie life.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Starring Steve Carrell, Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear

Destination: The Little Miss Sunshine child beauty pageant in California

The Hoover family is just as dysfunctional as your own, if not more so, but they strap their issues together and put aside their differences so they can pile up in a van to travel from New Mexico to California, to achieve the dreams of young and idealistic Olive Hoover who just wants to compete in a child beauty pageant.

Zombieland (2009)

Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Starring Jesse Eisenberge, Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson

Destination: The Pacific Playland amusement park in Los Angeles

So it’s the apocalypse, zombies are eating humans, and things are looking pretty dire. Loners and bitter alliances are formed in the name of survival, and this is the reason why four people team up to travel across a dystopian landscape to the Pacific Playland amusement park in Los Angeles, which is reputed to be free of zombies. Along the way, the ragtag group being to realize that without human connection, surviving doesn’t necessarily mean living.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Directed by George Miller

Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult

Destination: “The green place”

Another dystopian landscape but this time across a desert wasteland, and Max Rockatansky has just escaped the clutches of the evil Immortan Joe. Unfortunately, he’s got a bunch of crazies on his tail, and they’re in armoured vehicles that should only exist in your nightmares. But he and the ass-kicking Furiosa form a shaky truce to protect the women she saved from Immortan Joe, and they journey through the barren landscape trying to outrun the crazies in the hopes of finding a place to live in peace.

Thelma & Louise (1991)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Harvey Keitel

Destination: Mexico 

This film was all about feminism before anyone had much of an idea about it, and it rings even more strongly today in this #MeToo era than it did back then. Back then, this movie was about two women deciding to take a break from their admittedly crappy lives to take a road trip, which then turns into a manhunt after Louise shoots a man who tried to rape Thelma. As they drive their way across America dodging the cops, the film explores the roles of woman in society, friendships and self-reliance, and finishes in a real humdinger of an ending. Also, that might or might not be Brad Pitt’s actual posterior, but the jury’s still out on that one.

GH9BB1 THELMA & LOUISE / Thelma & Louise USA 1991 / Ridley Scott Louise (SUSAN SARANDON) und Thelma (GEENA DAVIS) Regie: Ridley Scott aka. Thelma & Louise. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)

Directed by Larry Charles

Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian and Luenell

Destination: To Pamela Anderson, who’s in California

Pretty much anyone who has followed Sacha Baron Cohen at this time knew what they were getting when watching this movie, and it didn’t disappoint. Borat is a TV reporter from Kazakhstan, and he’s sent to America to make a documentary about their society and culture. He is taking a course in New York when he stumbles upon Baywatch on television, falls in love with Pamela Anderson, and decides to go on a quest to California to make her his wife. His journey takes him through some real situations with the Americans that he meets along the way, and predictably enough, laugh out loud hilarity ensues.

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

Directed by Harold Ramis

Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo and Imogene Coca

Destination: Walley World

This is Chevy Chase’s first role as the overly ambitious father Carl W. Griswold, who just wants to take his family to Walley World for a family vacation. But as it will always go with the Griswolds, things don’t go quite as planned, and mishaps, accidents, and a mysterious blonde in a red Ferrari, all become insurmountable odds for the Griswold family who are just trying to get to their theme park destination.

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