Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper shun haircuts in favour of biking across America in search of drugs and free love. Easy Rider defines its era with a fitting lack of clarity.
Beavis and Butt-Head do America
“Uh, Beavis, I think we’re gonna score.” They never did, but MTV’s second ever film put our favourite monosyllabic teens on the road. Mike Judge’s title characters were supported by roles from Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.
Little Miss Sunshine
Bets were taken on whether the VW bus or the dysfunctional family inside it would break down first in Little Miss Sunshine. Eventually things turned ugly at a junior beauty pageant is this disturbing comedy.
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) hits the road with his family in tow in the first – and best – of the National Lampoon’s films. The destination is Walley World amusement park, but the predictably chaotic journey takes a turn for the worse when cantankerous Aunt Edna comes along for the ride.
You’re highly autistic and scared of change. Worst case scenario: you find out you have a secret brother who wants to take you on a road trip. Actually, it’s worse than that: your brother is Tom Cruise.
Bombon: El Perro
One man and his dog hit the road in this humble Hispano-Argentine road movie about luck, fate and kindness. And the sex lives of dogs.
The Sure Thing
It’s not a bet. It’s a girl. And not the girl John Cusack has to share a ride with to get to the party. Think The African Queen on asphalt and you’re pretty much there.
How anyone managed to successfully pitch a wine-tasting buddy movie we’ll never know. Thankfully, they did, and this rich caper though California’s vineyards is the result. Sales of merlot plummetted.
A kid called Columbus (played by Jesse “Zuckerberg” Eisenberg) emerges from a World of Warcraft marathon to find zombies have taken over America. When Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) shows up, Columbus joins his road-based quest for Twinkies and zombie annihilation.
Thelma & Louise
Ridley “Alien” Scott once again opts for talent over totty in Thelma & Louise. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon go on the run in a ’66 Thunderbird convertible after killing a hillbilly. The, ahem, cliffhanger ending is the stuff of legend.
The Motorcycle Diaries
Before kickstarting the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara kickstarted a Norton 500 called La Poderosa and set off on a trip with his mate Alberto. Fortunately for us, he kept a diary. Better still, we don’t have to read it thanks to this excellent film.
The Straight Story
The Straight Story makes David Lynch seem normal for a couple of hours. It also impresses the lesson that if you’re undertaking a road trip to see your aged, ailing brother, you should drive something faster than a ride-on lawnmower.
It’s the early days of the motor car, and Steve McQueen is pioneering joyriding in a canary yellow Winton Flyer. His mate Ned comes along for the ride, ostensibly to teach horses to race by feeding them sardines. You had to be there.
According to the tagline, it’s “the greatest college tradition of all.” Whether that applies to mailing your long-distance girlfriend a sex tape of your exploits with a fellow student or the ensuing titular journey is the closest this comedy gets to ambiguity. Not subtle, but it raises a smile.
Depending who you listen to, Vanishing Point is either an incisive existentialist commentary on the post-Woodstock era or a confusing waste of petrol. Watch it for the stunningly shot scenery and pick a side.
An unknown actor called Mel Gibson stepped up to play the lead in his native Australia’s violence-drenched fictional future where bike gangs maraud the deserted highways in search of trouble. Such was the brutality, the film was banned in Sweden until 2005.
Y Tu Mama Tambien
This road trip-based Mexican menage-a-trois demonstrates that sex can easily be juxtaposed for the usual gas station/roadhouse/wisecracking road trip antics with equally destructive results. Good times.
Smokey and the Bandit
If you’ve never seen Smokey and the Bandit, you probably grew up in house without a TV. Endless repeats aside, it was the second-highest grossing film of 1977. The first? A little sci-fi effort called Star Wars.
Dennis Weaver’s terrified salesman is chased by a massive truck for an hour. Although made for TV, not cinematic release, Spielberg’s feature directing debut is much better than it sounds.
The Cannonball Run
Based on real events, The Cannonball Run is what Wacky Races would have looked like as a live-action movie with a Jackie Chan cameo. Roger Moore plays himself. Nothing new there, then.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Just when you thought every road trip movie character combination had been used up, along come the Australians with Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp. Dressed as women. In a bus.
Wild at Heart
David Lynch assembled a cast of suitably loony characters for this strange trailer trash road movie. But it’s brilliantly shot, packed with memorable scenes and full of bizarre Wizard of Oz references.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Borat had appeared in Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G Indahouse briefly, but here he got his own feature-length American road trip. Good job he packed his mankini.
Not to be confused with the 1939 western starring Roy Rogers, Jeepers Creepers doles out jumpy moments like Rambo doles out bullets. A gruesome horror not to be watched before driving solo at night.
Dumb and Dumber
Clearly not the smartest film on the list, but if you can keep a straight face as Lloyd and Harry bumble through America in their dog-shaped “shaggin’ wagon”, you need to pull over and have your funny sensor checked.
More big lists from Stuff.tv