There’s something about a road trip movie that connects with almost everyone on some level. Maybe it’s the ‘quest’ style storyline that traces back to humanity’s oldest known tales. Or just the sense of adventure that is evoked by the freedom of the open road. Whatever the case, these RV-centric capers have captured the imaginations of millions over the years:
1. The Long, Long Trailer (1953)
This film marks the beginning of America’s love affair with the RV road trip film. Starring the leads of classic TV show I Love Lucy, it tracks a newlywed couple who decide to buy an RV and travel around the country to save money. Of course, nothing goes as smoothly as planned and comedic chaos soon ensues. While studio bosses were initially skeptical about the commercial value of the film, it ended up becoming the highest grossing comedy of its time.
2. Lost in America (1985)
It’s the same “couple decides to travel America” premise as No. 1, but at heart the two films couldn’t be more different. Lost in America is a cynical send up of the 1980’s rising yuppie culture, featuring a husband and wife who decided to sell up everything and adopt the nomadic lifestyle, “like in Easy Rider”. It’s still a comedy, but one with a sharp, sardonic edge that pulls no punches when it comes to calling out the foibles of career focused young professionals.
3. Spaceballs (1987)
Okay, Spaceballs technically features an RV spaceship… but close enough, right? Mel Brooks’ sci-fi parody spoofs not only Star Wars but a bunch of other genre classics like Alien, Star Trek and Planet of the Apes. Perhaps surprisingly, Star Wars creator George Lucas is a huge Spaceballs fan, sending Brooks a note to say he loved the film and that he “was afraid [he] would bust something from laughing.” If that’s not a 5 star recommendation, I don’t know what is.
4. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Quentin Tarantino’s notoriously divisive movie of two halves isn’t often remembered as a road trip film, possibly because of the now infamous film-changing twist in the middle of the movie that overshadows everything else. Without giving too much away (sure, it’s almost two decades old now but many still haven’t seen it), it skews quickly from a classic ‘criminals on the run’ story into something a lot… weirder. It only enjoyed modest success at the box office but has since gathered a dedicated cult following.
5. About Schmidt (2002)
One of Jack Nicholson’s finest roles in the last 20 years, About Schmidt is a poignantly funny portrayal of a man who finally decides to start living now that his life is almost over. Schmidt embarks on a road trip from Nebraska to Colorado, to stop his daughter from marrying someone who he believes isn’t good enough for her - but like any great road movie, the best bits are in the journey, not the destination. Nicholson picked up an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe for his performance, and the film was a huge hit with both audiences and critics.
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