Ten more great road movies from 1980-2010
While we don't have Metascores available for many older films, that doesn't mean that there aren't classics among these movies. Below are ten additional must-see examples of the road movie genre, listed in alphabetical order.
The Blues Brothers (1980) Add to Netflix Queue
Itinerary: Two brothers drive throughout Illinois to get their band back together so they can hold a concert to raise $5,000 to pay off the taxes owed by their childhood home, a Roman Catholic orphanage.
They are on a mission from God, and even though the mission never takes them out of Illinois, the Blues Brothers are on the road enough for us to include it on our list. Driving around in an old but unstoppable police car, Jake and Elwood track down their former band members, thwart the Illinois Nazis, destroy a shopping mall, swindle the Good Ol' Boys, and promote their show, but it's the final race from the Palace Hotel Ballroom (106 miles north of Chicago) to Chicago City Hall that puts this film on the list.
The Cannonball Run (1981) Add to Netflix Queue
Itinerary: A variety of wacky characters take part in a cross-country road race from Connecticut to Southern California.
Based on an actual race and with a cast that includes Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, Roger Moore, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Jackie Chan (to name a few), The Cannonball Run is a road movie concerned with little else than driving fast and having a few laughs. While that wasn't enough to satisfy most critics, The Cannonball Run pleased the public and became the sixth highest-grossing film of 1981. We cannot fail to mention director Hal Needham, who gave us another classic road movie, 1977's Smokey and the Bandit.
Fandango (1985) Add to Netflix Queue
Itinerary: In 1971, five college buddies from the University of Texas take one last road trip south of the border.
As in many road movies, the five college friends in Fandango are trying to escape the circumstances of their life -- in this case marriage and the Vietnam War -- but what makes Kevin Reynolds' debut feature memorable is his ability to highlight both the humor and heart of male friendship. He is aided by strong performances from Kevin Costner and Judd Nelson in their first major roles. Reynolds would team up with Costner again in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Waterworld, but don't hold that against Fandango.
Lost in America (1985) Add to Netflix Queue
Itinerary: A husband and wife decide to quit their jobs, buy an RV and set off from Los Angeles to explore America.
If there’s one thing you need while you’re out on the road trying to find yourself, it’s money, at least if you’re used to having it, and David and Linda Howard are. So when Linda loses all their money playing roulette, what is an ex-ad-man supposed to do? Well, if Albert Brooks is writing, directing and starring in the film, he tries to convince the casino owner to give the money back, of course. How do you think that works out?
National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) Add to Netflix Queue
Itinerary: A family packs into the Wagon Queen Family Truckster to travel from Chicago to Walley World, America's Favorite Family Fun Park.
National Lampoon's Vacation and the Griswolds have become synonymous with family vacations from hell. Whether the problem is taking the wrong freeway exit, falling asleep at the wheel, being forced to pick up an annoying aunt, killing the annoying aunt's dog, jumping a station wagon 50 yards in the middle of Monument Valley, or forcing a security guard to take you on amusement park rides at gunpoint, Vacation has them all, plus Christie Brinkley in a red Ferrari.
Paris, Texas (1984) Add to Netflix Queue
Itinerary: A man, missing for four years and with no knowledge of who he is, pieces his life back together on the roads between Texas and Los Angeles with the aid of his brother and estranged son.
1984 was a good year for road movies at the Cannes Film Festival. The same year that Jim Jarmusch won for Stranger Than Paradise, Wim Wenders won the Palm d'Or for Paris, Texas, which stars Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell. That both films won is only a coincidence, but it's fitting considering Wenders gave Jarmusch film stock so he could shoot the short that would later become Stranger Than Paradise.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) Add to Netflix Queue
Itinerary: An ad exec and a shower curtain ring salesman try to get from New York to Chicago by Thanksgiving without killing each other.
Much like the Griswolds in National Lampoon's Vacation, which John Hughes also wrote, Steve Martin's Neal Page and John Candy's Del Griffith experience one problem after another while traveling. If it can go wrong, it does go wrong for Neal and Del, but as their troubles increase, their animosity decreases, leading to a heartfelt ending perfect for this holiday road comedy classic.
Starman (1984) Add to Netflix Queue
Itinerary: A woman and an alien who resembles her dead husband set off on a trip from Wisconsin to Arizona.
With Starman, John Carpenter moved away from the horror genre to give viewers a love story between a widower played by Karen Allen and an alien played by Jeff Bridges (in an Oscar-nominated performance). As they make their way to the Barringer Crater, they visit many of the conventional American road movie sites - a roadside diner, Monument Valley, Las Vegas - but it's Bridges' commitment to the alien's increasingly human behavior and Allen's change from suspicion to trust that makes the film a success.
Stranger Than Paradise (1984) Add to Netflix Queue
Itinerary: A New York 'hipster' and his friend travel to Cleveland and pick up his Hungarian emigré cousin before they all make their way to Florida.
Comprised of a series of single-take vignettes followed by a fade to black then a fade in, Jim Jarmusch's influential 1984 Camera d'Or winner Stranger Than Paradise established the director as a singular voice in American independent film. Combining bleak black-and-white photography (courtesy of future indie filmmaker Tom DiCillo) with deadpan humor and an off-kilter rhythm, Jarmusch captured the future indie sensibility before it even existed.
The Sure Thing (1985) Add to Netflix Queue
Itinerary: A college freshman travels from New England to Los Angeles over Christmas break in hopes of bedding a "sure thing."
In Rob Reiner's comedy, Walter 'Gib' Gibson (John Cusack) and Alison Bradbury (Daphne Zuniga) are opposites. He's always running late; she has her day planned out in 15-minute increments. But this is a romantic comedy, after all, so these two have to come together in some way, right? Well, sure, and like many movies on our list, the road provides the way.
Detour: a few road movies to avoid
Not every road movie is a winner. Below are 10 trips not worth taking, if the critics are correct in their assessments. (By the looks of things, they are.)
|2||All About Steve||2009||17||3.6|
|4||Are We There Yet?||2005||27||2.9|
|6||Even Cowgirls Get the Blues||1994||27||n/a|
|9||Johnson Family Vacation||2004||29||3.8|
What do you think?
What are your favorite and least favorite road movies? Are you looking forward to Due Date? Let us know in the discussion section below.