5 Road Movies That Will Make You Forget It’s Still Winter
The allure of the road has always been too tantalizing for Hollywood to resist. Channeling the likes of Homer has become second nature for screenwriters looking for a way to send their characters on a good old-fashioned journey, which means there are plenty of choices out there for movie fans looking for some vicarious road trip shenanigans to indulge in. I don’t know about you, but the closer we get to summer the more I begin to crave road movies with their travel mishaps, awesome soundtracks and dusty landscapes. Popping one into the DVD player is the best way to stave off wanderlust when you’re stuck inside on a dreary February day, and lucky for you, I’ve picked out five movies that are more than up to the task of distracting you from your winter doldrums.
If the yellow Volkswagen van doesn’t make you smile, tiny Abigail Breslin in her over-sized glasses definitely will. Little Miss Sunshine, the scrappy underdog tale of a family who needs a win so desperately they’re willing to (reluctantly) pile into a rundown old van for a weekend just to get their youngest family member to a beauty pageant, is teaming with sharp dialogue, gorgeous scenery and real sweetness. It also has Steve Carell, who is the ketchup of actors– liberal application of him makes everything better and when he’s added to a movie that is already good, it just bumps it up to greatness. Add in a score by DeVotchKa and plenty of ill-timed car troubles and you have the recipe for the perfect road movie.
Charlene Yi’s documentary/romantic comedy hybrid chronicles her journey across America to find out if true love actually exists. The movie combines a fictional storyline about Yi’s budding relationship with Michael Cera with real interviews about love from people of all ages and walks of life. The genre mixing pays off by lending a sense of authenticity to the romantic element of the film that almost makes you forget Yi and Cera are playing fictionalized versions of themselves, but as charming as the falling in love on the road story is it can’t quite compete with the charming real life characters Yi encounters along the way.
Passenger Side is a movie I can’t seem to shut up about. It tells the story of two brothers, one played by the always wonderful Adam Scott and the other by Joel Bissonnette, who spend one day driving around Los Angeles in search of one of their exes. From a visual standpoint, it’s pure eye candy. Something about the combination of the almost too cool for its own good soundtrack with the natural aesthetic of LA gives the simple story of brother bonding an almost mythic quality. However, it’s the script that has had me recommending this movie nonstop for months now. Writer Matt Bissonnette has a gift for producing the banter-heavy dialogue most closely associated with the screwball films of yore, and he wisely picked two actors (one of which happens to be his real life brother) who are talented enough to make it seem both natural and effortless. The film is the perfect storm of road trip movie tropes and talent, but more than that, it’s simply a pleasure to watch.
Two women escape their less than stellar lives by hitting the road, going on the run and meeting a young Brad Pitt who knows how to work a cowboy hat-there’s a reason why Thelma & Louise has already earned the right to be called a classic and that reason is because it’s awesome. Sure, the ending is a downer, but the female empowerment theme and moving performances by Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are worth the inevitable deluge of tears. Besides, even if it’s sad, you have to admit the Grand Canyon looks amazing in that final shot.
Sideways is thematically similar to Thelma & Louise, but tonally the films are polar opposites: it’s a story about two men trying to escape their less than stellar lives by touring wine country and hooking up with Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen. Sadly, Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church don’t hold hands in the end, but there are enough comical mishaps along the way to make up for it, including Church’s character getting a broken nose and then purposely crashing the car to have a reasonable explanation to give to his fiancé. Male mid-life crises don’t get much more entertaining than that.
All right, those are a few of my favorites, but I know I left plenty of wonderful road movies out (I can hear you all screaming Easy Rider from here). Which road movies are on your favorites list?
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