I have just returned from a trip up and down the North Island of New Zealand that took in boiling mud pools, volcanoes, holiday traffic, beaches and spectacular scenery. There is something wonderfully liberating about road trips. And if you are lucky enough to have one with no kids squabbling, they rank nearly as highly as hiking for letting the mind wander. With their combination of scenery, adventure, friends-new or old, and quests- for freedom or other, road trips are perfect for movies. Some of my favourites are…in no particular order:
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. 1994. The brilliantly cast Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, play a transsexual and two drag queens crossing the Australian outback to play Cabaret gigs.
Good bye Pork Pie. 1981. This New Zealand low-budget classic follows Gerry, John and hitch hiker Shirl, as they travel from Kaitaia, at the top of New Zealand down to Invercargill in a yellow mini to find John’s wife, with the police in pursuit.
Motorcycle Diaries. 2004. Follows 23 year old Argentinian medical student Ernesto Che Guevara and biochemist friend Alberto Granado on a bike trip through South America in the 1950s. Exposed to the poverty of the indigenous people, the trip shaped Che’s belief in revolution as the only way to achieve social equality.
Sideways, 2004. Director Alexander Payne pulls off what so few directors of movies based on books manage – to translate the story beautifully onto the screen. Sideways, based on Rex Pickett’s 2004 novel, takes an amusing but moving look at male mid life crisis. Miles (Paul Giamatti), an unsuccessful novelist, and Jack (Thomas Haden Church), an unsuccessful actor, travel California’s wine country on a wine tasting odyssey in the week before Jack’s wedding.
Lord of the Rings. First of the trilogy 2001. OK it’s not a traditional road trip, but it has the friends, adventure, mixed modes of transport, a mission and is one epic journey!
Easy Rider. 1969. A young Jack Nicholson joins two motorcyclists Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, across the US ‘in search of America’. Hopper directed the movie, which explores the anti establishment culture of the 60s, drugs, the red neck attitudes of towns they pass through – and some stunning US scenery.
Little Miss Sunshine. 2006. An entertaining look at a dysfunctional family traveling though the US in a VW combi to enter their young daughter in a beauty pageant.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. 1987. Caught in a snowstorm, a highly strung Steve Martin struggles to get home for Thanksgiving and gets unwillingly stuck with fellow traveler John Candy.
Thelma and Louise. 1991. Susan Sarandon and Gena Davis are brilliant as two women escaping their lives and the law. One of only a few road movies where women play leading roles. In fact what are the others?