Friday, July 18, 2008

Road Trip Movies

In an effort to move to over 2000 miles across the country my wife, new baby girl, and I drove across the United States, which gave us the chance to drive through eight different states in three days (with the much appreciated assistance of my wife's grandfather).

I am not one who is afraid of taking a road trip. In fact, given enough time, I enjoy the opportunity of riding in a car for a long, but stressless amount of time.

In the midst of some of the new adventures of my life, Adam has been filling in guest blogging here at StrangeCulture. One of his post was about the American Road Trip.

His post last month got me thinking about road trips and whether or not they have a future extinction. Obviously this past week, airline companies have shown their own weakness and their prices appear like they will be on the rise, but with high gas prices, and an weak economy the cost of loading up a vehicle and filling it with gas every 300 miles down the road might be a little too costly and time consumptive for the efficient modern American family.

Adam mentioned Steinbeck's novel Travels with Charlie, as well as movies like Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run.

For some reason when I read Adam's post, I also thought of the movie It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World -- talk about a road adventure, and the original Amazing Race.

And, whether or not the road trip is dying off or not, I think that the road trip movie certainly has shown some great strength in the past couple of years. Specifically, I think about Pixar's Cars, Sideways, and Little Miss Sunshine.

In these three movies recent road trip movies, it seems that there is a consistent message and value of the road. On the road being removed from one's traditional environment, mixed with the element of time has the powerful ability to bring about transformation and interconnectivity.

I think there's something powerful about the road, and even though a movie like cars pays homage to Route 66 and the thrill that was lost to the speed of the Interstate, there has to be some sentimentality towards losing even a day of Interstate driving to the hustle and bustle of International Airports.

Are "airport movies" nearly as interesting as road movies? Do characters lives change in the air as much as they do on the road? How can they when a movie is far more likely to have an airplane scene, as opposed to an airplane setting that last a large duration of the film (unless of course you're talking about the Aviator, but that obviously is a genre exception, and that transformation was just plain weird.)

I love the road, and I think generally the road trip movie has a lot of potential, because it offers such a catalyst for change to occur in a relatively short amount of time.

And as I write my brain is flooded with road trip themed movies, everything from The Straight Story, to Into the Wild, and Rain Man.

The most famous epic story The Odyssey was in it's own way a road trip story. And people are still telling Road Trip stories.

What's your favorite road trip movie? Is the road trip or the road trip movie going to disappear?


Yih said...

Oh, the road trip movie is alive and well. In fact, it's passing on to the next generation as last night, I found myself watching the silly-teen-coming-of-age movie, "Road Trip."

As for the actual road trip, the gas prices have kinda put that idea on hold for now.

kat said...

There are many road trip movies that I like: "Thelma & Louise" "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", "Vacation"

Will said...

You know, an interesting version of the road trip movie is Into the Wild. Loved it.

But then again, I tend to love road trip movies that try, anyway.

James (SeattleDad) said...

I love Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and Vacation too! Another favorite would have to be Sideways. Drawing blanks on others right now, but great post.

Michael Parsons said...

Thelma and Louise.

But does that count as a road trip movie or a crime spree?

Dresden Lady said...

I'll age myself here. "The Long, Long Trailer" with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.