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Monday, December 06, 2021

10 road trip movies to watch during spring break

Spring break is great because you can do a lot of great things during spring break:

  1. Break up with significant other
  2. Get back with significant other
  3. Spend time with high school friends
  4. Ignore high school friends
  5. Spend time with family
  6. Ignore family
  7. Sit alone watching Netflix, wondering if you should spend time with your high school friends or family, or maybe get back with your significant other
  8. Go on a road trip
  9. Complain about how short spring break is

Everyone knows that option #8 is the best option. But if you can’t go on a road trip, everyone also knows that watching movies about road trips is the second-best option.

The Road Trip Movie (RTM) is the best movie genre for a few reasons. First is that road trip movies are versatile: They can be silly or dry comedies, solemn or bittersweet dramas or somewhere in between. Second is that RTM’s are the perfect vehicle (heh) for characters to engage in some hijinks or make some mistakes while learning some lessons along the way. Hijinks and mistakes and learning lessons are all great features of movies, so this is a plus. Third is that RTM’s have a broad scope: They can be romances, time travel movies, westerns or anything where the characters are basically travelling from Point A to Point B.

Now that we’ve established the superiority of RTM’s, here’s a handy daily schedule of the RTM’s you should watch over break.

Friday: ‘Little Miss Sunshine’

“Little Miss Sunshine,” about a dysfunctional family’s mission to get their daughter to a child beauty pageant, has all the best features of the RTM: It’s hilarious, deeply painful and ultimately heartwarming. It’s the quintessential RTM, which is why it’s the perfect place to start.

Saturday: ‘Zombieland’

It’s the first Saturday of break! You deserve to have fun! No RTM is more fun, or more rewatchable, than “Zombieland,” the saga of four strangers bonding as they seek refuge from a zombie-infested America. I live for Woody Harrelson’s cackle, and Jesse Eisenberg is at the height of his nervous-neurotic-charming powers. Be warned, this one’s gory.

Sunday: ‘Children of Men’

Well, shit. The first weekend of break is already over, so wallow in that sadness with this gloomy film. The year is 2027 and, in a world where every woman has become infertile, an underground activist tries to transport an inconspicuously pregnant woman to safety. As much a religious parable as an RTM, this movie is grim, optimistic and totally unique.

Monday: ‘Duel’

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Let’s take a step back from these modern RTM’s and bask in the genre’s roots. This 1971 TV-movie was one of Steven Spielberg’s first, and one of his most undervalued. It’s about a man being terrorized on the highway by some kind of demon trucker, which is how I basically see all trucks when I’m driving on the highway, so this one is highly relatable.

Tuesday: ‘Into The Wild’

It’s the midway point of break, so let’s get reflective. This biographical epic follows Christopher McCandless, who leaves his family and responsibilities behind to trek into the Alaskan wilderness. This one covers everything from societal conformity to loneliness, but never feels preachy or pretentious. The book of the same name is equally inspired, and it’s different enough from the movie that you can enjoy both.

Wednesday: ‘Locke’

“Locke” adds a twist to the classic RTM: Instead of using the road trip as a way for the characters to explore the world, this one transpires entirely inside the car. Locke, played by Tom Hardy, is the title character and the only actor to appear on screen as he makes a series of phone calls during a late-night trip. It sounds mundane, but it’s tense and suspenseful.

Thursday: ‘The African Queen’

For Throwback Thursday, we’ll take it back to this 1951 classic, which centers on a boat trip featuring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Technically, this isn’t an RTM because there are no roads, but whatever. Take this opportunity to marvel at the comic dexterity of the less-heralded Hepburn.

Friday: ‘Y Tu Mamá También’

This Spanish-language RTM follows two teenage boys and an older woman as they travel across Mexico. You know it’s a great RTM because of how many life lessons they learn: According to IMDb, the boys “learn a thing or two about life, friendship, sex, and each other.” It’s a gorgeous, moving film, and has one of the most affecting endings I’ve ever seen.

Saturday: ‘The Trip’

This 2010 comedy centers on Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, two British comedians playing themselves as they review restaurants across England. Celebrity impressions and hilarious bickering are abound, but the versatility of the RTM is also on display when conversations turn somber. If you like “The Trip,” you’ll want to check out the sequel, “The Trip to Italy,” as well.

Sunday: ‘About Schmidt’

“About Schmidt,” which follows Jack Nicholson’s road trip to his daughter’s wedding, has many of the typical features that make a great RTM: There are deep laughs, profound misery and an abundance of self-discovery. But it’s also an interesting place to end this marathon, because it critiques the very concept of the RTM: Perhaps the lessons and wisdom gained from the trip were within reach the entire time.

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