The Open Road: The Top 10 Greatest Road Trip Movies of all Time

The Open Road, starring Jeff Bridges and Justin Timberlake, is out on DVD on 25th April 2011. This charming film about a father and son on a journey got us thinking about our favourite road movies of all time, and here are our top 10:

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

This Spanish-language classic tells the tale of the young Ernesto “Fuser” Guevara and his friend Alberto Granada as they set off on a South American road trip to remember. Based on Guevara’s travelogue, the poverty and exploitation he witnesses helps transform “Fuser” into the revolutionary we now know as “Che”. Brilliant chemistry between Gael Garcia Bernal as Guevara and Rodrigo de la Serna as his best friends make this an enduringly lovely road trip movie that’s less about politics and a bit more about motorcycles. Note: If you read the early part of Che’s diaries, it has a lot of entries along the lines of “got drunk. Fell out of tree”.

The Hitcher (1986)

Rutger Hauer’s sadistic turn as the hitcher with a penchant for torture and murder will make you think twice before giving a lonesome stranger a lift on a deserted highway. The ensuing cat and mouse chase through the desert is fraught with tension, and the fact that the hitcher subjects his victims to such horrors for no discernible reason makes it all the more unsettling. This is a road movie that will stay with you long after the credits roll. For this, and for Bladerunner, Rutger Hauer is a Man-God.

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro set off on a road trip to Vegas with a car boot full of mescaline, cocaine, LSD, grass and “a whole galaxy of multi-coloured uppers downers, screamers, laughers..” not too mention the rum, tequila and raw ether. Based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a frenetic trip through the warped mind of the original Gonzo journalist. Johnny Depp is engagingly bendy.

Easy Rider (1969)

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper star are as Wyatt and Billy; two hippies travelling on motorcycle from California to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Along the way, they pick up likeable drunk George (Jack Nicholson) and experience love, hatred, tragedy and a helluva lot of drugs in their search for freedom. Easy Rider is a counter-culture classic that many believe kick-started the New Hollywood phase in the late 60s and early 70s. Stripped-down hogs? Boys and their lovely, lovely toys.

Thelma & Louise (1991)

Much more than the movie that introduced the world to Brad Pitt’s torso, this story of two women on the run after murdering a would-be rapist won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Stars Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon were nominated for best actress and give performances that will have you rooting for the girls from the get-go. At time hilarious and deeply moving, Thelma & Louise also boasts one of the most iconic endings of any movie, road-based or otherwise. Although it’s hard to remember which one’s Thelma and which one’s Louise.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Another Best Original Screenplay winner, Little Miss Sunshine was the surprise debut hit from first time directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and first-time screewnwriter Michael Arndt. A family hanging together by the flimsiest of threads embark on a cross-country road trip so daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) can participate in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Chock full of weird and wonderful characters – from the heroin-bothering granddad and the son on a vow of silence to the suicidal scholastic uncle – Little Miss Sunshine is a delightful road movie with a heart of gold.

Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies (2004)

A guilty favourite of the author, Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies is a stoner comedy during which our eponymous heroes take off on a road trip in search of the perfect burger (White Castle is a chain of fastfood restaurants in the US) – after an evening on the marijuana. The fact that the two leads are played by a Korean-American and Indian-American was something of a breakthrough at the time, and their likable personas and obvious chemistry makes for a superior goofball comedy. TV’s Doogie Howser (a pre- How I Met Your Mother Neil Patrick Harris) nearly steals the show with a hilarious cameo as himself.

Sideways (2004)

Sideways follows two forty-something year old men who take a road trip to experience the finest wines in Santa Barabara. It’s a stag do with a difference as failed writer Miles (Paul Giamatti) takes his best mate and successful actor Jack (Thomas Haden Church) for a week’s wine tasting in the mountains. The enduring legacy of Sideways could be best noted in the impact on the sales of Merlot post-releases: Miles’ disdain for the variety has been blamed for a 2% drop in sales in the US and UK.

Mad Max (1979)

A cowboy movie set in the future, Mad Max brought Mel Gibson to the attention of Hollywood. In a hellish, dystopian view of the future Gibson stars as Max Rockatansky, a police officer who is driven to unleash his own fiery justice when his wife and child are brutally slain by a gang of Outlaws. One of the few Mad Max films it’s still possible to watch without thinking ‘bigot’.

Duel (1971)

Steven Spielberg’s first feature film, this unnerving cat and mouse thriller follows a terrified motorist who is being chased and stalked by a tanker truck and its unseen, psychotic driver. With the truck driver’s motivations hidden from the audience, the audience is left as tense and bewildered as the poor victim. BRILL-I-ANT.

The Open Road, starring Jeff Bridges and Justin Timberlake, is out on DVD on 25th April 2011.

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