Having been suffering the post-road trip blues after spending a month traveling the South in a car, I decided to revisit some of my old favorite films in the genre.
There is a mystique about an American road trip, and rightly so, the United States is so vast, diverse in its landscapes and culture, and so accessible, that it makes roadtripping easy and endlessly interesting.
Cheap gas, a surplus of motels, hotels, and Airbnb rooms make a road trip affordable and convenient.
A road trip is also the perfect embodiment of the old American Spirit: rebellious, free, inquisitive, and wild (its too bad we’ve strayed so far from those admirable traits).
While working on my next book, I’m trying to keep the above sentiment burning so it shines through in my words, the following movies have provided kindling.
Here is a list of my favorite road trip films.
Easy Rider (1969, Dennis Hopper)
My favorite road movie of all time. This film is a time capsule for the late 1960s and captures the essence of the time period like nothing else I’ve ever seen.
**I should have been born in that fucking generation, man**
It is wonderfully shot, the soundtrack is incredible, and the story is simple, fascinating, and powerful.
If one of my travel escapades was made into a film, I would want it to be directed like this.
The attitude of the characters played by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda embody exactly what I stand for on my journey through life.
Some choice quotes:
You do your own thing in your own time. You should be proud.
Its tough to be your own man in a society that does everything to make you conform.
Billy: Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.
George Hanson: Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell is wrong with freedom? That’s what it’s all about.
George Hanson: Oh, yeah, that’s right. That’s what’s it’s all about, all right. But talkin’ about it and bein’ it, that’s two different things. I mean, it’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don’t ever tell anybody that they’re not free, ’cause then they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they’re gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em.
Billy: Well, it don’t make ’em runnin’ scared.
George Hanson: No, it makes ’em dangerous.
I have to keep my mouth in check more than most realize. Some people hate it when they see the life I’ve worked so hard to build in order to live how I want–take this blog for example–there are losers who read it and get absolutely livid at the content.
Easy Rider is stuffed full of symbolism: money literally fueling Americas gas tank, what it means to be free, if drugs can be a cure for the confusion of life, Christian and Pagan influences, the consequences of sexual desire, and much more.
I highly recommend you watch this one and pay close attention to details.
Wild at Heart (1990)
Sex plays a large role in most of Lynch’s work, and Wild at Heart is the most sexualized of them all.
Nicolas Cage is fantastic and unhinged as ever as Sailor in this modern Shakespearean story.
It has some of the best dialogue in a Lynch film and some unforgettable quotes:
“This is a snakeskin jacket! And for me it’s a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom.”
“He liked skinny women with breasts that stood up and said “Hello”
“And I swear, baby, you got the sweetest cock. It’s like it’s talking to me when you’re inside.”
“Man, I had a boner with a capital ‘O’.”
“She turns over, peels off them orange pants, spreads her legs real wide and says to me”Take a bite of Peach.”
“Ya know, I sure do like a girl with nice tits like yours who talks tough and looks like she can fuck like a bunny. Do you fuck like that? Cause if ya do, I’ll fuck ya good. Like a big ol’ jackrabbit bunny, jump all around that hole. Bobby Peru don’t come up for air.”
Wild at Heart is fun, exciting, and a must-watch for any film buff.
Dumb and Dumber (1994, The Farrelly Brothers)
A good comedy is supposed to make you laugh–I haven’t laughed more throughout any movie more than this one.
There comes a time when you should turn off your intellect and let yourself get loose, Dumb and Dumber is the perfect opportunity.
The plot is minimal, the story is weak, but that makes the endless one-liners and sight gags even easier to enjoy.
No matter what you think of him, Jim Carrey is a true original, and this is him at his peak. Jeff Daniels is a great actor, and the toilet scene in Dumb and Dumber might be his finest work.
The soundtrack in the movie is great, and each song highlights the scene with impeccable timing.
If you can’t enjoy this gem of an 80s pop song that plays during a key moment in the film, you probably won’t like the movie:
Let yourself get dumb and watch this one.
The Straight Story (1999, David Lynch)
This movie starts out slow, but you should bear with it for the rewards.
It is based on a true story about Alvin, a 73 year old man who drives a lawn mover over 300 miles through Iowa and Wisconsin to visit his brother.
One of the best thing about taking a road trip is meeting new people and experiencing the kindness of strangers.
The Straight Story captures that spirit perfectly.
Alvin has the benefit of being an old man who has been through as much pain as life can deliver and everyone he encounters can sense this–so they let their guards down and open up.
He has the gift of wisdom combined with the power of pure observation and the way David Lynch directs the film showcases this perfectly.
There is not much else to say about the story because it is so simple, but I can promise you it makes an impact.
The movie is rated G and I would recommend seeing it with family, especially with grandparents.
*And feel free to leave any feedback or suggestions in the comments.