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25 Essential Road Trip Movies of the Last 25 Years

We’re looking down the horizon and beyond for some of the best road trip movies that defined the genre over the last 25 years! To rev up this list, we selected American movies movies, journeys that begin in the States (where they actually finish is part of the fun). The movies celebrate the sights and sounds of the country, or at least will inspire you to pull out that camping gear, putting the convertible top down, and hitting the open road. These rides can be cross-county ( Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle ), on the freeway ( Dog , Sideways ), trekking across a few state lines ( Little Miss Sunshine , Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ), hitting a new time zone ( Road Trip ), or even runnin’ coast-to-coast ( Rat Race , Transamerica ). Even the Academy has felt the need for reasonable speed, awarding Best Picture to both Green Book and Nomadland . Carpool lane? Of course: we’ve got an Oscar strapped in the passenger seat!

So whether you’re looking for a map to a long summer drive or fixing a flat in your life, turn to these essential 25 road trip movies of the last 25 years (in chronological order)!

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) 50%

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The Straight Story (1999) 94%

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Tumbleweeds (1999) 82%

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Almost Famous (2000) 91%

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Road Trip (2000) 57%

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Rat Race (2001) 45%

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Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) 75%

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Sideways (2004) 97%

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Transamerica (2005) 77%

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Little Miss Sunshine (2006) 91%

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Cars (2006) 75%

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Zombieland (2009) 89%

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Away We Go (2009) 67%

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Paul (2011) 70%

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We're the Millers (2013) 48%

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Chef (2014) 87%

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Grandma (2015) 91%

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Mississippi Grind (2015) 91%

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Pee-wee's Big Holiday (2016) 83%

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Green Book (2018) 77%

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Nomadland (2020) 93%

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The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021) 97%

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Bad Trip (2021) 79%

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Dog (2022) 77%

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Joy Ride (2023) 90%

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27 Road Trip Movies Every Traveler Needs To Watch

Steve Carell wide-eyed

The road is one of the most enduring images in film history because it can be used for so many different purposes. It can mean the freedom of adventure, or adventure's inevitable dead-end. Road trips can result in meeting interesting new characters, or they can be the worst kind of isolation or even the worst kind of forced bonding. Filmmakers from all over the world are continually drawn to the road movie and specifically the road trip movie, where a simple car or bus ride can become something much more meaningful. It offers plenty of opportunity for unexpected change, and it often does so in front of beautiful, overwhelming landscapes. They'll never stop making movies about road trips because people will never stop taking them, always wanting to see the sights and maybe become a little wiser in the process.

The 27 films in this list all take their own approaches to portraying the road trip cinematically, emphasizing its best and worst tendencies and playing them for both comedy and drama. But even the worst trips taken here offer something to appreciate, sometimes deep thought about the meaning of the road and sometimes a laugh at the expense of the poor fools stuck in the car.

1. Easy Rider

One of the most iconic road trips in cinematic history was taken by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in Hopper's 1969 classic "Easy Rider." The legendary image of Fonda and Hopper riding their motorcycles while Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild" plays remains people's main association with "Easy Rider." But the movie itself is more complicated than just the thrill of riding down wide-open roads. The tagline tells of a man who went looking for America and "couldn't find it anywhere," and that's a good summation of the cynical eye this takes toward the country it explores.

Fonda and Hopper encounter some friendly people in their travels, most famously Jack Nicholson in his breakout role as a drunken lawyer. They encounter just as much resistance as they do support, from people with no tolerance for their countercultural attitudes and long hair. In one scene, Nicholson tells Hopper that people are scared of him because "what you represent to them is freedom," and the film's bleak ending offers little hope that freedom can be maintained in the face of such strong opposition. But the power of the film's images of freedom and joy is still enough to keep this as one of the beloved road movies.

2. Lost in America

Despite its cynicism, "Easy Rider" inspired many Americans to go out on the road themselves, even ones who couldn't be further away from Fonda and Hopper's biker lifestyle. This is the subject of writer, director, and actor Albert Brooks's 1985 film "Lost in America," in which a middle-class yuppie couple (Brooks and Julie Hagerty) hits the road and quickly realizes they can't handle it. By the end of the trip, they've destroyed their lives and their savings, and they've rid themselves of any romantic notions about traveling America without a plan.

Brooks' directorial work is defined by bitterness and discomfort as much as by laughs, and "Lost in America" can be particularly caustic. Brooks and Hagerty sink to some miserable depths during the course of their trip, reduced to begging for the money they just lost gambling or treating each other with naked hostility. A trip to the Hoover Dam doesn't offer scenery, instead serving as a backdrop to the couple's most vicious fight. "Lost in America" is a satire of the waste and excess of the American '80s, but it's also a reminder to make sure you've carefully thought through your road trip before you embark on one. Some people aren't ready for the road, and Brooks and Hagerty learn that too late.

3. The Color Wheel

Getting stuck with someone annoying on a long road trip can be a miserable experience, so spending the entirety of the 2011 comedy "The Color Wheel" with two annoying people on a road trip can make it a tough sell. But the film's writer-director, Alex Ross Perry, has an uncommon talent for writing people who only seem to be awful and irritating so that they're both funnier and more tragic than they would be in real life. That skill serves him especially well for the two leads of "The Color Wheel," an obnoxious brother and sister (played by Perry and Carlen Altman) whose road trip through New England leads them to meet strangers and old friends who are all even more awful than they are. The scenery offers little comfort when every scene becomes a passive-aggressive argument.

"The Color Wheel" is above all else a comedy, happy to laugh at its main characters for their abysmal social skills and undisguised contempt for each other and everyone around them. But as the trip goes on and they keep meeting hostile exes and classmates, their situation starts to seem a little sad, like they've been molded into hateful jerks by the whole world around them. Their final attempt to escape the cycle of anger and venom is shocking, but it's also unexpectedly tender, because Perry respects his characters even as they embarrass themselves.

Even the awful road trip of "The Color Wheel" can't compare to the nightmare trip taken by the title character of "Zola," and hers really happened. "Zola" was adapted from the famous Twitter thread detailing a disastrous trip to Florida taken by a part-time stripper (Taylour Paige) and a woman she just met (Riley Keough). There's not much time to enjoy Florida on this trip, the scenery consists of strip malls and different men's hotel rooms, and the business Zola has been dragged into quickly spirals into exploitation and violence.

"Zola" is about very bad events in a woman's life, but like the Twitter thread, it believes those events to be hilarious above anything else. The band of fools Zola winds up with can seem dangerous, particularly Colman Domingo's ambiguously accented pimp, but mostly they're all bluster and no brains. When they encounter people who are actually dangerous, they escape by the skin of their teeth. There's tension but never fear in "Zola," and that helps to make it a wonderful comedy even once the blood starts getting shed.

5. American Honey

"Zola" isn't the only movie where Riley Keough is a uniquely awful road trip presence. There's also the 2016 drama "American Honey", where Keough enlists a young girl played by Sasha Lane into a crew of door-to-door magazine salespeople. They travel blissfully across the Midwest, and Lane falls in love with a member of the crew, played by Shia LaBeouf. But their peaceful, off-the-grid existence is threatened by Keough and the precarity of their jobs.

A common thread across many of the great American road movies is that they're not directed by Americans, with international directors often looking at American landscapes in a different way than their American counterparts who've grown up with them. English director Andrea Arnold joins that group of directors with how she films America here, pushing the colors of the landscapes to such extremes that the emotions associated with them are also heightened, whether they be romance or danger. Her beautiful imagery is accentuated by her pulsing soundtrack, which switches between big-name pop hits and obscurities that perfectly match the mood of youthful excitement and negligence that defines "American Honey."

6. Stranger Than Paradise

While road trips can be fun and exciting, they can also be tedious, especially when there's not much scenery to look at. Writer-director Jim Jarmusch expertly captured the boredom of a bad road trip in his 1984 breakthrough "Stranger Than Paradise," in which the three leads take off in search of new experiences and don't find them anywhere they look.

Two of the leads are Hungarian émigrés hoping to find more from America than they did from their home. But the America portrayed in "Stranger Than Paradise" is just the most unremarkable areas of New York, Ohio, and Florida, presented so that the camera is just as unimpressed by them as the characters are. And only the most monotonous aspects of the road trip are shown, like driving through the endless expanse of Pennsylvania or arguing about who has to sleep on the cot when they get to a motel. Despite its tedium, "Stranger Than Paradise" is a very funny study of how the myths of the road can collapse in the face of the realities of going out on the road.

7. Badlands

Not all road trips start from good intentions. The one undertaken by Kit (Martin Sheen) and Holly (Sissy Spacek) in 1973's Bonnie and Clyde story "Badlands" starts after Kit murders Holly's father and burns down their house. That's where the journey begins, and eventually Kit is responsible for much more than one murder. But there's still an innocence to young Kit and Holly's trip, where they create their own society out in the wilderness and encounter all kinds of gorgeous nature. "Badlands," writes Sheila O'Malley for Criterion , is based on the 1958 murder spree of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, but its power doesn't come from its killings so much as its troubling naivete, where the blinkered teenage attitudes of its protagonists and the pastoral beauty of their surroundings say nothing about the horrible violence occurring right in front of them.

"Badlands" was the debut of writer-director Terrence Malick, who would go on to develop a reputation for his eye for natural landscapes. That's present even this early, shooting trees and sunsets so that they appear magical more than natural. But that magic here comes with a terrible price, and Malick seems as disturbed by nature's non-reaction to the evil committed all around it as he is entranced by its power.

8. My Blueberry Nights

Wong Kar-wai has directed some of the most beloved films of all time in his native Hong Kong, but to date, he's only made one movie in the United States. That was 2007's "My Blueberry Nights," which explores the unique geography of America through a road trip starting in New York and ending in Las Vegas. Wong is renowned for his intensely stylized movies, and "My Blueberry Nights" is no exception. Wong's America is beautiful in a way it isn't in real life — only Wong's oversaturated colors and beautiful golden light could make it look this gorgeous. In this way, Wong captures the feeling of a great road trip, of falling in love with every location you pass. And Wong ties all these stunning locales to his usual themes of heartbreak and melancholy, showing beautiful places inhabited by sad, lonely people.

"My Blueberry Nights" is held back from the levels of Wong's best movies by a weak script and inconsistent performances. Otherwise talented actors like Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz go over the top, while even strong performances from Jude Law and David Strathairn have to go against the bland lead performance from singer and first-time actor Norah Jones. But such flaws don't matter too much in light of how enchanting Wong's vision of the world is. This is the kind of movie that makes people want to keep taking road trips.

9. Alice in the Cities

Few directors are as synonymous with the road and road movies as Wim Wenders, the German director who's made several of the best-loved movies about the road ever made. His most overt takes on the road genre are the three movies that make up his "Road Trilogy," starting with "Alice in the Cities" in 1974. "Alice in the Cities" concerns German writer Philip (Rüdiger Vogler), who follows a disappointing assignment by meeting a woman (Lisa Kreuzer) and her young daughter Alice (Yella Rottländer), then agreeing to go on a trip through Amsterdam. Their trip is marked by complications, boredom, and a lot of music, including a Chuck Berry concert and a jukebox playing Canned Heat. And all the while, Philip and Alice begin to develop a friendship.

"Alice in the Cities" is one of the most lasting Wenders movies, inspiring the work of filmmakers like Allison Anders and Mike Mills, particularly Mills' own adult-and-child road movie "C'mon C'mon." "Alice in the Cities" holds special power for its tale of unexpected companionship, where the road has the magic to bring together people who never would have even met under different circumstances. Even when the sights aren't exciting, getting to experience those sights with someone new can be a rewarding experience.

10. Magic Mike XXL

The success of the male-stripper comedy "Magic Mike" left star Channing Tatum and writer Reid Carolin with the duty of following up a movie that seemed to neatly wrap up at the end. Rather than repeat the first one's formula, Tatum and Carolin decided to go in another direction, turning 2015's "Magic Mike XXL" into an exuberant road trip movie about friends and the joy of performing. "Magic Mike" was an often melancholy movie about the recession, and while there are still economic worries all over "Magic Mike XXL," they mostly take a back seat to just enjoying the chance to escape from them for a few days.

The first film's director, Steven Soderbergh, didn't return to direct "Magic Mike XXL," but he did serve as its cinematographer, and he deserves special credit for how beautiful he makes the film's Southern locations look. Even an ordinary gas station comes to life with Soderbergh's golden light, to say nothing of the beaches and palatial estates Mike and his friends visit on their journey. The beauty of these locations also represents the simple beauty of hanging out with people you love, and this is where "Magic Mike XXL" separates itself from its predecessor. Mike's fellow strippers barely had personalities in the first one, but here they're best friends who love each other's company even as they razz each other. It's a unique pleasure to go on the road with such a tight-knit group.

11. Y tu mamá también

After making 2001's "Y tu mamá también," Alfonso Cuarón stuck to making large-scale spectacles and big-budget blockbusters. But in "Y tu mamá también," Cuarón applies his usual technical excellence to a simple story of a woman and two teenage boys going on a road trip. The Mexican landscapes they drive past are beautifully shot by future Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and their conversations are profane and hilarious, especially as delivered by Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal in their breakthrough roles. But a serious side creeps into "Y tu mamá también" as it goes on, eventually taking it over entirely.

As the three take their trip, they pass by political strife and Mexican culture soon to die out entirely. The characters may only be passing through these areas, but there are people living in the areas whose lives will be very difficult long after the leads are gone. Despite its main characters' immaturity, this is a surprisingly thoughtful road trip movie, understanding that even the most pristine locales are burdened by troubling history. That also turns out to be true about the main characters' dynamics, where the teenage leads eventually realize the depths of sadness and desperation they and their traveling partner carry with them. But before they get to that point, they have a great time, and so does the viewer watching them.

12. My Own Private Idaho

Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho" opens with River Phoenix's character, Mikey Waters, saying that he's traveled so much down so many roads that he can recognize the roads just by sight. His life on the road is a beautiful but lonely one until he finds someone he can briefly share it with, a senator's son, Scott Favor ( Keanu Reeves ). Their journeys across deserted roads and rocky landscapes are sometimes silly but mostly poetic and sad, showing two young men as lost in the scenery as they are in their own lives.

Van Sant makes a lot of odd digressions in "My Own Private Idaho," including a sequence with talking erotic magazines and an entire plot loosely adapted from Shakespeare's "Henry IV" saga, writes Amy Taubin for Criterion . But the heart of the film is the relationship between Mikey and Scott, one where Mikey may be the only one of the two to realize how special and intimate it is. A heartbreaking scene at a campfire sees Mikey get tantalizingly close to professing his love to Scott and not quite doing so. While Mikey may have lived his life by the isolation of the road, he needs Scott to share that life with him, and the film offers little hope that this will happen.

13. The Straight Story

The films and TV of David Lynch are usually filled with the darkness and violence that lurk beneath the beautiful landscapes of America. But Lynch still loves those landscapes and the people who inhabit them, and never is that clearer than his only movie to get a G rating, 1999's "The Straight Story." He tells the story of a real-life road trip, where an elderly, almost blind farmer named Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) drove a lawn mower from Iowa to Wisconsin to see his ailing brother (Harry Dean Stanton).

There's not much dialogue in "The Straight Story," especially for the long stretches where Alvin is on his own out on the road, but it's not necessary when Lynch is working with the wide-open expanses of the midwest. He finds magic in the crop dusters and near-empty roads Alvin encounters, setting the sights to a moving Angelo Badalamenti score and making them even more powerful. And when Alvin does meet other people, their encounters are simple and touching, showing the hard lessons Alvin has learned about family over the course of a long, difficult life.

Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin made their directorial debuts in February 2022 with "Dog," which followed the "Magic Mike XXL" model of a road trip encountering lesser-known sections of American life. "Dog" is a sadder movie than "Magic Mike XXL" because the trip's ultimate destination is a military funeral, and along the way, Tatum and his dog co-star must contend with the trauma they've suffered as soldiers. This makes the bond of friendship between Tatum and the dog even more important than it is in "Magic Mike XXL," as it provides both of them life-saving help when they need it the most.

The most impressive aspect of Tatum and Carolin's first directing job is how well they film the landscapes encountered over the course of the trip. They make them symbols of the beauty of everyday life without making them overly stylized. The duo learned well from Steven Soderbergh's visual excellence without merely copying it. While "Dog" has its faults, including some awkward comedy at the beginning and a too-brief attempt to deal with the racism instilled into Iraq War soldiers, the strength of Tatum and Carolin's filmmaking and storytelling suggests that they could have a good future as directors.

15. Kings of the Road

The third film in Wim Wenders' Road Trilogy, "Kings of the Road" is a three-hour opus combining two of Wenders' favorite subjects: the road and cinema. The two titular "kings" are a movie theater projector repairman (played by "Alice in the Cities" lead Rüdiger Vogler) and a depressed psychologist (Hanns Zischler), who band together on a road trip after the psychologist has experienced a life-shattering breakup. They drive across what was then the East German border, touring worn-down movie theaters so that Vogler can make repairs.

"Kings of the Road" offers even less of a plot than "Alice in the Cities" does, also offering one of the purest, simplest depictions of a road trip on film. There's no inevitable endpoint for the characters to reach, just a sprawling journey where they come to slightly better understand each other and themselves. It encompasses all the joy and melancholy of road trips in one package, people searching for more from life hoping that they'll find it behind the wheel.

16. Having a Wild Weekend

1965's "Having a Wild Weekend," also known as "Catch Us If You Can," is technically a vehicle for The Dave Clark Five, the British group that came into popularity at the same time as The Beatles . "Having a Wild Weekend" would seem to put the band in a comedy just like "A Hard Day's Night," but director John Boorman instead made a lovely, melancholy road movie, showing two people trying in vain to escape their confining lives back home.

Dave Clark plays a stuntman who takes off on a road trip with a model (Barbara Ferris) dissatisfied with her position as the face of ad campaigns for meat. On their journey, they encounter the youth who will soon become the counterculture and the old men still obsessed with the imagery of old Hollywood. Everywhere they go, Clark and Ferris are reminded of the culture they're trying to fight against, but they're powerless to stop it. The two have impressive chemistry together, but their relationship is a sad one, one that can only last the length of the road trip even though they're the only people who could possibly understand each other. Even once the remaining four Dave Clark Five members show up to do some slapstick, the tone is more elegiac than silly.

17. Wild at Heart

For a more representative David Lynch road trip movie, there's "Wild at Heart," which manages to be funny and romantic as well as frightening. Sailor and Lula, the giddy young couple played by Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, hit the road only after Lula's mother has unsuccessfully tried to kill Sailor, and on their journey they'll deal with more killers and more victims. But their love may be strong enough to keep them safe every step of the way.

The giddy energy of "Wild at Heart" is unusual for Lynch movies, which usually have a more deadpan tone. Cage and Dern are balls of energy in this, engaging in grand romantic gestures and, in Cage's case, frequently falling into Elvis impersonations. The world around them has gone mad with rage and violence, the road bringing as many terrors as beauties, and they seem to have adapted to that madness by matching it. The title doesn't lie — these are two wild kids who will let nothing, not even a horrifying figure like Willem Dafoe's psychopathic Bobby Peru, stand in the way of their love. And for all the darkness of the rest of the movie, Lynch is still kind-hearted enough to give them a happy ending.

18. Two For the Road

All the good and bad feelings associated with going on the road are present in 1967's "Two for the Road," and they also represent the ups and downs of a marriage. The good and the bad are shuffled together in a nonlinear style, where pieces of the beginning, middle, and end of Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney's characters' relationship are presented as a series of out-of-order road trips. There is some beautiful European scenery over the course of the trips, but the fractured editing means that the destinations of the trips are less important than the trips themselves, and how they function as both bonding exercises and sources of arguments.

The film's most hilarious section is when Hepburn and Finney commit the error of going on a road trip with another couple, an obnoxious American family that makes the two sure of the mistakes they don't want to make in their own relationship. But of course they end up making those mistakes, and by the end "Two for the Road" is a bittersweet movie about how difficult and tricky it is to stay close to someone, whether that means marrying them or staying with them on a long car ride.

19. Don't Come Knocking

Wim Wenders and playwright-actor Sam Shepard first collaborated on the 1984 road movie "Paris, Texas," one of the most acclaimed films in the genre. Their decades-later second collaboration was 2005's "Don't Come Knocking," another road movie that couldn't match the critical success of its predecessor. But "Don't Come Knocking" is a very good movie in its own right, finding a lot of power both in western vistas and the tragic figure passing in front of them.

Shepard wrote and stars in "Don't Come Knocking," playing a washed-up Western star who ditches the set of his new movie in favor of driving to Nevada and then Montana, where both cheap thrills and old family await him. As with Wenders' other films, he makes the western settings of "Don't Come Knocking" look incredibly beautiful, shooting casinos, small-town squares, and vast deserts with the same level of vibrant color and light. And it also shares with Wenders' other work a tremendous sadness, where Shepard has abandoned the people who need him most and has only realized this too late to do much of anything about it. This trip may not be able to redeem Shepard, but it can get him one step closer, and that's better than he's done yet.

20. Highway 61

Canadian director Bruce McDonald followed in Wim Wenders' footsteps and made his own trilogy of road movies through the 1980s and '90s. The middle film in the trilogy was 1991's "Highway 61," a joyous comedy about American rock 'n' roll. Highway 61 is the highway named in Bob Dylan's legendary "Highway 61 Revisited" album, and one of the two leads (Valerie Buhagiar) is a rock-obsessed drug dealer trying to smuggle a dead body from Canada to New Orleans. Her partner (Don McKellar) is a nervous, shy barber who prefers jazz. Their odd-couple dynamic is very charming, and it only gets more charming as the trip brings them closer together.

"Highway 61" is led not just by romance and scenic views of all of North America, but by a great soundtrack at every step of the journey, often from obscure local bands McDonald is kind enough to introduce to his audience. And there's also plenty of oddball humor, particularly with a character who may or may not be the devil (Earl Pastko) chasing the two leads. "Highway 61" doesn't have much of a reputation outside of its native Canada, but it's a blissful film that deserves more attention.

21. Get On the Bus

One of the least commonly filmed ways of going on a road trip is taking the bus, perhaps because getting stuck with many unfamiliar people is not the most romantic way to see the country. But Spike Lee found a lot of drama, comedy, and political relevance in a story of a bunch of guys trapped on the bus. That story is 1996's "Get On the Bus," following a group of Black men en route to the famed Million Man March. Lee believes that every one of those million men has their own story, and he fits as many of those stories as he can into one bus.

As usual with Lee, "Get On the Bus" has an impressive cast, including Ossie Davis, Charles S. Dutton, Andre Braugher, and Bernie Mac. The characters touch on social issues, including homophobia and the anti-Semitism of Million Man March leader Louis Farrakhan, but mostly they have frank and funny conversations that naturally reveal their prejudices and moral stances rather than shout them out. Lee didn't write "Get On the Bus" (that was Reggie Rock Bythewood), but it shares the perceptive dialogue and unexpected comedy of Lee's best screenplays, including his beloved "Do the Right Thing." "Get On the Bus" is a smaller movie than "Do the Right Thing," but its confined setting doesn't mean it's any less riveting.

22. Thelma & Louise

The road trip that runs through 1991's "Thelma & Louise" is most famous for where it ends, with Thelma and Louise's car in the middle of a jump off a cliff. But their journey shouldn't just be defined by its endpoint, as the entirety of "Thelma & Louise" is a rollicking ode to female friendship and the healing power of the road trip, showing it as a rare opportunity for two women to take their lives into their own hands.

A few things remain consistent throughout Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise's (Susan Sarandon)'s road trip, namely the beauty of the southwest locations as shot by director Ridley Scott and the appalling behavior of the men both women meet along the way. "Thelma & Louise" is today best-known as the breakthrough film for breakout film for Brad Pitt , but he's only one of the film's parade of awful, often violent men, including the rapist who begins the journey in the first place. With such overpowering adversity, it's no wonder Thelma and Louise are so tight-knit — they must make their bond as strong as the forces united against them. And their bond can sustain even the steepest fall from a cliff.

23. Little Miss Sunshine

"Little Miss Sunshine" was the sensation of the 2006 Sundance Film Festival (per IndieWire ), its story of a dysfunctional family trapped in a Volkswagen van on the way to a child beauty pageant in California proving irresistible to both critics and audiences. The famous images of the film, like the family chasing after the bright yellow Volkswagen, suggest the kind of quirky, Wes Anderson-inspired comedy that was all the rage in the 2000s. But like actual Wes Anderson movies , "Little Miss Sunshine" deals with real pain and hurt, trapping several very fragile people in a small space where they might all combust.

It's helped by having such a sturdy cast playing those fragile people, including Steve Carell in one of his first dramatic performances, a silent Paul Dano, an Oscar-winning Alan Arkin, and most of all an Oscar-nominated Abigail Breslin as the girl all this trouble is in service of. The movie might have collapsed into road-movie cliches without a strong presence anchoring it, and Breslin, then 10 years old, proves more than capable of being that presence.

24. Two-Lane Blacktop

The most existential of all road movies might be 1971's "Two-Lane Blacktop," where driving is the only way of life for its main characters. But they aren't driving with any destination in mind; they're driving because it's the one thing they know how to do. Car culture was a big part of the '60s and '70s, and "Two-Lane Blacktop" has a supporting part for Dennis Wilson, whose work with the Beach Boys helped to cement cars as the ultimate symbol of cool and independence. But it's not all fun for the characters of "Two-Lane Blacktop," with the emptiness of the road ahead of them also representing the emptiness of their own obsessions and personalities.

Shot on the famed Route 66, with minimal dialogue to distract from the scenery, "Two-Lane Blacktop" is not short on great shots of cars in motion. But "Two-Lane Blacktop" also decries the hollowness of making cars the centerpiece of one's life, showing that a lifestyle based solely on speed and appearance cannot be sustained. The film's most famous line is "Those satisfactions are permanent," but the pleasures prove to be a very impermanent, fleeting bliss that doesn't disguise much deeper troubles.

25. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

In addition to being one of the great road trip movies, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" was also a breakout LGBTQ film when it was released in 1994, offering such a sunny view of its group of drag queens that it would be pointless to resist. The next year, America was already attempting its own "Priscilla" with the fellow drag-queen road movie "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar," but it couldn't compete with the original, particularly regarding the gorgeous vistas passed by the central trio. The stunning deserts of the Australian Outback prove to be an ideal setting for a story with outrageous outfits and colors, offering a plain brown backdrop on top of which every outfit and character pops out.

Not that the characters need any help standing out, especially when they're brought to life with such exuberance and talent. Only Terence Stamp, playing the transgender matriarch of the group, was an internationally known actor at the time of the release of "Priscilla." But the film also catapulted its other two leads, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, to their stardom. Even as all three actors are now almost three decades out from "Priscilla," it remains one of their crowning achievements, as well as one of the most infectiously cheerful road movies yet made.

26. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

One of the goofiest, most enjoyable road trips ever taken on film was the one taken by Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) as he searched for his lost bike in Tim Burton's feature directorial debut "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure." Pee-Wee would later become famous for his television show, where he created his own wacky universe, but in "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," he travels through the real America and finds that it's just as silly as he is. Whether visiting dive bars, Hollywood backlots, or even The Alamo, he bends every place he visits to his own indescribable wavelength.

Burton has made flashier, more expensive movies since "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," but he's rarely made anything better. His work becomes so defined by production design and special effects after this that it's a shock to see him working mostly with real locations, making the natural world ridiculous rather than creating ridiculous worlds from scratch. And the road movie proves an ideal match for his love of middle-American eccentricity, where every new character Pee-Wee meets on his travels is an oddball in their own way. This remains Burton's funniest and sweetest movie, free of the bitter edge that distinguishes many Burton movies and instead celebrating the goofiness of life.

27. Something Wild

Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild" takes a sharp turn around its midpoint, turning from a joyous road comedy to something scarier and more intense. But all of "Something Wild" is united by Demme's love of the road and of the people you can meet along the way. Sometimes those people can change your life, like how Melanie Griffith's free-spirited Lulu gets Jeff Daniels' yuppie businessman Charlie to admit that he has a wilder side than he presents to the world. And other times they can threaten that life, like Ray Liotta as Lulu's malevolent ex-husband, Ray, who resolves to force Charlie out of Lulu's life and win her back.

Even as "Something Wild" gets dark, Demme still finds something magical in every location visited, and often in places that seem perfectly ordinary. A friendly convenience-store employee, a dog on the back of a motorcycle, and a waitress singing outside of a New York greasy spoon — these details all come to vibrant life in front of Demme's camera. Few people have taken a road trip involving this many wacky, endearing characters, but the world as Demme portrays is a better, brighter place than it is in real life. It's a joy to experience a road trip in this world, even if only for two hours.

The 27 best road trip movies to watch so you forget you're stuck at home

  • Can't go anywhere right now? A good road trip movie could put you in a better mood.
  • Here are the 27 all-time best.
  • Classics like "Easy Rider" and "Thelma & Louise" are on our roundup.
  • There are also more recent movies like "Logan" and "Magic Mike XXL." 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories .

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Hollywood has always had a soft spot for road trip movies, and some have become memorable not just for what was shown on screen, but what the spirit of the movie meant for the people who saw them.

Take "Easy Rider" for example, whose no-rules approach launched a new way that movies were made for decades. Or "Thelma & Louise," which was as much about female empowerment as it was about a movie about two people on the run from the law.

Here are 27 road trip movies (listed alphabetically) you should check out before heading on your own adventure:

"Almost Famous" (2000)

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Cameron Crowe's love letter to the 1970s rock and roll scene, which he covered as a writer for Rolling Stone, is a fun look at adolescence, fame, and highlights the non-stop grind of a band being "on the road."

"The Blues Brothers" (1980)

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John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd play two brothers on a mission from God. Trying to get on the straight-and-narrow after getting out of prison, Jake Blues (Belushi) and his brother Elwood (Aykroyd) decide to help raise the money the Catholic home they were raised in needs to stay open. That leads to a road trip around Illinois to get the band back together.

"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (2006)

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With the help of director Larry Charles, Sacha Baron Cohen creates one of the funniest road trip movies ever made as he takes his character, Borat, to America to marry Pamela Anderson. But in the process, the movie highlights the US itself, as Borat travels the country doing everything from singing the Kazakhstan national anthem at a rodeo to hanging out with some fraternity kids.

"Dumb and Dumber" (1994)

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In this Farrelly brothers classic, friends Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) are convinced the gas man is out to get them after the death of their bird, so they decide to drive to Aspen to hand-deliver a briefcase the beautiful Mary (Lauren Holly) "forgot" at the airport. Oh, and they are hitting the road in a truck that's made up to look like a dog.

"Easy Rider" (1969)

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It's the movie that launched the "New Hollywood" era of the 1970s and was made with little money and lots of drugs.

Directed by Dennis Hopper, the Hollywood bad boy also stars alongside Peter Fonda as two hippie bikers (Jack Nicholson also shows up) who travel from LA to New Orleans after cashing in on smuggling cocaine from Mexico. On their freewheeling trip, they find an America that's split between the stuffy establishment and the younger generation that is starving for change.

"The End of the Tour" (2015)

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The days of conversations between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) are beautifully profiled in director James Ponsoldt's intimate story that has the two men interacting while on the road for Wallace's book tour.

"Into the Wild" (2007)

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Based on a true story, Christopher McCandless' quest to go off the grid and hitchhike to Alaska to live in the wilderness is a powerful exploration of human desire and the kindness of strangers.

"It Happened One Night" (1934)

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Frank Capra's famous movie is romantic comedy at its best. Claudette Colbert plays a spoiled heiress running from home, and Clark Gable is a reporter who finally thinks he's found a story that will get him some attention as he follows her to New York. But it will be forever known for its hitchhiking scene in which Colbert's character gets them a ride by pulling up her skirt to show off her legs.

"Little Miss Sunshine" (2006)

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Filled with an all-star cast including Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, and Abigail Breslin, we follow a dysfunctional family as they jump in a VW bus to drive the young Olive (Breslin) on a cross-country trip to the finals of a beauty pageant she's competing in.

"Logan" (2017)

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Marking the coda of the Hugh Jackman era as Wolverine, director James Mangold delivers a somber drama of the superhero's final days. Here he and Charles Xavier set out to drive a young mutant to a refuge in North Dakota. That sounds simple, but it definitely isn't.

"Magic Mike XXL" (2015)

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In this fantastic sequel to the 2012 original, Mike (Channing Tatum) sets out on the road with the remaining members of the Kings of Tampa in a food truck to Myrtle Beach for one final performance.

"Midnight Run" (1988)

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Robert De Niro is fantastic in this foul-mouthed comedy as bounty hunter Jack Walsh who plans to cash in when he tracks down a sneaky accountant (played by Charles Grodin) who has jumped bail.

But with the FBI, other bounty hunters, and the mob also trying to get their hands on his bounty, things aren't easy for Jack.

"The Motorcycle Diaries" (2004)

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Based on the Che Guevara memoir he wrote before becoming the Marxist revolutionary, Gael García Bernal plays young Guevara who, in 1952, went on a trip across South America with his friend Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna). The experience shaped Guevara's life as it showed him the injustices of the world.

"The Muppet Movie" (1979)

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Marking the first time the Muppets appear on the big screen, Kermit, Fozzie Bear and the rest of the gang go on a cross-country drive to Hollywood in hopes of making it big. A load of cameos, songs, and hilarity occur along the way.

"National Lampoon's Vacation" (1983)

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This classic from director Harold Ramis stars Chevy Chase as one of his most memorable characters, Clark W. Griswold, the ambitious father whose vacation plans always never work out.

Clark takes the family cross-country to Walley World and in the process leaves chaos in his wake.

"On the Road" (2012)

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Based on the iconic Jack Kerouac novel, Sam Riley plays the book's narrator, Sal Paradise, who after meeting Dean (Garrett Hedlund) and Marylou (Kristen Stewart), head on a free-spirited road trip across the country.

"Over the Top" (1987)

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Sylvester Stallone plays trucker and arm wrestling pro Lincoln Hawk who needs to get to Las Vegas to compete in the world arm wrestling tournament. But he also has to get his estranged son to his dying mother. This all leads to a big-rig father-and-son road trip.

"Pee-wee's Big Adventure" (1985)

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A loose parody of Vittorio De Sica's classic "Bicycle Thieves," Tim Burton makes his own classic around the zany antics of Paul Reubens' hit character Pee-wee Herman.

The movie follows the "boy" as he goes to search of his stolen bike, which he's been told by a psychic is in the basement of the Alamo (spoiler alert: there's no basement in the Alamo).

"Planes, Trains & Automobiles" (1987)

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Steve Martin and John Candy play two men who suddenly have to become travel companions as they try to get home for the holidays. Written and directed by John Hughes, Martin and Candy together are a delight.

"Rain Man" (1988)

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Tom Cruise plays sleazy Charlie Babbitt and Dustin Hoffman is his brother Raymond, who suffers from savant syndrome. Hoping to cash in on the fortune Raymond got from their father, Charlie sets the two out on a cross-country trip leading to a lot of self-discovery.

If you've never seen Barry Levinson's Oscar-winning movie, now's the time.

"Road Trip" (2000)

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Of course "Road Trip" was going to be on this list. Todd Phillips' insane raunchy comedy about four college friends on a race against time to retrieve a sex tape sent in the mail to one of their girlfriends is always a fun watch.

"Smokey and the Bandit" (1977)

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Burt Reynolds teams with his pal and longtime stunt double Hal Needham for his first directing effort, and it would go on to become a classic road trip movie.

Reynolds plays a fast-driving bootlegger who has to transport 400 cases of Coors beer safely from Texarkana to Atlanta. But things get complicated when Reynolds picks up a runaway bride (played by Sally Field) along the way.

"The Straight Story" (1999)

car road trip movie

In one of David Lynch's most traditional storytelling offerings, Richard Farnsworth plays a man who sets out on a trip via riding a lawnmower to make things right with his ill brother.

The story is based on a real-life event, in which Alvin Straight traveled 240 miles from Iowa to Wisconsin on a lawnmower.

"Stranger Than Paradise" (1984)

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Jim Jarmusch's second feature film follows Willie and his friend Eddie as they set out on a road trip to Cleveland to visit Willie's cousin from Hungary, Eva.

The movie went on to be regarded as a landmark work in the independent film world for its unconventional long takes and do-it-yourself aesthetic.

"Thelma & Louise" (1991)

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Ridley Scott's look at the road-trip-turned-manhunt adventure of friends Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) is arguably more powerful today because of the #MeToo than when it opened in the early 1990s.

"Tommy Boy" (1995)

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Perhaps the best Chris Farley/David Spade collaboration, in this one Farley plays an underachieving college graduate who suddenly has to travel the nation (with Spade as the geeky sidekick) to keep the accounts for his auto-parts family business after his father dies. This one truly shows off Farley's high-energy comedy greatness.

"Y Tu Mamá También" (2001)

car road trip movie

Director Alfonso Cuarón received a best screenplay Oscar nomination with his brother Carlos for this powerful road trip movie that made Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal international stars.

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How jujutsu kaisen's geto still appears in the anime after 0, beetlejuice 2 is reviving my excitement for tim burton's movies that i lost after his $245 million box office bomb.

The basest definition of a road trip is simply this: a person or people moving across a great distance, usually in an automobile. Road trips, despite our romantic cultural idea of them, are usually unremarkable chores – moving (the worst), driving home for the holidays, heading to school, etc. Even when driving to a vacation, the travel usually ends up being the worst part. Exciting, sure; but eventually those trips drone, and drone, and drone and… are we there yet?

In cinema, though, road trips are important in ways that seldom match reality. Some are heroes’ journeys, transformative experiences that elevate characters or bring them to age. Others are farcical comedies of error, presenting hilarious roadblocks and setbacks that exist only in fiction. Some are both, and few are neither. Despite having tonal differences and unique genre elements, road trip movies constitute a category all themselves. This list is about the best of that category.

These are the 17 Greatest Road Trip Movies of All Time.

17. Road Trip

Road Trip is a time capsule, stuffed with what young adults found funny around start of the century. The film grossed $120 Million against a $16 million dollar budget, and the credits list includes names like Seann William Scott, Amy Smart, Fred Ward, and Tom Green. If those names don’t induce flashbacks, maybe the film’s plot will.

Road Trip is about a college kid who, as a way to maintain a long distance relationship with his girlfriend, films himself in daily video blogs. On tape . He then mails the tape – in the mail – across the country to his girlfriend. This system works fine, until a tape that captured the boyfriend’s infidelity is accidentally mailed. So he and his friends get in an car and drive across the country to try to intercept the tape.

The film is ultimately a forgettable entry in the road trip genre – it comes in last on the list, included because its premise is an homage to the road trip itself, and because its name is, well, Road Trip.

16. Zombieland

Some film road trips are quests of self-discovery. Some serve practical purposes, like recovering an accidental sex-tape or heading to vacation. Or running from zombies.

When Zombieland arrived in theaters in 2009, we saw a polar extreme of road trip insanity. Starring Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eiesenberg, and Abigail Breslin, the film takes place in a world ravaged by the zombie apocalypse. These characters aren’t traversing the country on some field trip, they are desperately (and hilariously) seeking asylum - and twinkies.

As with any good road trip, barriers are broken down in the film, and relationships are formed.  When we first meet the protagonists of Zombieland , they identify themselves by birthplace exclusively (“ Hi, I’m Columbus ”) as a way to resist forming bonds, but by the end of the film romances spark and surprising friendships form. The film presents the road trip as a transformative event, with a satisfying emotional payoff. Plus a whole lot of zombies ( and maybe more to come) .

Borat : Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan , which we will call simply Borat moving forward, was either ahead of its time or timeless in its lampooning of xenophobia, homophobia, and jingoism in America. Sacha Baron Cohen plays the film's titular character, driving cross country to do two things: chronicle American culture, and find Pamela Anderson, who he saw on TV and is determined to take for a wife.

There’s a chance that whatever freshness or edginess  defined Borat when it released has been worn away, blunted by the bad impressions and recountings that were inescapable for a long time after the film’s initial release. But what Borat did as a road trip film was ingenious. By perverting the relationship between road trip and country (a relationship usually defined by discovery, and understanding), Sacha Baron Cohen turned a fun house mirror toward our national image. It was hilarious.

14. Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road is one of two things: it is either a stretched definition of “road trip”, or it is the apotheosis of “road trip”. We lean toward the latter. The film’s protagonists, Max (Tom Hardy) and Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) do, in fact, complete two long journeys in a truck, and all the hallmarks of a film road trip are present. The pressures of travel reveal hidden truths about the characters, who both discover each other and discover themselves. Relationships are formed; others, more destructive, are shed.

That the “pressures of travel” in this case includes radiated war-boys launching fire spears into trucks, sandstorms destroying caravans, and one faceless man playing a flamethrower guitar do not in any way discount the road-trip tropes highlighted above. If anything, the unique perils of this particular trip reinforce what we love about travel films, at the same time adding some of the best action  films anyone has ever seen.

13. Into The Wild

Into The Wild doesn’t follow the normal road trip format, usually including one or more characters in a car on the way to wherever, only to discover that the trip itself was more important than the destination. For Into The Wild , and the film’s protagonist Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch), the trip was never about anything other than the trip, destinations be damned.

In Into The Wild , McCandless strips himself of society’s strappings entirely, and resigns himself to travel wherever the wind blows. The film’s perspective is ultimately disturbing, but refreshingly original – what starts predictably as a paean to nature and a condemnation of society turns into a nightmare, as McCandless’ life comes to its conclusion, alone and afraid, having misjudged just how cruel nature could truly be.

The films’ finish is depressing and confounding, but it succeeds in playing sickly with our expectations of how road trips and retreats are supposed to work – the protagonist in this story may have found himself, but part of that discovery was just how unequipped he was to deal with his surroundings in the end.

12. Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine is the indie film that other indie films use as a success marker, after grossing $100 million at the box office against an $8-million-dollar budget and was nominated for four academy awards. Its easy to see how the film was so successful; it nimbly presents a funny and heartfelt story that could have easily been cloyingly sweet in the wrong hands.

The film follows a family, dysfunctional in their own way, that travels across the country to enter their youngest girl in a beauty pageant. The family consists of personalities that defy convenient descriptors. A teenage son, in the middle of a vow of silence until he becomes a test pilot. A scholarly brother, who also happens to be homosexual and is recovering from a suicide attempt. A grandfather, booted from his retirement home for snorting heroin.

The trip in Little Miss Sunshine brings the family together, moves them past the petty conflicts of the film’s early going. Instead of changing for one another, though, the family becomes galvanized around Abigail Breslin’s character, happy to be with each other even though they are all screwed up In one way or another.

11. Rain Man

It’s shocking now – with the tent pole culture that pervades our theaters – that Rain Man was the highest grossing film of 1988. But it was, with $354 million against a budget of twenty-five and four Oscar wins (including Best Picture and Best Actor) to boot. The film follows Tom Cruise as Charlie, a slick salesman with debts to pay. Charlie’s father passes away and leaves the family’s considerable wealth to Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), a brother Charlie never knew existed. Raymond is an autistic savant who is living at a mental institution at the film’s start.

The road trip in Rain Man is predictably transformative for Charlie, who starts the film as a slave to his own self-interest and finishes with a newfound perspective on what relationships can mean.  As the two brothers travel from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, hampered by the restrictions of Raymond’s condition, Charlie discovers his brother to be more than just a roadblock in front of the family fortune.

10. The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries is as much an ode to the road movie genre as it is a biopic of a young Che Guevara as he traverses the South American continent by, you guessed it, motorcycle. The film could have been a by-the-numbers historical recounting of a revolutionary in the making, but it instead takes a romantic stance toward the road trip as a transformation event. It’s poetic, while still historically accurate.

The film adapts the real life memoirs of Che Guevara, the story of his journey across South America during his last year of medical school. Ostensibly traveling to volunteer at a leper colony, Guevara and his riding partner are confronted with the disparity between the upper class that they belong to and the abject poverty that they discover along the way. The Motorcycle Diaries makes the road trip multifunctional – it is a tool of personal discovery, of chronicling a continent, and of forming a revolutionary.

9. Almost Famous

At the intersection of road movie and coming-of-age movie, you can find Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical   Almost Famous , a story about a teenage rock and roll journalist and the band he is following.

At his best, Crowe is adept at toeing the line between oversweet sentimentality and sharp emotional resonance. Almost Famous is Crowe at his best. The film follows William Miller, a budding music critic with only fifteen years of life under his belt. He follows Stillwater - a band on the rise - across the country, discovering on the way what it feels like to fall in love, be accepted, make friends, be let down, be rejected, and be embarrassed. If the hallmark of road trip films is travel as a conduit for change, Almost Famous is that idea distilled down to its core.

A young Patrick Fugit gave depth and life to the main character of William, alongside a star studded cast including Kate Hudson in the role of Penny Lane, veteran groupie. All the characters in the tour bus are tainted, broken in one way or another, and yet they are all likeable. It makes for an intoxicating mixture of joy and sadness, and a trip that we would love to take.

8. Y Tu Mama Tambien

Y Tu Mama Tambien is a 2001 film directed by Alfonso Cuaron that follows two teenagers and a woman in her twenties as they traverse Mexico in search of a particular secluded beach. Cuaron would go on to direct giant, visionary films like Gravity and Children of Men , but Y Tu Mama Tambien is a small, ruthlessly intimate tale.

Some road trip films, specifically about young men discovering themselves, presents sexuality as an end goal, something worth traveling to discover. Not even sex, the act; just a character’s own sexuality, the threshold between boyhood and manhood. Y Tu Mama Tambien presents sexuality as a nuclear bomb. The two protagonists cling to their illicit history with women, and strive to sexualize themselves in the eyes of the world. That quest eventually destroys the foundation of their relationship, as they divulge corrosive truths about themselves and cross lines that cannot be uncrossed.

That summary may feel vague, because it is. The film itself is starkly explicit and frank in ways that we really can’t be here. Its presentation of sexuality is aggressively subversive, and it’s use of the road trip as a tool for that subversion is startling. It is a singular entry into the road movie genre, and one that will stay with you for a while after the trip has ended.

7. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Harold and Kumar  Go to White Castle is road-trip-as-farce, with two titular characters that - after engaging in some recreational drug activity - decide to make the quest to White Castle for hamburgers. On its surface, the film is indistinct from other stoner comedies like Half Baked , How High, et al. What sets it apart is the film’s characters, which are fully realized and relatable, and the lead actors, who breathe life into a film that is otherwise constricted by the well-tread genre that defines it.

Harold and Kumar, played by John Cho and Kal Penn, are markedly different from the other slackers and underachievers that often populate comedies like this one. They are both second generation immigrants, and both relatively high achievers. The impetus for their drug-addled escapade isn’t arrested development. Instead, it’s the reality that maybe they don’t have agency over their lives at a crucial age. Kumar (Penn) must decide whether he wants to be a doctor, or whether he is fulfilling a destiny that he didn’t choose, a destiny that he also feels is completely ethnically unoriginal. Harold is a lonely investment banker, stagnating and in unrequited love with his neighbor.

The characters are easily relatable, have tangible feelings and goals, and are as such sympathetic figures to their audience. Like any good road movie, they change along the way, discovering their true desires and regaining power over their choices.

6. The Straight Story

The Straight Story is based on the true events surrounding Alvin Straight’s journey across Iowa and Wisconsin. The fact that Alvin’s journey takes place on a lawn mower is just the first in a series of distinctions between The Straight Story and other road trip films.

Richard Farnsworth stars as Alvin, an elderly man who lives with his daughter. He is visited with the news that his estranged brother has suffered a stroke, prompting Alvin to visit him before he dies and make amends. Alvin, saddled with the physical impairments that come with advanced age, can’t procure a driver’s license. So, determined, he makes the journey on his extremely slow lawn tractor.

David Lynch directed the film, shooting the entire movie along the actual route Alvin took to find his brother. The Straight Story was nominated for the palm d’or at Cannes film festival in 1999, and was released to nearly unanimous critical acclaim.  It stands apart from Lynch’s normally byzantine works , as an accessible and touching film – one that uses the road trip as a way for Alvin to meet numerous characters along the way and have heartfelt, meaningful interactions with each of them before eventually achieving his goal.

5. Vacation (1983)

Vacation is both outrageously funny and truly poignant in a way that few other films are. By now, the story is well known – Clark Griswald ( Chevy Chase ) is a harried and overmatched husband and father of two who wants only to provide a quality vacation for his family, one devoid of complications.

That Griswold is not a taskmaster, but rather a loving and caring dad and husband, only heightens the comic tragedy of the whole endeavor. Vacation ’s lesson is simple, and instantly relatable: no family is perfect, and nothing ever goes as planned. The canned experiences, the plastic amusement parks and hokey tourist traps aren’t what make family vacations memorable. It’s the diversions, the incidents that could only happen to your family, that make otherwise unremarkable experiences memorable.

Now, Vacation takes that idea to extreme heights, as any good comedy would.  Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, from the vehicle itself, to lost currency, car accidents, crazy relatives, and at least one dead dog. Clark drives himself to the brink of insanity trying to overcome this series of unfortunate events, only to find out that the family’s destination is not even open for business.

It was a blueprint that served for four more sequels, of varying quality. Vacation kept returning to the well, ultimately because we are all Griswalds to one degree or another.

4. Dumb and Dumber

Road trips rarely come funnier than Dumb and Dumber , a comedy of errors about two friends – Harry and Lloyd - driving across the country to return a briefcase of money to its rightful owner. Harry and Lloyd are painfully unaware that a crime syndicate is also after that money, and that their safety is very much in question from the moment they embark.

Unlike other films on this list, Dumb and Dumber doesn’t have much to say about the inherent power of road trips, besides as a plot device. That the film isn’t exactly lyrical about the  forces of travel doesn’t detract from its humor, though, and that is ultimately the point of the entire exercise. What makes the characters of Dumb and Dumber so hilarious is precisely that they don’t change, that they refuse to change, that they don’t even acknowledge change as an option.  They can’t be transformed by the road trip, because their very essence makes that impossible.

The film, despite being pretty blue in its humor, is actually thoughtful in that regard. Where most road trip films zig, Dumb and Dumber zags. If the movie concluded with its idiot protagonists having learned something, it would feel cheap, unearned. Instead, when Harry and Lloyd unthinkingly pass up the opportunity to be oil boys for a busload of models at the film’s end, only to continue walking on foot, it feels hilariously perfect .

3. Thelma and Louise

Thelma and Louise is a road trip film with something to say, something prescient and relevant today that was remarkably ahead of its time in 1991. The film follows two friends , Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) who take to the road for a two-day vacation. What begins as a regular retreat ends in disaster, marked by murder, robbery, and suicide.

The film’s attitude toward male oppression - and the appropriate female response - is complicated, and difficult to unpack in this space. The titular characters have both been affected by male violence in one way or another, and their decision to deliver  retribution in kind ultimately leads to their untimely death.

The above description might make an uninitiated reader expect Thelma and Louise to be dark, disturbing, and tragic - and it is that. But remarkably, the film is also vibrant and funny, populated with characters that jump off the screen. Whether it is a truly feminist statement, or an armed and violent perversion of feminist ideology, or anti-male, or none of the above is really is an argument for a different space entirely. We are concerned with Thelma and Louise as a road trip movie, and it succeeds in being a completely unique and rewarding entry in that category.

2. The Blues Brothers

In road trip films, by definition, the travel serves a purpose; it isn’t just a matter of circumstance. T he Blues Brothers might just be the exception that proves the rule in that regard. The trip in question isn’t one of self-discovery, or transformation. The miles logged don’t have inherent power or value. Instead, the road trip in The Blues Brother  gives the film itself shape. As characters move from one place to the next, the film gains momentum and the stakes grow exponentially higher.

Jake and Elwood Blues are a pair of seedy musicians, seeking to save the boys home where they grew up from closure, if only to give themselves some form of redemption. To do so, they must reassemble their old group and play music for money. To a certain extent, that is the gist of the entire film. What actually appears on screen, though, is a demolition opera, complete with car chases, crashes, shootouts, and fantastic musical numbers. The road trip doesn’t contribute to the film’s function, but it certainly defines the film’s form.

1. Easy Rider

This list began with Road Trip , a time capsule distinctly from the year 2000. We will finish it with Easy Rider , the best road movie of all time and a film unmistakably from 1969.

Easy Rider is all about the trip. The film presents two protagonists, latched onto a reality that is quickly disappearing around them. The two are free spirits, counter-cultural travelers at the end of the sixties - a time when ideas of renegade spirit and true freedom were slowly corroding. Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy ( Dennis Hopper ), travel from Los Angeles to New Orleans by motorcycle, hoping to make it in time for Mardi Gras. They are flush with cash from a recent drug deal and open to whatever the road has in store for them.

What they find is unexpected – it seems the country, at least where they are, isn’t as welcoming to free spirited weirdos as it once was. Wyatt and Billy, two bikers who just want a taste of true freedom and the road, stand out in the small towns and rural communities along their trail. They are marked as outsiders, vagrants, and tragedy ultimately befalls them.

It’s a tale that couldn’t possibly have been told in one place. The road trip was vital in unearthing the truth about America, at least the truth that the filmmakers and the protagonists were living. Easy Rider is the quintessential road movie, and the best the category has to offer.

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The 10 Best Road Trip Movies, from ‘It Happened One Night’ to ‘Easy Rider’

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A good road trip is one of the most cinematic experiences that a person can have in real life. Different cities and landscapes blur together as scenery flies by your windows and day gradually turns into night. The car can begin to feel like an isolated bubble where nothing matters except the people inside. Whether you’re laughing and singing with friends, fighting with your family, or simply letting your thoughts settle while you drive solo, road trips seem to stop time and create distinct memories that can be revisited over and over again .  

So it’s not surprising that filmmakers have been inspired by road trips for as long as there have been movies. From the titans of the Old Hollywood studio system to international arthouse auteurs and contemporary independent directors, virtually every great filmmaker has tried their hand at a road trip movie at one point or another. Locations and genres can change, but the motif of people going from one place to another in a car is one of the building blocks of the international language of cinema.  

Road trip movies are versatile enough to encompass a wide variety of subject matter, but they often fall into two genres: comedies and contemplative dramas. The road trip comedy is a Hollywood standard because its built-in structure (characters need to get somewhere in a finite amount of time and are stuck together in a small space) lends itself to endless funny scenarios. From disgruntled fathers driving their badly-behaved children to strangers who fall in love after being forced to travel together, cars serve as confined spaces that allow a variety of relationships to flourish. On the other end of the spectrum, you have dramas from auteurs like Wim Wenders and Ingmar Bergman that see the road as a place for humans to think. Those films prioritize the destination much less than the self-discovery that can take place when you’re not in any particular rush to get somewhere.  

The road trip movie has endured for over a century, and its timeless appeal means that it’s unlikely to disappear any time soon. Keep reading for ten of our favorites, listed in chronological order.  

“It Happened One Night” (1934)

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, 1934

What It Is:  The archetypal Hollywood romantic comedy, Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night” stars Claudette Colbert as pampered socialite Ellie, who boards a Greyhound bus from Florida to New York City to reunite with her new husband, pilot King Westley (Jameson Thomas), after her father attempts to annul the marriage. Unused to fending for herself, she ends up relying on the help of sarcastic newspaper reporter Peter (Clark Gable) to make the journey, despite despising his personality. At least at first — hitchhiking adventures and stays in motels quickly cause sparks to fly between the mismatched pair.

Perfect For:  Couples looking for date night films, “Looney Tunes” fans who want to watch the Gable performance that inspired Bugs Bunny, and lovers of pretty much every romantic comedy made in the last nine decades. —WC

“Wild Strawberries” (1957)

WILD STRAWBERRIES, Victor Sjostrom, Bibi Andersson, 1957

What It Is:  Not exactly the fun road trip romp the genre usually promises, “Wild Strawberries” uses a long car ride as the backdrop for a surreal exploration of aging, loneliness, and death. Ingmar Bergman’s film stars Victor Sjöström as cold-hearted professor Isak Borg, who is set to receive a lifetime achievement award for his career in bacteriology. On the drive to the university where the ceremony will take place, he’s accompanied by his pregnant daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin) and a group of young hitchhikers — one of whom is a double in looks and name for his childhood sweetheart Sara (played by Bibi Andersson). Over the course of the trip, Isak slowly warms to his younger companions, and experiences a series of flashbacks and dreams that forces him to confront the impending end of his life and his many regrets from his empty existence.

Perfect For:  Existential types, dying old men, and those whose only exposure to Bergman’s films are the HBO “Scenes From a Marriage” remake and the chess scene from “Seventh Seal.” —WC

“Easy Rider” (1969)

EASY RIDER, from left: Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson, 1969 ESY 003FOH(1011)

What It Is : A counterculture classic, Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider” stars the director and Peter Fonda as two drug-smuggling motorcyclists on a journey from Los Angeles to New Orleans, where they’re hoping to celebrate Mardi Gras. Along the road, they encounter a colorful cast of hippies, free love commune residents, addicts, prostitutes, and other outsiders. Their free-wheeling adventures are contrasted by the judgment they face from small town types and law enforcement looking to lock them up.

Perfect For:  Rebels, stoners, general miscreants everywhere, and fans of the iconic rock bands like The Byrds, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Steppenwolf that soundtrack the film. —WC

“Two-Lane Blacktop” (1971)

TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, Laurie Bird, James Taylor, 1971

What It Is: “Two Lane Blacktop” is so clearly a product of its time that we could never hope to reverse engineer it. But when watched in 2023, it’s a fascinating countercultural artifact and a remnant of a film industry that now looks completely unrecognizable. Monte Hellman’s portrait of youthful angst and the freedom of the open road stars James Taylor and Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson as speed-obsessed drifters whose encounter with a mysterious driver named GTO prompts them to embark on a cross-country race.

Who It’s For:  Anyone with a need for speed and pop culture geeks who enjoy seeing famous non-actors trying to act. —CZ

“Paris, Texas” (1984)

PARIS, TEXAS, from left: Harry Dean Stanton, Hunter Carson, 1984, TM & Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. /Courtesy Everett Collection

What It Is: After making a name for himself in the German arthouse scene with his Road Movie Trilogy consisting of “Alice in the Cities,” “The Wrong Move,” and “Kings of the Road,” Wim Wenders brought his brand of contemplative cinema to America and made his magnum opus. “Paris, Texas” tells the story of a broken man (Harry Dean Stanton) wandering through the desert before his brother finds him and convinces him to reconnect with the family he walked out on. Wenders continued to find poetry in the loneliness of the road, and the desolate American scenery and Stanton’s heartbreakingly expressive face ended up being the best muses of his career. 

Perfect For:  Fans of slow cinema and anyone looking to brush up on the 20th century’s most impressive works of filmmaking. —CZ

“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” (1985)

PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens), 1985

What It Is: After developing a cult following from his stage show at the Roxy, Paul Reubens brought his comedic persona known as Pee-Wee Herman to the big screen in a whimsical road trip comedy directed by a young animator named Tim Burton. The film sees the idiosyncratic man-child traveling across the country to recover his stolen bike — and using his charm and joie de vivre to defuse conflicts with all of the shady characters he meets along the way. 

Perfect for: Loners, rebels, and anyone who wants to revisit the work of a comedic genius at the height of his powers. —CZ

“Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (1987)

PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES, Steve Martin, John Candy, 1987, © Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

What It Is:  John Hughes’ holiday classic stars Steve Martin and John Candy as a mismatched pair of travelers who team up to make it home to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Martin’s suave ad executive constantly clashes with Candy’s bumbling shower curtain ring salesman as their cursed trip leads them onto — you guessed it — planes, trains, and automobiles in an attempt to get home before the holiday ends. Utterly ridiculous until it gets touching, the film is one of the strongest entries in the seemingly endless string of hits that Hughes churned out in the 1980s. 

Perfect For:  Families at Thanksgiving and anyone on a delayed flight who wants to remember that things could be so much worse. —CZ

“Thelma & Louise” (1991)

THELMA & LOUISE, (aka THELMA AND LOUISE), from left: Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon, 1991, ©MGM/courtesy Everett Collection

What It Is:  Ridley Scott and screenwriter Callie Khouri flipped the script on the conventional gender roles of the buddy comedy genre, opting to tell a story about two women having a blast while running from the law. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis give career-best performances as the eponymous duo — and both picked up well-derved Oscar nominations for Best Actress. The film is best remembered for its shockingly bold ending, but stands out as one of the 20th century’s most vibrant portrayals of friendship and the highways of America.

Who It’s For:  Ridley Scott completionist s, feminist film scholars, and anyone in the mood for a great time. —CZ

“The Straight Story” (David Lynch, 1999)

THE STRAIGHT STORY, Richard Farnsworth, 1999. ©Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

What It Is: Perhaps the biggest anomaly in David Lynch’s filmography, “The Straight Story” saw the beloved auteur shifting away from surrealism to tell a G-rated story of a man who travels the country on a riding lawnmower. While the Disney movie doesn’t feature any of the twisted nightmares that define many of Lynch’s best works, it’s filled with the wholesome Americana imagery that appears throughout his filmography. The film is a reminder that for all of his signature stylistic flourishes, Lynch is a filmmaker whose grasp of the fundamentals allow him to tell compelling stories without hiding behind bells and whistles.

Perfect for:  Anyone whose favorite parts of “Twin Peaks” were the wholesome small town antics. —CZ

“Little Miss Sunshine” (2006)

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, Abigail Breslin, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, 2006, © Fox Searchlight / Courtesy:  Everett Collection

What It Is:  One of the most darkly amusing road trip comedies in recent memory follows the plight of a dysfunctional family who takes an 800-mile road trip to support their daughter’s entry in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Piling into a van that’s breaking down almost as rapidly as the familial ties that bind them, they find themselves confronting their delusional dreams and long-simmering resentments (and a horn that never stops honking). While “Little Miss Sunshine” is a classic example of the “Sundance road trip movie” trope that’s often maligned in indie film circles, there’s no denying that it’s one of the best entries in the subgenre. 

Perfect For:  Anyone who is beginning to question their belief that child beauty pageants are an unambiguous societal good. —CZ

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15 All-Time-Best Road Trip Movies

Best road trip movies.

Thelma and Louise

For nearly as long as there have been cars and film, there have been road trip movies.  From the serious ("Easy Rider," "Thelma and Louise") to the delightfully silly ("Dumb and Dumber," "National Lampoon's Vacation"), these films have been a staple of worldwide cinema for nearly a century. But while some, like those on this list, are enduring classics, others (we’re looking at you, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip”) are best left in the archives.

Using data from Rotten Tomatoes’ Audience Scores, we’ve compiled a list of the top 15 road trip movies and discovered that, just like the best adventures, the most memorable films about hitting the road are about more than the destination — they’re about the people and places we find along the way, and the experiences that change us forever.

15. "Sideways" (2004) - 78% on Rotten Tomatoes

Sideways

One of many Academy Award winners on the list, this dramatic comedy put California’s Santa Ynez Valley on the wine tourism map, and had a significant negative impact on merlot sales, thanks to the main character’s disdain for the varietal.

The story follows divorced, depressed, wine-obsessed Miles (Paul Giamatti) and his friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church), an aging, former soap opera actor who is soon to be married and plans to have a last fling before marriage. Against the beautiful backdrop of vine-covered hills, the two both begin to hit rock bottom in their lives.

Pour a glass of wine — preferably pinot noir — for this one.

14. "Thelma and Louise" (1991) - 82% on Rotten Tomatoes

Thelma and Louise

Ridley Scott's dark comedy follows the story of friends Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) as they leave their boring lives in Arkansas for more adventure than they bargained for. Sure, there are some dark themes, but the film also explores the close bonds of friendship, the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love and the importance of living on your own terms. Plus, there’s an iconic appearance by a young Brad Pitt.

It’s all but guaranteed to make you want to grab your bestie and hit the road for your own adventure in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible — just without the crime spree, ensuing police chase or iconic but bleak finale.

Along the way, the group has plenty of laughs, while reexamining their friendships, the reasons they’ve drifted apart and the bonds that keep them together.

13. "Easy Rider" (1969) - 82% on Rotten Tomatoes

Easy Rider

Directed by Dennis Hopper and made on a small budget, "Easy Rider" follows two hippie bikers, Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper), as they travel from L.A. to New Orleans after a successful drug deal.

As they ride their Harleys across the country, the film explores the counterculture of the late '60s and early '70s — LSD, marijuana, communal living — and the changes that were happening in the U.S. as a younger generation rebelled against the established norms of their parents and grandparents.  

12. "The Motorcycle Diaries" (2004) - 83% on Rotten Tomatoes

The Motorcycle Diaries

Set in 1952, this film shares the experiences of Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Gael García Bernal) long before he became a Marxist revolutionary. In the movie, young Guevara takes a trip across South America with his friend Alberto Granado.

Their 8,000-mile road journey by motorcycle and other transport takes them from Argentina to Peru, and exposes Che to the world’s suffering, injustice and oppression, ultimately informing some of his ideas about freedom and equality.

11. "Dumb and Dumber" (1994) - 84% on Rotten Tomatoes

Dumb and Dumber

“We got no food, we got no jobs, our pets' heads are falling off!” This Farrelly brothers comedy offered up a half-dozen catchphrases that dominated the latter half of the '90s, and that can still be heard today.

The story is a classic buddy road trip tale — except that these two buddies, Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels), happen to be complete idiots. Convinced that “the gas man” is coming to kill them, they decide to travel from Providence, Rhode Island, to Aspen, Colorado, to return the briefcase beautiful Mary (Lauren Holly) left at the airport after Lloyd chauffeured her there. Hilarity, of course, ensues.

10. "National Lampoon’s Vacation" (1983) - 85% on Rotten Tomatoes

National Lampoons Vacation

This Harold Ramis classic stars Chevy Chase in his first turn as Clark W. Griswold, a well meaning, fumbling father who takes his family on a cross-country trip to Walley World.

Anyone who has experienced an everything-goes-wrong road trip with family will relate as the Griswolds make their way through Death Valley and the Grand Canyon and, eventually, to the fictional amusement park, with plenty of trials and tribulations along the way.

9. "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987) - 87% on Rotten Tomatoes

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Set around Thanksgiving, this John Hughes comedy uses the chaos of holiday travel as a plot device, bringing together two strangers — Type-A Neal (Steve Martin) and overly chatty salesman Del (John Candy) — who become travel partners and have to work together to get home to their respective families.

The odd couple finds themselves in one hilarious situation after another and along the way — spoiler alert — the unlikely duo actually forms a friendship as their journey comes to an end.

8. "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) - 88% on Rotten Tomatoes

Bonnie and Clyde

If you’ve heard the story of Bonnie and Clyde, two real-life criminals who traveled the central U.S. in the 1930s, leaving a trail of death in their wake, then you know how this movie ends (hint: with a scene that’s regarded as one of the bloodiest death scenes in film history).

But that doesn’t make the story any less fascinating, as Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) transition from small-time amateur thieves to the leaders of a small gang of murderous bank robbers terrorizing the midwest from Texas to Minnesota.

7. "Into the Wild" (2007) - 89% on Rotten Tomatoes

Into the Wild

Based on the 1996 novel, this film tells the story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) as he travels across North America and Alaska on a quest to be self-sufficient, reject conventional life and live off the land. Eventually, he ends up near Denali National Park in Alaska, where he finds an abandoned bus that he makes his home.

Alas, it turns out life in the Alaskan wilderness isn’t easy, and while the movie may make you yearn for a simpler life closer to nature — or at least a visit to Alaska — you won’t envy what happens to McCandless in the end.

6. "Tommy Boy" (1995) - 90% on Rotten Tomatoes

Tommy Boy

Comedians Chris Farley and David Spade team up in this hit comedy that gave the world Farley’s famous “fat guy in a little coat” moment.

After Tommy’s (Farley) father dies, the family business is in jeopardy and underachiever Tommy has to travel around the country with the antagonistic Richard (Spade), trying to sell 500,000 brake pads to save the company. Of course, mishaps follow, including a hilarious run-in with a deer, as the two try to make deals and keep the company out of the hands of rival businessman Ray Zalinsky (Dan Aykroyd).

5. "Rain Man" (1988) - 90% on Rotten Tomatoes

Rain Man

Winner of four Academy Awards, this critically acclaimed film pairs Tom Cruise as self-centered Charlie Babbitt and Dustin Hoffman as Raymond, the autistic savant brother Charlie never knew existed.

When Charlie’s father dies and leaves his fortune to Raymond, Charlie attempts to gain custody of Raymond — and his fortune — and insists on taking Raymond back to his home in L.A. from Ohio. When Raymond refuses to board the plane, the two embark on a cross-country trip that changes both of their lives.

4. "Little Miss Sunshine" (2006) - 91% on Rotten Tomatoes

Little Miss Sunshine

Winner of two Academy Awards, this dark comedy follows an all-star cast, including Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano and Alan Arkin, as they drive across the country in a VW bus so 7-year-old daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) can compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.

The quirky, troubled family — overworked mom, suicidal brother, Type-A dad, silent stepbrother, foul-mouthed grandfather — aren’t immediately likable, but in the end, this is a heartwarming tale about road trips gone wrong, loving your weirdo family members as they are, and being there for them no matter what.

3. "Blues Brothers" (1980) - 92% on Rotten Tomatoes

Blues Brothers

A cult classic, this musical comedy stars comedic giants John Belushi (as ex-con Jake Blues) and Dan Aykroyd (as his brother Elwood) playing brothers on a mission to help raise money for the Catholic orphanage they grew up in. Their idea: reunite their former blues band, which broke up while Jake was in prison.

The pair head off on a road trip to recruit their reluctant former bandmates, evading police, Nazis and a murderous mystery woman as they careen around Chicago and much of Illinois in their Bluesmobile.

2. "Almost Famous" (2000) - 92% on Rotten Tomatoes

Almost Famous

Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical story about his time as a writer for “Rolling Stone” in the 1970s, this Golden Globe winner tells the story of William Miller (Patrick Fugit), a 15-year-old aspiring rock journalist who gets the assignment of a lifetime: tour with the up-and-coming band, Stillwater.

The film follows William, the band and their many hangers-on, including groupie Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), as they travel by bus (and one harrowing plane ride) touring the U.S. and trying to make it big.

1. "It Happened One Night" (1934) - 93% on Rotten Tomatoes

It Happened One Night

Directed by Frank Capra, this black-and-white film from Hollywood’s golden age tells the tale of a spoiled heiress (Claudette Colbert) running away from home and the reporter (Clark Gable) who follows her to New York trying to get the scoop.

Winner of five Academy Awards, it’s most known for the famous hitchhiking scene in which Colbert's character finally waves down a ride by pulling up her skirt to show off her legs on the side of the road.

The Cinemaholic

13 Best Road Trip Movies on Netflix (March 2024)

 of 13 Best Road Trip Movies on Netflix (March 2024)

Road trip movies often send out a deeper message than just going from point A to B. They depict transformations of those who embark on them and also stress immensely the value of the journey a lot more than the final destination. We understand the value of road trips for you. We also understand that, at times, a little push is needed to get the courage to leave behind everything for a while and go on one. However, there are also road trip movies that incorporate a different genre, like thriller or action or action thriller. In such movies, the plot is underscored by the trip, but that doesn’t dampen the theme and the emotions of the story, which is what the following movies capture.

13. Bad Trip (2021)

car road trip movie

‘Bad Trip’ is a hilarious comedy road movie that will surely have you falling out of your chair in laughter. Chris Carey (Eric André) and Bud Malone (Lil Rel Howery) are two friends who are completely dissatisfied with the direction their lives have taken. Stuck at dead-end jobs with no progress or promotion, the two yearn for even the slightest bit of excitement. However, when Chris unexpectedly comes across his high-school crush, Maria Li, the friends decide to set out on a road trip from Florida to New York City so that Chris can win her over. Thus, the friends then steal a car and set out on a trip that ensues one hilarious incident after the other, while unbeknownst to them, Bud’s sister, the actual owner of the car, appears hot on their trail. You can check out the film here .

12. End of the Road (2022)

car road trip movie

Directed by Millicent Shelton, ‘ End of the Road ’ is a sinister take on a road trip movie. Starring Queen Latifah and Ludacris, it tells the story of Brenda, her two kids, and her brother Reggie, whose cross-country road trip across the New Mexico desert to a new place for a new job (after losing her old one) and a new life, goes haywire. A halt on the way makes them witnesses to a murder, following which the killer puts them in his crosshair. Moreover, Reggie takes something from the crime scene that belongs to the killer, something that is a huge mistake, and Brenda knows it. How she and her family get rid of this maniac is what follows in this high-octane road trip thriller. You can stream the movie here .

11. Dirty Grandpa (2016)

car road trip movie

‘Dirty Grandpa’ reveals the fun/casual side of Robert De Niro, who stars as Dick, the grandfather to Zac Efron’s Jason Kelly, who is a lawyer and is about to be married. Dick has just lost his wife and wants to have all the fun he couldn’t in the last 15 years or so. So when Jason takes him on a Spring Break road trip to Florida, he unlocks the raunchy side of himself that Jason had no idea existed. Directed by Dan Mazer, the ‘Dirty Grandpa’ cast also includes Zoey Deutch as Jason’s classmate Shadia, Aubrey Plaza as Shadia’s friend Lenore, and Julianne Hough as Jason’s fiancée Meredith. The exploits of the grandpa-grandson duo are what ‘Dirty Grandpa’ is made up of, and it’s a fun riot. You can be a part of it right here .

10. Kodachrome (2017)

car road trip movie

Matt, played by Jason Sudeikis, is often overshadowed by his father’s reputation as a famous photojournalist. Upon finding that he has cancer, Matt’s father’s last wish is to go on a road trip with his son from New York to Kansas to get his last few Kodachromes developed before it’s too late and the memories get lost in unprocessed films. The movie will bring back some pleasant memories to those who once used Kodachromes for taking pictures with Kodak cameras before the company went bankrupt and shut down completely. The film is very predictable overall, but that’s how most road-trip feel-good kind of movies are, right? We do not watch them for a predictable storyline. We watch them for the whole positive vibe that the movie gives out to touch us and, at times, even inspire us deeply. You may watch the film here .

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9. The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

car road trip movie

Put the Antman star, Paul Rudd , in any film, and he’ll surely give you a great performance and some hilarious jokes to remember. ‘The Fundamentals of Caring’ is one such film where Paul Rudd plays the role of a writer who has recently experienced the loss of a loved one. To recover from that, he decides to become a caregiver. This is when he meets an angry and frustrated teenager who has never left his home because of his disability. During the journey, the two get close and get a deeper understanding of friendship and aspiration. This movie is a pure entertainer when you’re in a feel-good kind of mood and will make you laugh and cry at the same time. You can watch it here .

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8. Seventeen (2019)

car road trip movie

‘Seventeen,’ also known as ‘Diecisiete’ in Spanish , follows Hector, a spirited and lively 17-year-old who has been confined to a juvenile detention center for two years. While most believe that Hector is a spoilt teen with no regard for rules, he does have a kind heart and even befriends a dog named Oveja while on a visit to an animal rescue center. Hector appears intent on working towards his freedom and becoming a better person. However, things go haywire once Oveja goes missing, and Hector, fraught with concern, breaks out of prison to search for the missing dog. Surprisingly, the 17-year-old’s loved ones support such a venture, and Hector, along with his brother, Isamel, and their grandmother, soon embarks on a road trip through the Spanish region of Cantabria. You can stream ‘Seventeen’ here .

7. The Trader (2018)

car road trip movie

As the title suggests, ‘The Trader’ (Georgian: ‘Sovdagari’) is a documentary that follows a poor traveling trader living in poverty and selling his wares in the rural Republic of Georgia. His travels take him to remote corners of the country and provide an authentic sneak peek into the daily lives of the people from that part of the region. The documentary even portrays previously unheard practices like using potatoes as the only unit of currency. For fans who are curious to know more about different cultures and people from around the globe, ‘The Trader’ will surely be an eye-opening experience. You can stream the film here .

6. Expedition Happiness (2017)

car road trip movie

Travel documentaries are a joy to sit through, and ‘Expedition Happiness’ satisfies every craving in that regard as it follows filmmaker Felix Starck and his then-girlfriend Selima Taibi on a road trip across North America. Felix and Selima originally hail from Berlin, Germany , but soon grew tired of the big city with its highrises, noisy traffic, and congestion. Thus, longing for fresh air, a change in scenery, and new experiences, the pair obtain and refurbish a school bus before setting out on an epic road trip across North America along with their dog. Filmed by the pair themselves, ‘Expedition Happiness’ provides a fresh take on North America and can easily be considered a must-watch. You may watch it here .

5. Dhak Dhak (2023)

car road trip movie

A Bollywood drama directed by Tarun Dudeja, ‘Dhak Dhak’ brings together four women from different social lifestyles and age groups. Together, they set off on a bike trip to Ladakh, India, a place that is considered the highest mountain pass in the world and can be reached by vehicle. The journey also becomes a spiritual one as each experience brings about new realizations, thereby adding to the meaning of life and what it means to be free. The film stars Dia Mirza, Ratna Pathak Shah, Fatima Sana Shaikh, and Sanjana Sanghi. You can watch it here .

4. 4L (2019)

car road trip movie

‘4L,’ known popularly as ‘4 latas’ in Spanish, revolves around Tocho, an alcoholic with bad manners, and Jean Pierre, a past womanizer who still reminisces about his glory days. The film opens with Tocho reading a letter that informs him about his old friend, Joseba, who is seemingly on his deathbed in Timbuktu. The letter makes Tocho realize what he has lost, and soon, he makes up his mind to meet his friend before his death. On top of it, the two also plan on taking Joseba’s estranged daughter, Ely, to her father. Interestingly, apart from agreeing to the trip at a moment’s notice, Ely even provides the men with an old 1982 Renault, the same car the three friends had once used to cross the desert. Thus, they embark on a massive road trip from Paris to Timbuktu while being surrounded by fond memories. Moreover, even though the experiences they have on the road change their outlook on life, the film ultimately teaches us the value of friendship, family, and love. You can watch ‘4L’ here .

3. Qarib Qarib Single (2017)

car road trip movie

A Hindi-language Bollywood feel-good rom-com directed by Tanuja Chandra, ‘Qarib Qarib Single’ stars Irrfan Khan and Parvathy Thiruvothu. When two strangers meet via an online dating platform, it’s usually a date that decides whether they will agree to go on further dates with each other. For Jaya (a 35-year-old widow) and Yogi (a not-that-famous poet), it is an adventure that decides it. After some humorous experiences, the two decide to go and visit Yogi’s three ex-girlfriends. Thus begins a memorable trip for our duo as well as for us. From Dehradun to Jaipur to Gangtok, the journey is full of humor, confusion, and humor-filled confusion and ends in a perfect manner. Stop guessing, as you can stream the film right here .

2. Paddleton (2019)

car road trip movie

A road trip meets the trip of life in this comedy-drama directed by Alexandre Lehmann. It tells the story of two misfits/neighbors/best friends, Michael and Andy, between whom Michael is diagnosed with terminal cancer . With six months to live, Michael, accompanied by a reluctant Andy, set off on a 6-hour drive to the nearest pharmacy that has the required meds. Their experiences during the journey, which throw light on their friendship and the reality of life in general, make ‘Paddleton’ an enriching road trip movie. The cast includes Mark Duplass as Michael, Ray Romano as Andy, Kadeem Hardison, Christine Woods, Stephen Oyoung, Marguerite Moreau, and Alana Carithers. Feel free to check out the movie here .

1. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)

car road trip movie

Directed by Zoya Akhtar, ‘ Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara ’ is an Indian Hindi-language movie that tells the story of three friends who come together after a long time when one of them gets engaged. The bachelor trip that follows folds out into a buffet of experiences, both physically and emotionally, as the lives of all three begin to reveal themselves. Pain, regret, fear, mistakes, love, happiness, and insecurities take center stage and address the title of the movie, which translates to ‘Life never happens twice.’ The cast includes Farhan Akhtar , Hrithik Roshan , and Abhay Deol as the three friends, along with Katrina Kaif , Kalki Koechlin , Naseeruddin Shah , and Deepti Naval. You may watch the film here .

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‘Cars on the Road’: Trailer, Release Date, Cast, and Everything We Know So Far

Life is a highway!

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Where and when can you stream cars on the road, can you stream cars on the road without disney+.

  • Is There a Trailer For Cars on the Road?

What Is Cars on the Road About?

How many episodes will cars on the road have, when did production begin on cars on the road, who's in the cast of cars on the road, more disney+ original series you can watch while you wait for cars on the road.

Fasten your seatbelts, because it’s about to get bumpy! From the creators of the beloved Cars movies now comes Cars on the Road , a new series following the titular characters from the original 2006 movie as they pack their bags and leave Radiator Springs to go on a cross-country trip. With Lightning McQueen and Mater hitting the stretched roads, expect nothing but sheer randomness and unexpected plot twists in their adventure. And hey, you might meet a couple of new faces (or cars or planes) along the way!

Spearheading this project is a lineup of acclaimed directors: Steve Purcell , Bobby Podesta , and Brian Fee . All three were involved in previous Cars projects. Cars on the Road is executive produced by Marc Sondheimer , who’s also done incredible work with Pixar, including films like the award-winning Coco . The series score is composed by Jake Monaco , the same person behind the music in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!

Keep an eye on this show (and the road!). Here’s everything we know so far about Cars on the Road.

Related: Every Pixar Movie Ranked from Worst to Best

You can stream Cars on the Road on Disney+. The series is set to premiere on September 8, 2022.

Unfortunately, no. The Pixar-produced series is only available on Disney+. The streaming platform is available on mobile devices, smart TVs, web browsers, set-top boxes, and even game consoles. To subscribe to Disney+, you can opt for the $7.99/month plan, or go ahead with the $79.99/year package.

Is There a Trailer For Cars on the Road ?

The trailer for Cars on the Road was released by Pixar on August 1, 2022. The trailer opens with our favorite, superstar racecar Lightning McQueen doing what he does best - drifting on the desert terrains outside the charming town of Radiator Springs. The trailer switches to Lightning McQueen and his tow truck buddy Mater driving side by side, with McQueen teasing him to a race. Mater, in all his cheekiness, declines the challenge, only to start speeding up and getting a head start.

Soon, we see our beloved Radiator Springs residents gathering around at Flo’s V8 Cafe. Mater announces that he won’t be in town for quite some time to go to his sister’s wedding (surprise, surprise!) McQueen suggests that he tags along. We see montages of the duo hitting the road and making quick stops at different attractions, including the World’s Largest Lugnut and a live dinosaur made out of car spare parts. Making new friends (and possibly enemies) along the trip, Cars on the Road is an electrifying journey through the most unorthodox places filled with hilariously spontaneous moments. But destinations aside, this good old-fashioned road trip highlights the very thing keeping this series brimming with joy and life: McQueen and Mater’s friendship.

Related: The 20 Best Car Movies of All Time

Cars on the Road is an upcoming series following Lightning McQueen and Mater on a road trip going east to attend a wedding, with Mater’s sister (that no one knows of) being the bride. True to Cars fashion, audiences can expect anthropomorphic talking vehicles popping up during their journey - some friendly, others questionable. The series shows the duo encountering random road trip shenanigans as they visit new locations and meet new characters. Who knows, you might even see a familiar face or two from previous Cars projects!

Cars on the Road will have a total of nine episodes, all of them released on the initial launch date.

Plans for Cars on the Road were announced on Disney Investors Day, held on December 10, 2020 . News regarding an animated series focusing on Lightning McQueen and Mater traveling the country was shared, and it was confirmed that it would be available for streaming in the fall of 2022. On the same day, the project also gave a heads up on the directors, producer, and writer of the show. On June 2, 2021, it was speculated that certain characters from the Cars spin-off movies Planes and Planes: Fire & Rescue will make an appearance in the series.

Owen Wilson is returning as Lightning McQueen, a professional race car in the Piston Cup who competes in the World Grand Prix in Cars 2 . McQueen had a stellar career until his retirement at the end of Cars 3 , taking on a mentor role to teach a new generation of race cars. Joining Wilson again is Larry the Cable Guy as Mater, a local tow truck with roots in Radiator Springs. McQueen originally doesn’t like Mater in the first Cars movie, but sure enough, they have become the best of friends.

Cars on the Road also features familiar faves, such as town attorney and McQueen’s love interest Sally Carrera ( Bonnie Hunt ). Cheech Marin makes a return as the stylish lowrider Ramone who never sticks to one paint job. Another character you can expect is Fillmore ( Lloyd Sherr ), the hippie Volkswagen. The show also introduces new vehicles in the mix, such as the monster truck Ivy voiced by Quinta Brunson of ABC’s Abbott Elementary .

Related: 10 Disney Movies Turning Old Enough To Drink This Year

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series : Inspired by the original High School Musical film, the series is a mockumentary taking place in a fictionalized version of East High School, which, you guessed it, is where the movie was filmed. The show narrates a group of teenagers slash theater enthusiasts auditioning for a production of High School Musical. With stars like Olivia Rodrigo , Joshua Bassett , and more, the show is filled to the brim with great songs and exceptional talent.

Baymax! : A spin-off of the Disney feature film Big Hero 6 , the team at Pixar now introduces a stand-alone show called Baymax! . True to its name, the show follows Baymax, a robot designed by Hiro’s late brother Tadashi, as he plays nurse and provides assistance to the city of San Fransokyo. Expect nothing but cuteness and wholesome goodness from the series.

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder : a reboot of Disney’s 2011 The Proud Family , the 2022 revival follows Penny Proud and her eccentric family. Penny, who’s now 16 and thriving, is currently living in the 2020s where smartphones and social media play a big factor in her life. Thrown into the mix are Trudy, Penny’s mom, who’s making big career moves; Oscar, Penny’s dad, whose dreams are getting wilder than ever; and the return of the loving yet intimidating Sugar Mama. And let’s not forget her iconic clique, Dijonay, LaCienega, Michael, and Zoey.

car road trip movie

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The Funniest Road Trip Comedy Movies

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There's something about the open road that continues to inspire hilarious comedies year after year. The best road trip movies are about the mishap-filled journey as much as the funny destination. This is a list of the top movies about road trips including everything from The Blues Brothers to Little Miss Sunshine to Borat . If you're planning on going on your own adventure, you might be interested in the best 2018 songs perfect for your road trip playlist .

What films will you find on this list of the best road trip movies? Dumb and Dumber  continues to make audiences laugh. Whether Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) are traveling by dog-car, scooter or Hawaiian Tropic bus, the result is pure hilarity. Vacation – starring Chevy Chase – is another classic road trip comedy.  Tommy Boy finds the dynamic duo of Chris Farley and David Spade traveling across the country on a mission to save the family business. Other good films featured on this best road trip movies list include Planes, Trains and Automobiles , Road Trip , and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle .

Which road trip movie do you think is the funniest? Give your favorites a thumbs up and please add any good films that are missing.

Tommy Boy

Tommy Boy presents Chris Farley in his prime as Thomas "Tommy" Callahan III, an incompetent heir to his late father's auto parts business, who embarks on a wild sales trip with straight-laced colleague Richard Hayden (David Spade). The unlikely duo's misadventures and epic mishaps make for a riotous road trip full of quotable lines and uproarious scenes that have solidified this film as a beloved comedy classic.

  • # 30 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 217 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 148 of 379 on The Best Movies Of The 1990s

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Planes, Trains and Automobiles delivers side-splitting humor with Steve Martin as Neal Page, an uptight advertising executive desperate to get home for Thanksgiving, and John Candy as Del Griffith, a chatty shower curtain ring salesman. The duo finds themselves stuck together on an outrageously chaotic journey filled with canceled flights, rental car disasters, and unlikely sleeping arrangements—a must-watch for fans of laugh-out-loud road trip comedies.

  • # 49 of 399 on The Best Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
  • # 13 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 225 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber showcases the hysterical journey of two dimwitted pals, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels), who embark on an epic cross-country trek to return a briefcase full of money to its rightful owner. With endless slapstick comedy and unforgettable one-liners, this classic film is sure to leave viewers in stitches as they witness these lovable fools face one ludicrous obstacle after another.

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  • # 35 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

Vacation

Vacation follows the Griswold family—led by bumbling patriarch Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase)—as they embark on a disastrous yet hysterical drive from Chicago to California's Walley World theme park. Featuring memorable comedic moments like Aunt Edna's untimely demise and Christie Brinkley's flirtatious Ferrari Girl character, this 1983 comedy remains an iconic piece of Americana that guarantees laughter from start to finish.

  • # 31 of 399 on The Best Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
  • # 10 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 163 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

We're the Millers

We're the Millers

In We're the Millers , a small-time drug dealer (Jason Sudeikis) recruits a stripper (Jennifer Aniston), a runaway teen (Emma Roberts), and their naive neighbor (Will Poulter) to pose as his wholesome family in order to smuggle drugs across the Mexican border. Hilarity ensues as this ragtag bunch of misfits navigates their way through a series of hilarious road trip mishaps, all while trying to maintain their fake-family façade.

  • # 278 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 29 of 93 on The 85+ Best Stoner Comedies Ever
  • # 37 of 89 on The Most Rewatchable Comedy Movies

The Blues Brothers

The Blues Brothers

The Blues Brothers features John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues, two brothers who reunite their blues band in order to save the orphanage they grew up in. This 1980 musical comedy is packed with high-speed car chases, legendary cameos by artists such as Aretha Franklin and James Brown, and unforgettable tunes that will leave you singing "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" long after the credits roll.

  • # 5 of 64 on The Best Movies Of 1980
  • # 48 of 399 on The Best Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
  • # 16 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

Kingpin

Kingpin introduces us to Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson), a washed-up former pro bowler with a prosthetic hand who teams up with Amish bowling prodigy Ishmael Boorg (Randy Quaid) in hopes of winning a million-dollar tournament. This Farrelly brothers' comedy strikes the perfect balance between slapstick humor and heartwarming moments as Roy and Ishmael navigate their way through an absurd series of events, all while trying to avoid the vengeful wrath of pro bowler Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray).

  • # 184 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 52 of 207 on The Best Sports Movies Ever Made
  • # 15 of 117 on The Best Movies Of 1996

Road Trip

In Road Trip , college student Josh Parker (Breckin Meyer) accidentally mails his long-distance girlfriend Tiffany Henderson (Rachel Blanchard) a videotape meant for another girl. With his motley crew of friends in tow—including Seann William Scott as the raucous E.L.—Josh embarks on a madcap journey to retrieve the tape before it's too late, encountering zany situations and uproarious mishaps that make for a hilarious cinematic ride.

  • # 512 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 320 of 632 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time
  • # 10 of 71 on The 70 Best College Movies

Joe Dirt

David Spade's lovable loser embarks on a quest to find his long-lost parents, encountering a slew of eccentric characters along the way. This offbeat road comedy celebrates the power of resilience and self-discovery in the face of adversity.

  • # 35 of 113 on The Best Movies Of 2001
  • # 499 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 221 of 632 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle follows best friends Harold Lee (John Cho) and Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) on their quest for late-night munchies—specifically those delicious sliders from White Castle. Along the way, they encounter eccentric characters like Neil Patrick Harris playing a drug-addled version of himself, resulting in gut-busting hilarity that has made this stoner comedy a cult favorite.

  • # 311 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 5 of 93 on The 85+ Best Stoner Comedies Ever
  • # 34 of 99 on The Best Movies Of 2004, Ranked

Rat Race

A modern-day twist on the classic madcap chase film, this comedy features an ensemble cast, including John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson, competing in a wild race to find a hidden fortune. Hilarity ensues as each character encounters outrageous obstacles and colorful opponents along their frantic journey.

  • # 551 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 36 of 113 on The Best Movies Of 2001
  • # 357 of 632 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time

Midnight Run

Midnight Run

Midnight Run stars Robert De Niro as Jack Walsh, a bounty hunter tasked with bringing accountant Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas (Charles Grodin) back to Los Angeles after he embezzled millions from the mob. As they traverse the country avoiding mobsters and the FBI alike, their comedic banter makes for an entertaining ride rife with unexpected twists and turns, elevating this action-comedy into an absolute must-watch.

  • # 240 of 399 on The Best Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
  • # 387 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 279 of 308 on The 295+ Best Movies For Guys

Pee-wee's Big Adventure

Pee-wee's Big Adventure

Paul Reubens brings his iconic character to life in this whimsical adventure across America in search of his stolen bicycle. Pee-wee's innocent charm and imaginative spirit make this road trip comedy a timeless classic.

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  • # 234 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 154 of 399 on The Best Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

Mr. Bean's Holiday

Mr. Bean's Holiday

Rowan Atkinson's beloved character embarks on a trip to the French Riviera, where he inadvertently creates chaos at every turn. The film combines slapstick humor with picturesque European settings, making for a light-hearted, visually appealing road trip adventure.

  • # 417 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 27 of 102 on The Best British Comedy Movies
  • # 313 of 632 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time

Due Date

Robert Downey Jr .'s uptight architect and Zach Galifianakis' eccentric aspiring actor form an unlikely duo in this raucous journey across America. The film keeps viewers laughing while showcasing the transformative power of friendship and personal growth during unexpected detours.

  • # 65 of 93 on The 85+ Best Stoner Comedies Ever
  • # 534 of 632 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time
  • # 5 of 32 on Blockbusters With No Cultural Impact Whatsoever, Ranked

RV

Robin Williams stars as a well-intentioned father who takes his family on a disastrous RV trip, leading to a series of comedic mishaps and unexpected encounters. The film showcases Williams's comedic genius while reminding us of the importance of family connection amidst the chaos.

  • # 24 of 50 on The Best Movies About Men Raising Kids
  • # 10 of 26 on The Funniest Movies About Parenting
  • # 25 of 76 on The Best Father's Day Movies

Wild Hogs

Four middle-aged friends, played by Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy, hit the open road on motorcycles, seeking adventure and escape from their mundane lives. The film's blend of slapstick comedy and heartfelt moments make it a fun and relatable portrayal of friendship and rediscovering one's passion.

  • # 145 of 191 on The Best Movies For Men
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It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

This classic 1963 comedy is undoubtedly a memorable road trip comedy, featuring a star-studded cast racing to find buried treasure. From roadside mishaps to comedic misunderstandings, this film set the standard for the chaos and hilarity that characterize the best road trip comedies.

  • # 71 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 660 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 29 of 167 on The Greatest '60s Movies, Ranked

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine

This heartwarming and quirky indie film follows a dysfunctional family as they travel together in a rickety VW bus to support their young daughter in a beauty pageant. With complex characters and emotional depth, this comedy proves that even the most unconventional journeys can lead to profound personal growth and familial bonds.

  • # 378 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 675 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 2 of 70 on Great Quirky Movies for Grown-Ups

Vacation

When a family attempts to recreate a memorable road trip from their childhood, hilarity ensues in this reboot of the classic comedy. Ed Helms and Christina Applegate's pitch-perfect performances keep audiences laughing through every twist and turn.

  • # 10 of 13 on 13 Times Movies Used CGI For Absolutely No Good Reason
  • # 57 of 66 on The 65 Best Slapstick Comedies
  • # 98 of 133 on The Best R-Rated Comedies

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Sacha Baron Cohen's mockumentary-style comedy follows the unforgettable character Borat as he travels across America to learn about its culture. The film is both shocking and hilarious, as Cohen's outrageous antics expose cultural divides and challenge societal norms.

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  • # 165 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 33 of 61 on The Funniest Movies About Politics

Sex Drive

This raunchy comedy follows a group of friends on a cross-country journey to lose their virginity, resulting in outrageous escapades and hilarious misadventures. The film masterfully combines crude humor with genuine heart, making it a memorable addition to the road trip genre.

  • # 21 of 22 on The Most Important 'Firsts' In Film History
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  • # 258 of 286 on The 250+ Best Teenage Movies Of All Time

The Bucket List

The Bucket List

Despite its somber premise, this film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman is surprisingly uplifting, as two terminally ill men embark on a road trip to complete their bucket list. Through laughter and shared experiences, the film reminds us of the importance of living life to the fullest and cherishing the connections we make along the way.

  • # 301 of 308 on The 295+ Best Movies For Guys
  • # 25 of 30 on 30 Words And Phrases You Might Not Realize Originated From A Movie Or TV Show
  • # 54 of 90 on The 85+ Most Inspirational Movies Of All Time

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Kevin Smith's iconic slacker characters hit the road in this irreverent comedy, on a mission to sabotage the Hollywood adaptation of their comic book alter egos. The film delivers non-stop laughs and clever pop culture references, making it a must-see for fans of Smith's unique brand of humor.

  • # 404 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 605 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 29 of 113 on The Best Movies Of 2001

Identity Thief

Identity Thief

Melissa McCarthy shines as a brazen con artist, leading Jason Bateman's character on a wild chase to clear his name. The film cleverly balances slapstick humor with heartfelt moments, illustrating the unlikely relationships that can develop on the road.

  • # 40 of 57 on The 50+ Best Movies About Con Artists
  • # 47 of 64 on The Funniest Crime Parodies and Spoof Movies, Ranked
  • # 46 of 67 on Great Movies About Male-Female Friendships

Sideways

Wine connoisseurs and comedy lovers alike will appreciate this critically acclaimed film about two friends on a wine-tasting road trip through California. The film's sharp wit, engaging characters, and beautiful scenery create a humorous yet introspective journey of self-discovery.

  • # 455 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 199 of 675 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars
  • # 36 of 99 on The Best Movies Of 2004, Ranked

College Road Trip

College Road Trip

Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symoné star in this family-friendly comedy about a father-daughter duo road-tripping to visit colleges. The film is a lighthearted reminder of the challenges and joys of letting go and embracing life's transitions.

  • # 105 of 123 on The Funniest Black Movies Ever Made
  • # 269 of 472 on The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
  • # 17 of 23 on The Funniest Movies About College

Paper Moon

This classic road trip comedy set during the Great Depression pairs a charming con man with a precocious young girl, played by real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. Their adventures and evolving bond create a touching and timeless story filled with humor and heart.

  • # 183 of 675 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars
  • # 82 of 199 on The Best Movies Of The '70s, Ranked
  • # 4 of 12 on 12 Projects That Were Just Excuses For Actors To Work With Their Kids

Bad Grandpa

Bad Grandpa

Johnny Knoxville brings his signature outrageous stunts and pranks to this hidden camera comedy, playing an elderly man on a road trip with his young grandson. The film pushes the boundaries of taste while showcasing the undeniable bond between the two characters.

  • # 547 of 632 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time
  • # 92 of 136 on The Best Bromance Movies
  • # 13 of 16 on 16 R-Rated Comedies That Were More Successful Than We Realized

Are We There Yet

Are We There Yet

Ice Cube stars in this family comedy as a man attempting to win over his girlfriend's children by driving them across the country to visit their mother. The film offers a humorous take on the challenges of blended families and the unexpected bonds that can form on the road.

  • # 513 of 703 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 56 of 123 on The Funniest Black Movies Ever Made
  • # 163 of 472 on The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
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10 iconic american road trip movies.

national lampoon

National Lampoon

There is something uniquely American about the idea of hitting the open road and driving endlessly through changing landscapes, either toward the promise of something better or as an escape from real or imagined oppression. While running the gamut from liberating to terrifying, American road trip films share a common thread: through the act of driving, there is the opportunity for discovery. Characters often find something new about themselves, others, or some greater principle or purpose.

CoPilot researched the history of road trip cinema and chose 10 of the best, most iconic films in which people drive across the U.S. To qualify, the film had to have over a 7.0 on IMDb , at least 75,000 votes, and largely be framed through an American road trip. Metascore is provided for critical context.

Some road films reveal that running away is futile or even cowardly, while others crystalize the fact that we cannot outrun the consequences of our actions even if we drive forever. At the same time, the genre reminds us that there is great potential in removing ourselves from the monotony or comfort of everyday life—that the act of leaving can be a powerful assertion of agency.

The history and diversity of American road trip films span decades and generations and encompass countless genres. From the lawlessness and violence of “Natural Born Killers” to the horror of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and even the bittersweet optimism of “Little Miss Sunshine,” road trip films reflect the politics and sense of national identity of their time and place.

Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda riding motorcycles on the highway in the desert.

Pando Company Inc.

Easy Rider (1969)

- Director: Dennis Hopper

- IMDb user rating: 7.3

- Metascore: 85

- Runtime: 95 minutes

“Easy Rider” stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as bikers who smuggle drugs from Mexico into California, sell them, and head eastward to New Orleans trying to make it in time for Mardi Gras. They stash their money near the gas tank of the “Captain America”—a custom-made motorcycle with a signature long front end—ridden by Fonda’s character. Along the way, they stop at a commune in Arizona and find trouble in New Mexico, where they encounter a drunken lawyer, played by Jack Nicholson, who they convince to join them.

Produced on a mere $360,000 budget, “Easy Rider” is remembered as a film that captures the feeling of late-’60s counterculture, complete with hallucinogenic trips, a free-love commune, and a soundtrack studded with The Band, The Byrds, and Jimi Hendrix. Its legacy is also one of subverting the mainstream Hollywood studio system. Its unprecedented commercial success—grossing $60 million globally on a small budget—as well as its indie status, stunned Hollywood executives.

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Young people riding in a van on a roadtrip.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

- Director: Tobe Hooper

- IMDb user rating: 7.4

- Metascore: 78

- Runtime: 83 minutes

“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” changed the horror film genre, and American filmmaking more generally, in profound ways. Aside from inspiring nine films in the franchise, it pioneered the slasher genre while showing surprisingly little blood and gore, relying instead on clever camera work and misdirection to suggest horrific images. Filmmakers including Ridley Scott, Wes Craven, and Guillermo del Toro count the film amongst their favorites. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” takes aspects of the traditional road trip film, beginning with the group of idealistic young people piled into a car, and quickly turns the viewer’s expectations into a nightmare.

The film follows a group of friends who take a road trip through rural Texas to visit a family member’s gravesite but are forced to stop when their car runs out of gas. Early signs of danger include a violent encounter with a hitchhiker, and when they stop at a quiet gas station only to find out the pumps are empty. Terror builds when they come across Leatherface, the now-legendary chainsaw-wielding villain who wears a mask made of human skin.

The Griswold family waving in front of their packed up station wagon

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

- Director: Harold Ramis

- Metascore: 55

- Runtime: 98 minutes

Road comedy “National Lampoon’s Vacation” follows the Griswold family, led by patriarch Clark (Chevy Chase), as they embark on a road trip from Chicago to a southern California amusement park. The trip, a bid to spend more time together as a family and enjoy a picturesque vacation, quickly goes awry. Driving a large, ugly station wagon, the family experiences countless misadventures along the way.

The station wagon used in the film, known as the Wagon Queen Family Truckster , was specifically designed as a parody of 1970s station wagons, complete with faux-wood paneling and a “metallic pea”-colored paint job. Five identical cars were produced for the film, due to the extent of the mishaps experienced by the family.

A man and a little boy eat fast food in the back of a pickup truck under an overpass.

Road Movies Filmproduktion

Paris, Texas (1984)

- Director: Wim Wenders

- IMDb user rating: 8.0

- Runtime: 145 minutes

After emerging from the Texas desert unable to speak or explain where he came from, Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) is rescued by a German doctor. The doctor contacts Travis’ estranged brother (Dean Stockwell), who then drives from L.A. to pick him up. When they return to California, Travis meets his young son, who has been adopted by his brother, and they decide to embark on a journey to find his son’s mother.

Traveling from southern California to Houston in a classic blue and white ’58 Ford Ranchero, the two reconcile. Passing through desert landscapes, past old road motels and neon signs, the aesthetics of “Paris, Texas” are part-Western, part Edward Hopper Americana.

THE 10 MOST RELIABLE AMERICAN CARS

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Tom Cruise driving a car with Valeria Golino in the passenger seat.

United Artists

Rain Man (1988)

- Director: Barry Levinson

- Metascore: 65

- Runtime: 133 minutes

“Rain Man” tells the story of Charlie (Tom Cruise), a young hustler who discovers he has a brother, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), after his father dies and leaves Raymond his lucrative estate. Charlie travels to Ohio and finds that Raymond is an autistic savant who has been institutionalized. In an attempt to gain control of the money from their father’s estate, Charlie kidnaps Raymond from the institution. The two embark on a road trip from Cincinnati to Los Angeles,  where Charlie plans to fight for custody of his brother, in their father’s 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible.

The film’s enduring legacy is complicated : While it was groundbreaking for its representation of a character with autism, some have called its portrayal of autism spectrum disorder reductive or stereotypical.

Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon and Brad Pitt in a convertible

Pathé Entertainment

Thelma & Louise (1991)

- Director: Ridley Scott

- IMDb user rating: 7.5

- Metascore: 88

- Runtime: 130 minutes

“Thelma & Louise” stars Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis as two best friends who depart their unsatisfying home lives in Arkansas for a weekend away, only to become fugitives on the run from the law. The two head in the direction of Mexico in Louise’s 1966 blue Ford Thunderbird convertible, hoping to cross the border and evade capture by the FBI. Louise insists they avoid driving through Texas, so they take a meandering route west, traveling through New Mexico and the Grand Canyon.

“Thelma & Louise” remains a landmark film in feminist cinema for its politics, exploration of gendered violence, centering on a best-friend relationship, and for subverting several genres: the Western, the road film, the buddy film, and the crime drama. Davis and Sarandon both received Best Actress Oscar nominations for their co-starring roles.

Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis lit up in all red smiling in a convertible.

Warner Bros.

Natural Born Killers (1994)

- Director: Oliver Stone

- IMDb user rating: 7.2

- Metascore: 74

- Runtime: 119 minutes

Starring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as a murderous married couple, “Natural Born Killers” grapples with the way mass violence and its perpetrators are given celebrity status by the media.

The film follows the couple as they go on a multi-state killing spree, traveling from New Mexico to Arizona and Nevada, all the while attracting media attention that turns them into macabre cult heroes. Featuring a red 1970 Dodge Challenger convertible, the film subverts the often family-friendly conventions of the road trip movie while incorporating images of Western landscapes to remind viewers it is a particularly American story. The film sparked controversy over its gratuitous violence, and director Oliver Stone was sued when the film allegedly inspired copycat crimes (the suit was later dismissed).

An old man in a cowboy hat riding a John Deere lawnmower on the highway.

Asymmetrical Productions

The Straight Story (1999)

- Director: David Lynch

- Metascore: 86

- Runtime: 112 minutes

Based on a true story, “The Straight Story” follows Alvin (Richard Farnsworth), an elderly Iowa man who decides to visit his estranged brother after he has a stroke. Unable to drive, Alvin hitches a trailer to his lawnmower and embarks on a journey to Wisconsin. Only able to travel at five miles per hour, the journey takes several weeks and involves a series of mishaps and connections made with other long-term travelers and passersby.

“The Straight Story” was filmed along the actual route that the real Alvin Straight took on his original journey. Farnsworth, who died by suicide one year after the film’s release, had been suffering from cancer that left his legs partially paralyzed during the filming of “The Straight Story.” He received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for the role.

Two men in a Saab convertible drive through wine country.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Sideways (2004)

- Director: Alexander Payne

- Metascore: 94

- Runtime: 127 minutes

“Sideways” stars Paul Giamatti as Miles, an unsuccessful writer who brings his friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a road trip to California wine country as a final adventure before Jack gets married. Traveling up the coast of California in a bright red ’87 Saab Turbo convertible, the two men experience a range of mishaps leading up to Jack’s wedding ceremony.

The film, which centers largely around Miles’ obsession with wine (particularly pinot noir), has been credited with influencing the California wine industry. As of 2017, production of California pinot noir wine had increased by 170% since the film’s release—a trend winemakers labeled “the Sideways Effect.”

THE BEST USED LUXURY CARS ON THE MARKET

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A family bursting out of a yellow VW van with the door on the ground.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

- Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

- IMDb user rating: 7.8

- Metascore: 80

- Runtime: 101 minutes

Starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, and Abigail Breslin as members of a dysfunctional family, “Little Miss Sunshine” tells the story of Olive (Abigail Breslin), a young girl and aspiring beauty queen trying to get to a beauty pageant in order to compete.

Based in New Mexico, her large family—including her parents, grandfather, uncle, and half-brother—travels 800 miles in a yellow VW bus to reach southern California for the competition that is just two days away. Along the way, issues with the bus, as well as personal trials and misadventures, bring the family together in unexpected ways. Breslin earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress at just age 10.

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Family Road Trip Guru

No stress. Spend less. Travel success.

car road trip movie

20 Best Family Trip Movies

Ready for a great family road trip or a long distance flight? No matter where the road takes you, if the trip is longer than an hour you will, probably, hear lots of complaining if you travel with kids. So what do you do to entertain your family and keep your sanity? I always have some great family trip movies on hand.

What are the best family road trip movies? In my mind those are the movies that actually tell a story about a road trip, a family vacation or may be just a memorable trip that keeps your kids happy for about 1,5 – 2 hours. Those are the movies that are great to watch with the entire family even off the road and have some laughs together.

Below is my list of 20 best family trip movies that we love. This article may include affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I use this money to support the blog and bring more interesting and helpful information to my readers.

Best family trip movies for younger kids

To me the story of “Cars” is the ultimate family road trip movie because it takes place along the iconic Route 66 that goes from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. The movie depicts many landmarks of the Mother Road, as Route 66 often being referred to. “Cars” is a story of adventures of one fancy racing car stuck in a small town along Route 66, which he hates at first, that is before he makes friends and falls in love with the place. This movie s great for a Southwest family road trip .

car road trip movie

2. Finding Nemo / Finding Dory

“Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory” are both great family trip type movies, but out of the two I prefer Finding Dory for a family road trip because it shows the real California landmark that we love – Monterey Bay Aquarium located in the town of Monterey along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. “Finding Dory” is a story of a funny and forgetful tropical fish from the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef that gets captured by humans and the plight of her true friends to find her. This is a perfect movie for a Pacific Coast Highway family road trip .

car road trip movie

“Up” has got to be one of my most favorite movies of all times, not just family trip movies. And, of course, this story is about a trip, a travel dream that finally turns into reality. Two unlikely companions: an old gentlemen and a boy scout, travel to South America in a house pulled up by balloons. It is a heartwarming story that our whole family loves.

car road trip movie

4. Homeward Bound : The Incredible Journey

The title of this movie already hints that is an “incredible” family trip movie. It is incredible in many respects: from the great scenery to unending adventures to the fact that it is a story of a furry family journey – two dogs and a cat, trying to reunite with their human family. This movie is perfect for a family road trip in Sierra Nevada mountains since this is where the main characters travel.

car road trip movie

5. Madagascar

The next few movies on this list of best family trip movies take you on fun adventures in various exotic locations around the world. Adventures cannot get more outlandish and exotic as the ones taking place in “Madagascar” movies. When 4 friends from New York’s Central Park Zoo (a zebra, a lion, a hippo and a giraffe) unexpectedly find themselves in Africa it makes for a very unpredictable trip scenario.

car road trip movie

The dreams of travel to South America in general and Brazil specifically come true in the Rio movies. Fun, unique, with some unexpected twists, these movies follow the lives and love stories of two humans and two parrots. Add some cool upbeat Latin music and you get an great movie for any family trip. The second movie in the series is more focused on the “family” aspect.

car road trip movie

Who doesn’t like a family trip to Hawaii ? I mean, seriously! You just cannot go wrong with this movie. Granted, the trip that a certain Hawaiian princess and a demi-God (who knew that there was such a thing?) take together to save the Hawaiian Islands is not on the road but on (in, under) the Pacific Ocean but this makes this whole family travel movie so much more exciting.

car road trip movie

8. Hotel Transylvania 3

Vampires and other monsters have families too and they need a vacation from time to time, like the rest of us. And when they need a vacation they decide to take a family trip together. If you are a fan of Hotel Transylvania characters then you will love their crazy adventures on a cruise ship with all their kids, relatives and friends. Even though it is the third installment in the series it has not lost its one of a kind humor and quirky charm which makes it a hilarious family travel movie.

car road trip movie

9. Alvin and the Chipmunks Chipwrecked

This is another cruise ship based movie. Well, it starts on the cruise ship but then, due to some mishaps, the chipmunks crew finds itself on a (seemingly) deserted island. May be in our eyes the chipmunks’ music band is not technically a “family” but I have a feeling they might disagree with you. In any case it is funny family trip movie that will definitely keep your little ones glued to the screen.

car road trip movie

10 . The Croods

The journey that the Croods make in this movie is the most hilarious of them all. Three generations of the Croods family are forced to take a trip together into the unknown to safe themselves from some wild cataclysms that were happening on the planet thousands of years ago. If you think traveling with a bunch of kids is a recipe for a hilarious disaster, add an opinionated grandma to the mix and some very wild pets and you got yourself a perfect family trip movie.

car road trip movie

11. Ice Age: Continental Drift

This movie definitely has two main components to firmly put it on the list of my favorite family road trip movies: families and an incredible trip. May be not a conventional family, and not a conventional trip but what makes this movie one of the best family road trip movies is the fact that it sheds light on all the calamities of traveling as a family: from dealing with teenagers seeking independence to keeping a vigilant eye on elderly relatives who may also get into trouble from time to time.

car road trip movie

Best family trip movies for older kids and teens

“RV” is my most favorite family travel movie featuring Chicago to Colorado road trip. If the title of it is not enough of a giveaway, it a quintessential family road trip movie with all the laughs and troubles and unexpected surprises of a good old family vacation. Robin Williams shines, as usual, in the title role and the supporting cast is splendid as well. It makes me want to rent an RV and travel across the country.

car road trip movie

13. National Lampoon’s Vacation

You either love or hate the National Lampoon’s. There is no middle ground. Our family belongs to their fan club and so we don’t spend a vacation when we don’t watch one of the National Lampoons’ vacation adventures, be it in the U.S. or in Europe. The original movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation” is the perfect family road trip movie that takes you on a journey from Chicago to California with lots of curiosities and calamities in between.

car road trip movie

14. Mr. Bean’s Holiday

If you like peculiar British humor and Mr. Bean in particular then you will enjoy this fun family travel movie. Mr. Bean does not have a family but in a manner only known to Mr. Bean, he manages to turn a solo train trip to Cannes, France into a hitchhiking/road trip with a child, who is not even HIS. Let’s put it this way: you can safely call Mr. Bean Britain’s National Lampoon.

car road trip movie

15. The Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors is an excellent family trip movie because it not only has the regular “family + trip” formula, it has camping and obnoxious in-laws added into the mix. A big dysfunctional family at the heart of the movie and some wild outdoors misfortunes guarantee you lots of laughs. This is a perfect movie for a family road trip in Wisconsin because this is where all the action takes place.

car road trip movie

16. Cheaper by the Dozen 2

If you think taking a vacation with 2, 3, 4 kids is hard – try 12! This is yet another great family trip movie taking place in Wisconsin. There is not much of a road trip per say in this movie as the family spends most of their vacation in a house on a lake but there is LOTs of interpersonal relationship issues since there are fourteen different personalities in this family and the parents need to balance everybody’s wants and needs. Oh, and did I mention that there is also a healthy competition with another big family going on here?

car road trip movie

17. Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties

Cat lovers – you are in for a great treat! Dog lovers – you will definitely have a laugh too. This movie is about traveling with your pet abroad and not just A pet, a smirky, cynical but very smart TALKING cat (Garfield) and trusting, loving but NOT TALKING dog (Odie). The action takes place in the UK and who would have thought that there is Garfield’s “identical twin” on the British Isles? It is one of the best comedic family travel movies that I have seen and hence, it earned its place on my list of best family trip movies.

car road trip movie

18. Around the World in 80 Days

“Around the World in 80 Days” showcases a perfect adventure for your family road trip movie list. It is based on a classic novel by Jules Verne. If you can read the book as well – do it, it is so much more than the movie. But the movie in itself is a very good travel companion. There is no classic “family” aspect to it per say, but definitely LOTS of travel, surprises, humor and martial arts by incomparable Jackie Chan.

car road trip movie

Best family trip movies for holiday travel

19. home alone 2: lost in new york.

In my mind there is no better movie for a family trip during Christmas time than Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It is a holiday staple, there is just no Christmas without it. Parents all around the world can relate to the conundrum of holiday travel. Though not all of us would lose a child in transit, most of us are very close to losing our heads during this time of year. This is a hilarious Christmas movie classic comedy that you would want to watch every year.

And if you are looking for a fantastic Christmas vacation itinerary – I have a bunch on my blog.

car road trip movie

20. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Travelling during Thanksgiving can be no less hectic and stressful here in the U.S. than Christmas travel. And this family trip movie is a testament to that. This is a good old fashioned comedy about a businessman who is trying to get home for Thanksgiving and in addition to all the travel calamities he is stuck with an unwelcome travel companion.

car road trip movie

Equipment you may needed

To watch these awesome family trip movies we take a portable DVD Player with us. If you don’t have an entertainment system built in your car you will find this device super helpful as it has long lasting battery, headrest mount and it is region FREE, so you can watch ANY DVDs from ANY country:

car road trip movie

If you have more than one kid who wants to watch the movie during the road trip, you will need a DVD player mount that fits between the seats, in the middle of the car, so that everybody on the back seat could see the movie without fighting:

car road trip movie

What films would you add to this list of best family trip movies? Let me know in the comments below! And hey, feel free to take these movies on board a plane or train as well – they are great for any sort of family travel.

If you found this article about best family trip movies helpful, please, be kind and share it with others as it may help them with their travel plans. Stay in touch by subscribing to our Instagram where you can find more helpful travel tips and ideas.

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2 thoughts on “20 Best Family Trip Movies”

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Hands down our family’s favorite vacation movies are…the “Vacation” franchise. We would add “Vegas Vacation” to the list. My hubby repeated the “dam tour” of the spiel when we visited Hoover Dam. Great list!

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Oh yes, that one is a classic! We visited the “Dam” too but didn’t take the “dam tour” 🙂

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Cars on the Road

September 8, 2022

Action, Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family

Pixar Animation Studios returns to the world of “Cars” with the all-new original series “Cars on the Road.” Episodes follow Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and his best friend Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) as they head east from Radiator Springs on a cross-country road trip to meet up with Mater’s sister. Along the way, every stop is its own adventure, with outrageous roadside attractions and colorful new characters. Directed by Steve Purcell, Bobby Podesta and Brian Fee and produced by Marc Sondheimer, all episodes of “Cars on the Road” begin streaming on Disney+ Day, September 8, only on Disney+.

Rated: TV-G Release Date: September 8, 2022

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Produced by.

Rated TV G

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11 Best Road Trips Movies of All Time

road trip movies cover art

Nov 9, 2020

See recent posts by Katja Gaskell

If your next family vacation in the car , requires some in-seat entertainment, watch one of these road trip movies  on a tablet or portable DVD player (yes, they still exist!). Or go on the adventure of a lifetime without ever leaving your couch! Sometimes we like to travel from the comfort of our own homes, and  road trip movies make that both possible and enjoyable. Plus, you don’t have the kids asking “ are we nearly there yet? ”! From old-school movies that you probably watched as a kid to modern-day animations, these 11 road trip movies will make you laugh, cry, and inspire you to book your next family vacation!

1. National Lampoon’s Vacation

National Lampoon’s Vacation

The king of road trip movies has to be National Lampoon’s Vacation . This cross-country caper starring Chevy Chase might look a little dated, but it’s as funny today as it was when it first came out in 1983. In this movie, the Griswold family, led by an ever-optimistic Clark and his long-suffering wife, Ellen, decided to drive from Chicago to California to visit Walley World. No sooner do they hit the road in their station wagon when disaster strikes. They get lost, they pick up an extra passenger (Aunt Edna and her dog), there’s a robbery and, when they finally arrive at the fabled theme park, it’s closed.

Related: This Way to Walley World: 3 Ways to Recreate a Griswold Vacation

2. Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo

The best road trip movie that has nothing to do with cars has to be Finding Nemo . This Disney Pixar movie about the young clownfish Nemo and his sidekick, Dory, is a heart-warming and funny adventure movie underwater. Nemo escapes from the dentist’s aquarium, battles the open ocean, encounters many a dangerous sea creature—and plenty of friendly ones, too—and is eventually reunited with his dad. It’s a wonderful tale of friendship and believing in yourself.

3. Little Miss Sunshine

Undoubtedly one of the best road trip movies on Amazon Prime is Little Miss Sunshine . The story focuses on seven-year-old Olive and her dream of winning the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. In order to make this dream come true, her dysfunctional family sets off in an old VW van on a road trip from Albuquerque to California. Misadventures and mishaps take place along the way, largely owing to the families’ own quirks and neuroses. It’s sad, it’s funny, and will ultimately make you realize the importance of family—even if they drive you crazy sometimes.

Related: U.S. Road Trips Kids Should Experience Before They Grow Up  

4. Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Another oldie but goodie road trip movie is the 1987 Planes, Trains and Automobiles . Led by Steve Martin and John Candy, this movie follows the trials and tribulations of advertising executive Neal Page, who’s trying to fly home to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with his family. Unfortunately, a sudden snowstorm forces his plane to land in Wichita. This results in a three-day road trip with Del Griffith, a shower curtain ring salesman who appears, initially, to be the worst kind of travel companion.

5. The Muppet Movie

The Muppet Movie

When Kermit is approached by a talent scout, he dreams of making it big in Hollywood and sets off to seek fame, fortune and the chance to make “millions of people happy.” No sooner does our froggy friend leave his Florida swamp, however, when he is pursued by Doc Hopper, who wants him to be a spokesperson for the fried frog legs at his restaurant chain. Along the way, Kermit meets Fozzie, Gonzo and Miss Piggy, who help him escape Doc Hopper’s clutches and eventually make it to Hollywood. The Muppet Movie is a fun, family-friendly road trip movie that will have everyone laughing out loud.

6. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

If only every real-life road trip could be in a car like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang . This wonderful tale of the eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts and his incredible flying car is still a popular road trip movie today, even more than half a century after it was first released. At a seaside picnic one day, Potts tells his two children a fanciful tale of a far-off land, ruled by the evil Baron Bomburst. Off the family go in their magical flying—and self-driving—car to save their grandfather from the tyrannical leader of the fictional land, Vulgaria.

Cars 2

Some people might argue that Cars 2 is not as good as the first movie, but we say this cartoon adventure is excellent, and one of the best road trip movies around. In this escapade, Lightning McQueen and his tow-truck buddy, Mater, head overseas for the first-ever World Grand Prix. While McQueen gets serious about the race, Mater gets caught up in an international spy conspiracy that takes him—and the story—to Tokyo, London , Paris , and the newly invented Italian town of Porto Corsa. The animation is stunning, the jokes and one-liners are funny, and there’s a good moral about looking out for your friends, too.

8. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

Prepare to have your heartstrings pulled in this lovely tale of three pets searching for their masters. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is one of the best road trip movies on Amazon Prime and tells the tale of Shadow, a wise golden retriever; Chance, a lively American bulldog puppy, and Sassy, a weight-conscious Himalayan Cat. The trio is placed in a Californian ranch when their owners are transferred for work to San Francisco . No one is happy about the arrangement, however, and they soon set off in search of their family. It’s an adventure that’s filled with excitement, surprises, and more than one nail-biting encounter.

9. College Road Trip

College Road Trip

This is the perfect road trip movie for any parent who’s struggling with the idea of their children growing up. Independent Melanie Porter can’t wait to go on her girls-only road trip to check out colleges. The only trouble is, her overprotective father, James. When he decides to tag along, mishaps and misadventures ensue. Her brother—and his pet pig—stow away in the trunk, James borrows and totals a police car, and later crashes a hotel wedding. College Road Trip  is a fun story about growing up and letting go.

10. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

The funniest castaways on-screen are back in this madcap adventure to Africa. In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa , Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria attempt to return to New York , but their plane crash lands in Africa, where more zany shenanigans follow. Alex is reunited with his parents, Marty finds a herd of Zebra who look and sound like him, Melman becomes the local witch doctor and Gloria falls (temporarily) head-over-heals with the smooth-talking hippo, Moto Moto. The penguins provide the biggest belly laughs in this cartoon caper that parents will love just as much as kids.

11. Mr. Bean’s Holiday

Mr. Bean’s Holiday

Hilarious hijinks prevail when the bumbling Mr. Bean attempts to go on holiday in the south of France in Mr. Bean’s Holiday . Having won a trip to Cannes, he sets off only to find that nothing goes according to plan. He unwittingly separates a young boy from his father and spends the rest of the movie trying to reunite them. Along the way, there are cultural misunderstandings, unfortunate coincidences, language problems, and much more. It’s very silly but guaranteed to make you laugh.

Related: Road Trip Hacks Every Family Needs

Katja Gaskell is a travel writer and family travel blogger based in London, U.K. after 12 years on the road in Australia, India and Mexico. She has written guidebooks for Lonely Planet, reviewed hotels for the British boutique hotel site Mr & Mrs Smith and has contributed articles to publications including BBC Food, Angels & Urchins, Lonely Planet online and more. She is also the European Editor of Twist Travel Magazine. Katja is a firm believer that you can – and should! – travel with your kids everywhere. Find Katja on her own site globetotting.com  and on Instagram @globetotting . 

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Organic Donegal Sweater

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Thermos Funtainer 12 Ounce Bottle

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Baby Sun Hat with UPF 50+

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Mineral Sunscreen Lotion – SPF 50

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Disney Stitch Plush

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The Lion King 2-Pack Bodysuit

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car road trip movie

6 road-trip movies to watch for travel inspiration

T he joy of traveling is not limited to the end destination but is also very much about the journey, and that is the essence that makes road-trip movies so special. Different filmmakers tend to approach the concept in their own way, so there are a variety of road-trip movies that focus on different aspects of the journey.

Some movies focus on bonding and exploration, while others showcase it as a more cathartic experience linked to self-realization and healing. Most of these films also incorporate an element of comedy that makes for a fun watch.

No matter what the approach is, road-trip movies in general tend to encourage viewers to embark on their own adventure. Viewers who are looking for a sign from the universe to push them to plan a trip of their own will find at least one reason, if not multiple, after watching a good road-trip movie.

Of course, many road-trip movies have been released to date, but the best ones combine derisable dream destinations with interesting narratives and heartfelt performances to leave a lasting impression.

The best road-trip movies that celebrate the joy of travelling and exploration

1) heartlands (2002).

Directed by Damien O'Donnell, this road-trip movie focuses on an amicable newsagent named Colin, played by Michael Sheen . He finds out that his wife is cheating on him with the captain of the darts team he plays for. After he is cut from the team, he resolves to travel to Blackpool with the hope that he will be able to win back his wife.

Sheen does a wonderful job portraying Colin. It is interesting to see how the character changes after his interactions and experiences on the road. The movie is not exactly fast-paced, but it is still witty and enjoyable all the same.

2) Into the Wild (2007)

This popular movie is based on the life of Christopher McCandless. Emile Hirsch plays the role of Christopher in this movie directed by Sean Penn . It gives viewers an insight into the experiences and challenges that Christopher faced as he hitchhiked his way all the way to Alaska.

Hirsch skillfully captures the emotions and mannerisms of Christopher who was fascinated with the nomadic lifestyle. More than anything else, this is one of those movies that makes viewers want to be more spontaneous and adventurous.

3) The Bucket List (2007)

Two experienced actors, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman , come together in this movie directed by Rob Reiner. The story focuses on Edward Perriman Cole (Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Freeman), both of whom are terminally ill patients. They take a road trip wherein they try and do things from a wishlist before the Grim Reaper comes calling.

The best thing about this movie is the chemistry between the leads. Their characters are endearing, funny, and most of all, relatable. It is heart-warming to watch them bond and support each other during their trip.

4) Land Ho! (2014)

This road-trip movie is about two ex-brothers-in-laws, played by Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson, who take a trip to Iceland together and try all the hip things that all the young people rave about.

Directed by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, this movie focuses on healing and friendship. It is funny and realistic, and the effortless candor between Eenhoorn and Nelson adds to the narrative.

5) The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

This movie marks the directorial debut of both Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz. The story is centered around Zak (Zack Gottsagen) who has Down syndrome. He runs away from a state-run care facility to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. On his journey, he meets up with an outlaw named Tyler ( Shia LaBeouf ) who ends up becoming his friend.

This movie shines thanks to its strong narrative and spectacular performance by Gottsagen and LaBeouf's. The movie as a whole is bound to leave an impact on the viewer.

6) Nomadland (2020)

In this road-trip movie directed by Chloé Zhao, Frances McDormand plays the role of the protagonist. She is Fern who embraces a life on the road after she loses her job. As she travels, she grows as a person and gains a new perspective on life from her interactions with other nomads she meets on the road.

Even when she isn't saying anything, McDormand has a commanding aura, making it difficult for the viewer to look away. Her emotions and body language are always on-point, and she effortlessly carries the narrative. Quiet but thought-provoking, this one is a must-watch road-trip movie.

These road-trip movies will not only entertain movie lovers but will encourage them to pack their bags and set out on the next adventure. They are heartfelt and beautiful stories that inspire one to live life to the fullest.

6 road-trip movies to watch for travel inspiration 

Road Trip (2000)

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COMMENTS

  1. 25 Essential Road Trip Movies of the Last 25 Years

    Synopsis: Set in 1973, it chronicles the funny and often poignant coming of age of 15-year-old William, an unabashed music fan... [More] Starring: Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee. Directed By: Cameron Crowe.

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    8.1 (7.8K) Rate. A football team from Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, gets a chance to go to the First World Football Championship, but things get complicated along the way. Director Dragan Bjelogrlic Stars Milos Bikovic Danijela Petkovic Petar Strugar. 6. The Mountain Between Us. 2017 1h 52m PG-13.

  3. 27 Road Trip Movies Every Traveler Needs To Watch

    5. American Honey. A24. "Zola" isn't the only movie where Riley Keough is a uniquely awful road trip presence. There's also the 2016 drama "American Honey", where Keough enlists a young girl ...

  4. 27 Best Road Trip Movies of All Time: 'Easy Rider,' 'Midnight Run'

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    3. Thelma and Louise. Thelma and Louise is a road trip film with something to say, something prescient and relevant today that was remarkably ahead of its time in 1991. The film follows two friends, Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) who take to the road for a two-day vacation.

  7. Cars on the Road (TV Mini Series 2022)

    Cars on the Road: With Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Toks Olagundoye, Robin Atkin Downes. Lightning McQueen and Mater go on a cross-country road trip to see Mater's sister.

  8. Best Road Trip Movies: 'It Happened One Night,' 'Easy Rider,' and More

    What It Is : A counterculture classic, Dennis Hopper's "Easy Rider" stars the director and Peter Fonda as two drug-smuggling motorcyclists on a journey from Los Angeles to New Orleans, where ...

  9. 15 All-Time-Best Road Trip Movies

    15 All-Time-Best Road Trip Movies. For nearly as long as there have been cars and film, there have been road trip movies. From the serious ("Easy Rider," "Thelma and Louise") to the delightfully silly ("Dumb and Dumber," "National Lampoon's Vacation"), these films have been a staple of worldwide cinema for nearly a century. But while some, like ...

  10. 13 Best Road Trip Movies on Netflix Right Now

    5. Dhak Dhak (2023) A Bollywood drama directed by Tarun Dudeja, 'Dhak Dhak' brings together four women from different social lifestyles and age groups. Together, they set off on a bike trip to Ladakh, India, a place that is considered the highest mountain pass in the world and can be reached by vehicle.

  11. 10 Best Buddy Road Trip Movies, According to Rotten Tomatoes

    9 Dumb and Dumber (1994) Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. The Farley Brothers breakout hit about two loveably dimwitted friends who take a road trip to Aspen is a milestone in comedy and took the buddy road ...

  12. Road Trip Movies

    51 Metascore. High-strung father-to-be Peter Highman is forced to hitch a ride with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay on a road trip in order to make it to his child's birth on time. Director: Todd Phillips | Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx. Votes: 358,021 | Gross: $100.54M. 13.

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    Cars on the Road is an upcoming series following Lightning McQueen and Mater on a road trip going east to attend a wedding, with Mater's sister (that no one knows of) being the bride. True to ...

  14. Road Trip (2000 film)

    Road Trip is a 2000 American road sex comedy film directed by Todd Phillips and written by Scot Armstrong and Phillips. The film stars Breckin Meyer, Seann William Scott, Paulo Costanzo, and DJ Qualls as four college friends who embark on an 1,800-mile (2,900 km) road trip to retrieve an illicit tape mistakenly mailed to a girlfriend. The film gathered a cult following over the years.

  15. Road Trip Comedies

    What films will you find on this list of the best road trip movies? Dumb and Dumber continues to make audiences laugh. Whether Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) are traveling by dog-car, scooter or Hawaiian Tropic bus, the result is pure hilarity. Vacation - starring Chevy Chase - is another classic road trip comedy.

  16. 10 iconic American road trip movies

    Easy Rider (1969) - Director: Dennis Hopper. - IMDb user rating: 7.3. - Metascore: 85. - Runtime: 95 minutes. "Easy Rider" stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as bikers who smuggle drugs from Mexico into California, sell them, and head eastward to New Orleans trying to make it in time for Mardi Gras.

  17. 20 Best Family Trip Movies

    Best family trip movies for younger kids 1.Cars. To me the story of "Cars" is the ultimate family road trip movie because it takes place along the iconic Route 66 that goes from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. The movie depicts many landmarks of the Mother Road, as Route 66 often being referred to.

  18. Road Trip Movies

    Road Trip Movies. by rioxrx • Created 8 years ago • Modified 8 years ago "Life's a journey, not a destination." ... On the way to California, a family has the misfortune to have their car break down in an area closed to the public, and inhabited by violent savages ready to attack. Director Wes Craven Stars Susan Lanier Robert Houston John ...

  19. Cars on the Road

    Cars on the Road. Rating: TV-G. Release Date: September 8, 2022. Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family. Pixar Animation Studios returns to the world of "Cars" with the all-new original series "Cars on the Road.". Episodes follow Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and his best friend Mater (voice of Larry the Cable ...

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    The best road trip movie that has nothing to do with cars has to be Finding Nemo.This Disney Pixar movie about the young clownfish Nemo and his sidekick, Dory, is a heart-warming and funny adventure movie underwater. Nemo escapes from the dentist's aquarium, battles the open ocean, encounters many a dangerous sea creature—and plenty of friendly ones, too—and is eventually reunited with ...

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  22. Road Trip (2/9) Movie CLIP

    Road Trip movie clips: http://j.mp/1L5B95vBUY THE MOVIE: http://j.mp/JKHwg4Don't miss the HOTTEST NEW TRAILERS: http://bit.ly/1u2y6prCLIP DESCRIPTION:E.L. (S...

  23. Road Trip (2000)

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