Road Trip Movies

Watching road trip movies may be the next best thing to going on a road trip. Cinema is such a truly fantastic medium for telling road trip tales. It seems natural that there would be a genre just for road trip films.

There are a lot of road trip films to choose from. I did my best to list the greatest that I’ve seen, but please understand, I may have different taste than you.

And if you like quotes, I’ve made a list of road trip movie quotes taken from the movies on this page.


Interstate 60

Starring: James Marsden, Gary Oldman, Amy Smart, Christopher Lloyd, Chris Cooper
Writer and Director: Bob Gale
Rated R for language and sexual references
Road trip car: 1996 BMW 328i Cabrio

Interstate 60This road trip movie begins with a college student in a bar, describing his thesis, which states that there is no mythical wish-granting figure in the American Culture. He is quickly corrected by a gentleman at the bar, who speaks of O.W. Grant. Neal, the lead character, meets O.W. Grant, and the movie is developed around Neal’s granted wish.

After Neal agrees to deliver a mysterious package, he is plunged into a series of bizarre events. He is guided by a magic eight ball onto an interstate which doesn’t actually exist, where he meets people and visits places that all grant him a deeper understanding of life’s meaning (which is exactly what road trips do, if we let them). The movie seems to be a clever commentary on the foibles of the ‘human condition’, such as addictions, honesty, legality, etc.

There are many cameo appearances including Michael J. Fox, Kurt Russel, and Mark Lutz.


Paper Moon

Starring: Ryan O’Neal, Tatum O’Neal, Madeline Kahn, John Hillerman, P.J. Johnson
Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Rated PG for sexual references, language, and a beating
Road trip cars: 1930 Ford Model A, 1936 Ford V8 De Luxe, Ford Model T

Paper MoonPaper Moon is based on the novel “Addie Pray” written by Joe David Brown. It was filmed in 1973, but it was fashioned as though it were filmed in the 1930’s. And the effect was executed flawlessly.

This road trip movie follows an orphaned girl named Addie and a small-time conman named Moze, two souls born to be on the road. Moze has agreed to deliver Addie to her kin folk in St. Louis, Missouri, and we get to witness their adventures as they cross the prairie. Addie proves herself a valuable travel companion, and they grow fond of each other, though they show it in a most peculiar way.

The acting is savvy. The plot moves along very well. And the cinematography is brilliant and beautiful. The final shot is a perfect road trip picture … a priceless portrayal of highway travel.


$5 a Day

Starring: Christopher Walken, Allesandro Nivolla, Sharon Stone, Dean Cain, Peter Coyote, Amanda Peet
Director: Nigel Cole
Rated PG13 for sexual content, brief nudity and language
Road trip car: 2006 Chrysler P/T Cruiser dressed up like a pink Sweet-N-Low packet
Road trip route: Atlantic City, New Jersey – Altoona, Pennsylvania – Bloomington, Indiana – Springfield, Missouri – Tulsa, Oklahoma – Elk City, Oklahoma – Amarillo, Texas – Albuquerque, New Mexico

5 Dollars a DayA health inspector in Los Angeles, California gets fired from his job and ditched by his girlfriend. So he decides to answer his father’s invitation to visit him in Atlantic City, New jersey.

His father is a compulsive liar and prides himself in living on the cheap, spending on average less than $5 a day, taking advantage of every promotional deal and every freebie that he can find. He asks his son Flynn to drive him to New Mexico to get an experimental treatment for a brain tumor. They can’t fly, because apparently high altitude is bad for brain tumors. So, they must drive. I believe the real reason they must drive is that Nat wants to bond with his son Flynn, and a cross country road trip is the perfect way to do that.

Nat maps out the entire road trip to take advantage of everything he can along the way and travel for cheap. They can virtually do the trip for free. Do you want to learn about cheap road trips? Then, watch this road trip movie.


Little Miss Sunshine

Starring: Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, and Steve Carell
Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Writer: Michael Arndt
Rated R for language, some sex and drug content
Road trip car: 1978 Volkswagen bus
Road trip route: Albuquerque, New Mexico to Los Angeles, California

Little Miss SunshineA young girl named Olive is inspired to become a beauty queen. Her father, Richard, is struggling to sell his nine step ‘refuse to lose’ self-help program. Her mother, Sheryl, just brought suicidal Uncle Frank home from the hospital. Her brother, Dwayne, wants to be a jet pilot, reads Nietzsche, and has taken a vow of silence. Grandpa’s a heroine addict and has joined the household because he’s been kicked out of the old folks place.

Olive has been selected to compete at the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant in Los Angeles, California. Circumstances bring the whole family together to drive their Volkswagen bus to the West Coast. They are a family of well orchestrated chaos and their road trip adventures bring them closer together (the magic of the road trip always does that).

The Volkswagen bus comes across as one of the characters and has some entertaining mechanical issues along the way. The soundtrack is sensational. And, the ending will make you smile.


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