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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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.

good car trip movies

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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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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.

good car trip movies

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15 Certified Fresh Road Trip Movies

For the 25th anniversary of thelma & louise , we look at some of the best-reviewed road trips put on film..

good car trip movies

TAGGED AS: Certified Fresh

Twenty-five years ago today, Thelma and Louise jumped behind the wheel in search of a little freedom — and although the trip didn’t turn out quite the way they’d planned, their movie has enjoyed a far smoother journey, becoming one of the best-reviewed (and most popular) road trip movies of the last quarter-century. In celebration of Thelma and Louise ‘s latest milestone, we’ve compiled a list of audience-tested and critic-approved road trip movies that’ll keep you going for hours.

The Blues Brothers (1980) 72%

The Roadblocks:  Unfortunately, the brothers embark on their journey with a suspended license, and they aren’t about to slow down for a little inconvenience like the police (or mall pedestrians). Meanwhile, one of Jake’s spurned girlfriends (a bazooka-toting Carrie Fisher) is hot on their tail, and has no intention of letting the Blues Brothers reunite — or, for that matter, letting Jake live. Confined to the highways and byways of Illinois, The Blues Brothers  doesn’t cover as much ground as most road movies, but it’s a high-speed trip — and it culminates in one of the most righteous car crashes ever filmed.

Notes from the Road:  “Constantly hilarious, with a comic supporting cast to die for.” — Jeffrey M. Anderson, San Francisco Examiner

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Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) 91%

The Roadblocks:  Borat is essentially his own roadblock — if he isn’t shocking and/or offending middle Americans with his witless comments about women and minorities, he’s picking an epic, distressingly naked fight with his best friend and producer (Ken Davitian). It will not surprise you to learn that things don’t go according to plan.

Notes from the Road:  “Although I knew it was dishonest, cynical, and the ultimate in cheap-shot humor, I laughed more at Borat  than at any other film this year. So I guess the joke is on me.” — Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix

Easy Rider (1969) 84%

The Roadblocks:  It’s the establishment, man. Okay, so they might be biking across the country with drug money stuffed in a tube, but Wyatt and Billy aren’t bad guys. Problem is, their scruffy appearance and relaxed attitude toward local customs have a way of attracting untoward attention from The Man.

Notes from the Road:  “This is a glorious widescreen vision of a hot and bothered America, at once beautiful and lost.” — Ian Nathan, Empire

Grandma (2015) 91%

The Roadblocks: They’re both broke and the girl needs $850, for starters — and then there’s the complicated tangle of personal relationships that forces its way into their path at seemingly every turn, initiating a series of uncomfortable reckonings along the way.

Notes from the Road: “ Grandma is a small film, but one with huge things to say about the meaning of family and the value of living on one’s own terms.” — Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It Happened One Night (1934) 98%

The Roadblocks:  Screenwriter Robert Riskin pulled out all the stops for Colbert and Gable’s journey, including a series of screwball misunderstandings, the most famous hitchhiking scene in movie history, and an added dash of last-minute wedding excitement in the final act. If its ingredients all seem overly familiar now, it’s because they worked so brilliantly here.

Notes from the Road:  “ It Happened One Night  is a true classic in every sense of the word, one that withstands the test of time and indeed defies it completely.” — Scott Nash, Three Movie Buffs

Little Miss Sunshine (2006) 91%

The Roadblocks:  The Hoovers are on a tight 48-hour timetable, for starters; making matters more difficult is their lack of funds, as well as the gloomy presence of Sheryl’s brother (Steve Carell), who recently tried to commit suicide, and Richard’s father (Alan Arkin), whose heroin habit just got him kicked out of a retirement home. And then there’s the matter of that ancient yellow Microbus…

Notes from the Road:  “This inspirational, hilariously sad dysfunctional-family-road-trip dramedy offers absolutely everything — except pretension.” — Brian Marder,

Midnight Run (1988) 95%

The Roadblocks:  Once Mardukas loudly feigns fear of flying and gets them kicked off their flight to L.A., he and Walsh are forced to embark on a hellish cross-country journey that finds them dodging interference from the mob, a competing bounty hunter (John Ashton), and their own loathing for one another. A sequel is reportedly in the works; here’s hoping the decades in between haven’t softened their mutual disdain/begrudging respect.

Notes from the Road:  “When it comes to odd-couple action comedies, this is pretty much the epitome of how to do it.” — Luke Y. Thompson, New Times

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) 83%

The Roadblocks:  As pretty much everyone who watched it already knew, Ernesto grew up to be the revolutionary Che Guevara — and The Motorcycle Diaries  dramatizes his political awakening on the trip, sparked by firsthand experience with systemic corruption and a poverty-stricken populace.

Notes from the Road:  “You get so caught up in the beauty of the images, and lost in the weathered faces found along the way, you quite forget that you’re traveling with Che Guevara — which is, of course, exactly what the original experience would be.” — Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

The Muppet Movie (1979) 89%

The Roadblocks: Unfortunately, Kermit also attracts the attention of Doc Hopper (Charles Durning) and his mealy-mouthed sidekick Max (Austin Pendleton), whose frog legs restaurant franchise needs a new spokesman — and who doesn’t take kindly to being spurned by a banjo-playing frog.

Notes from the Road:  “Still one of many great reasons to be a movie buff.” — Rory L. Aronsky, Film Threat

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) 94%

The Roadblocks: Things go wrong early and often, from the eight-headlighted lemon Clark buys from an unscrupulous car salesman (Eugene Levy) to an ill-advised pit stop at the depressing Kansas homestead of Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his off-putting clan. It doesn’t help that beneath Clark’s family values exterior lurks the heart of a drooling lech; his panting pursuit of an unnamed beauty (Christie Brinkley) causes almost as many problems as his refusal to ask for directions.

Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) 88%

The Roadblocks: Well, for starters, the Alamo doesn’t have a basement. And then there’s the biker gang, and the fire at a pet store, and the former child star in possession of the bicycle… what doesn’t  stand between poor Pee-Wee and his bike?

Notes from the Road:  “It’s a true original — a comedy maverick that looks and feels like no other movie I know.” — David Steritt, Christian Science Monitor

Rain Man (1988) 88%

The Roadblocks: Cruise’s efforts to get back to Los Angeles by plane are thwarted by his brother’s phobia, forcing the two to travel by car (and make regular stops for viewings of The People’s Court ). Naturally, the slow journey in close quarters brings the two closer together — and brings up long-buried family secrets.

Notes from the Road:  “A fascinating, often very moving, frequently funny film.” — Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel

Sideways (2004) 97%

The Roadblocks: Sideways is full of messy detours and unfortunate events, including a broken nose for Jack, a car crash, and a howling early-morning pursuit by a naked giant (memorably played by Lost ’s M.C. Gainey) — but they can all be traced back to one thing: Jack’s fear of commitment and unquenchable thirst for sexual conquest.

Notes from the Road:  “From its first minutes, maybe even from the credits, you know you are seeing something very special.” –Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press

Thelma & Louise (1991) 86%

The Roadblocks: Men, mostly. After Louise fatally intervenes in an attempted rape on Thelma, the duo turn fugitive — and their journey is further complicated when a run-in with a hunky young thief (Brad Pitt) leaves them caught for cash and stuck in an increasingly desperate spot.

Notes from the Road:  “Their adventures, while tinged with the fatalism that attends any crime spree, have the thrilling, life-affirming energy for which the best road movies are remembered.” — Janet Maslin, New York Times

Y tu mamá también (2001) 90%

The Roadblocks: To begin with, the idyllic secluded beach they’ve promised their female companion doesn’t exist — which actually isn’t as big a problem as the hornet’s nest of secrets and repressed desires that’s knocked over after they all start fooling around. It’s the end of an era for Mexican politics, and for our protagonist’s relationships.

Notes from the Road:  “Easily one of the sexiest and funniest films about class struggle ever made.” –Manohla Dargis, L.A. Weekly

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100 Best Road Trip & Travel Movies (2000-2017)

Vive la France (2013)

1. Vive la France

Ahmed Sylla in The Climb (2017)

2. The Climb

Aïssa Maïga, Marc Zinga, Médina Diarra, and Bayron Lebli in The African Doctor (2016)

3. The African Doctor

Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, and Charlotte Le Bon in The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

4. The Hundred-Foot Journey

See You in Montevideo (2014)

5. See You in Montevideo

Kate Winslet and Idris Elba in The Mountain Between Us (2017)

6. The Mountain Between Us

Woody Harrelson and Brie Larson in The Glass Castle (2017)

7. The Glass Castle

A Bag of Marbles (2017)

8. A Bag of Marbles

Claudio Bisio and Alessandro Siani in Welcome to the South (2010)

9. Welcome to the South

Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., and Daisy Ridley in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

10. Murder on the Orient Express

Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)

11. Passengers

Daniel Radcliffe in Jungle (2017)

13. The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner

Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List (2007)

14. The Bucket List

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

15. The Motorcycle Diaries

Simon Pegg in Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)

16. Hector and the Search for Happiness

Joshua Jackson in One Week (2008)

17. One Week

Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild (2007)

18. Into the Wild

Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

19. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunset (2004)

20. Before Sunset

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach (2000)

21. The Beach

Reese Witherspoon in Wild (2014)

23. The Darjeeling Limited

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in Long Way Round (2004)

24. Long Way Round

Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation (2003)

25. Lost in Translation

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10 Lo-Fi Sci-Fi Movies That Define the Genre

20 best fantasy romance movies of all time , the best live action american superhero movies of the '90s, ranked.

Yearning for the open road? Look no further! Hollywood is no stranger to producing entertaining road trip movies that feature iconic cross-country adventures. While some audiences just can’t seem to get enough of this comedy staple, others flock to theaters for films that take a more heartfelt approach to the genre, utilizing the road trip as a way to express maturation, character development, and coming-of-age themes. Sometimes it's nice to live vicariously through the lives of these big-screen characters. With such an impressive list of beloved classics to choose from, determining the greatest among these films is difficult.

Updated May 18th, 2023: If you're a fan of the open road, you'll be glad to know this article was recently updated with new content by fellow travel enthusiast Amanda Minchin .

So whether you're yearning for some comedic relief from life's difficulties or are just wanting to see the world from a new perspective, these films, with their array of hijinks and chaos, will prove entertaining for audiences of all ages. Instead of needing to hop in the car, sit down, grab the remote, and explore the open road from the comfort of your home. Here is our deep dive into the best road trip movies throughout cinema history.

13 Dumb and Dumber

The iconic buddy-comedy Dumb and Dumber stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as two dimwitted yet well-meaning friends who set off on a cross-country road trip from Providence, Rhode Island, to Aspen, Colorado, in order to return a briefcase full of money.

Related: Why Dumb and Dumber Is a Perfect Road Trip Movie

The charm of this film lies in the delightful ignorance of Lloyd and Harry, whose personas simply don’t allow for a light bulb moment. They have absolutely no desire to either learn or grow during their hilariously harrowing journey and, as a result, they ultimately go off on many a zany adventure without learning all that much. Dumb and Dumber found great success at the box office upon its release, becoming one of the most iconic of 1994 .

12 Y Tu Mamá También

Y Tu Mamá También is the coming-of-age tale of two teenage boys who set out on a road trip with an older woman in her late twenties. This Alfonso Cuaron road movie features a talented cast, including Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, and Maribel Verdú, who shine against the backdrop of Mexico’s economic and political realities in 1999.

This intimate and tender story is also an exploration of sexuality and maturity. The young men's journey leads to self-discovery and a loss of innocence amidst the stunning road trip setting. The film uses travel and journey as a metaphor. As a result, audiences are able to witness the transformation of the leads from adolescence to adulthood in a fresh and authentic way.

11 Easy Rider

Easy Rider is arguably one of the most important road trip movies in cinema history. This film, which received critical praise upon its release, is credited with helping to spark the New Hollywood era of the 1970s. This 1969 independent road drama tells the story of two bikers who embark on a journey through the American South and Southwest, transporting the proceeds of a cocaine deal.

The film stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as the lead bikers, alongside the memorable performance of Jack Nicholson as the boozy lawyer they pick up along the way. This classic flick focuses heavily on the journey, not the destination, as the free-spirited bikers get a harsh dose of reality during their travels across the country.

10 It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night is an infamous screwball comedy , and with good reason. Widely considered the first, it soon became the roadmap for others to follow after its release in the early 30s. The movie also arguably launched the careers of stars Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable. In the film, Colbert played an heiress on the run back to her true love. Gable, meanwhile, played the intrepid reporter following shortly behind. They travel from Florida to New York in increasingly jerry-rigged modes of transportation and, of course, wind up falling in love in the process.

At the time, a movie about an unmarried couple traveling together was sure to ruffle a few feathers. Considered a Pre-Code film (though the Hays Code was in effect, it was not officially enforced for all pictures until shortly thereafter), this movie managed to skirt the censors by covering any sense of impropriety with snappy dialogue, cheeky humor, and endless innuendo... thus creating the screwball comedy in the process. For example, Frank Capra and crew got around the pair sharing a room together during their travels by dividing said room with a bedsheet that the characters literally nickname “The Walls of Jericho.” Any source of seduction was at most a suggestion, as demonstrated by Colbert’s last-ditch use of her *gasp* bare leg to hail a passing car, though that too was considered rather scandalous in passing.

The touching and deeply endearing 1988 classic Rain Man tells the story of conceited jerk Charlie Babbitt who, upon his wealthy father’s death, discovers the inheritance has been left to his unknown autistic-savant brother Raymond. Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman deliver powerful performances as Charlie and Raymond, for which the latter earned an Academy Award.

As the brothers travel from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, Charlie witnesses the restrictions of Raymond’s condition and, in turn, gains a new perspective on life. The film’s unique premise and the chemistry between Cruise and Hoffman as they travel the country, make this a road trip staple.

8 Little Miss Sunshine

Oscar-winning dramedy Little Miss Sunshine features an all-star cast (including Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, and Abigail Breslin). It tells the story of a barely-functional family who are determined to get their daughter to the finals of a beauty pageant. Setting off in their VW bus (which requires a rolling start), the Hoover clan soon embark on an 800-mile road trip to California. Their goal of reaching the beauty pageant is what ultimately brings the family together.

The script for this film is both funny and heartfelt, and Michael Arndt received the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his effort. The colorful characters add depth and humor to the plot, which is tied up nicely by the end. Little Miss Sunshine was one of those indie films from the 2000s that broke out with mainstream audiences, and part of that is it perfectly captures what it is like to be stuck with one's family for a long road trip.

7 Into the Wild

This film is for those whose wanderlust leads them to less tread pastures. Based on the book by Jon Krakauer, Into The Wild tells the true story of an Emory college graduate and athlete who renounces his family fortune and sets off on a hitchhiking adventure that leads him deep into the Alaskan wilderness. Written, directed, and produced by Sean Penn, the film version stars Emile Hirsch as Chris McCandless, a.k.a. Alexander Supertramp.

Upon its release, the film was nominated for many awards, including Golden Globes and Academy Awards. It was soon added to many of the top lists that year. The abandoned bus that housed the final days of the real-life McCandless even became a pilgrimage site for fans until it had to be airlifted to a safer location. Those wanting to dive into a smaller, safer venture should carve out the 2 ½ hours for this film.

6 Almost Famous

The critically acclaimed Cameron Crowe dramedy Almost Famous is the ultimate coming-of-age film with an ensemble cast of Hollywood heavy hitters like Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, and Jason Lee. The movie is loosely based on Crowe's own experience as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine.

Almost Famous tells the story of a young 1970s Rolling Stone journalist William Miller and his epic journey of self-discovery as he travels with the fictitious rock band Stillwater. As he follows them across the country, William experiences the highs and lows of adolescence: falling in love, being rejected, making friends, and ultimately accepting himself. The movie received critical acclaim and numerous accolades and is included in many lists of the greatest films ever made.

5 Thelma and Louise

Arguably the ultimate female buddy movie , 1991’s Thelma and Louise tells the unforgettable tale of two best friends who take off for the open road after a tragic event forces them to flee for greener pastures. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon star as the ride-or-die duo who zip across the country in Thelma’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird.

Related: How Thelma and Louise Is a Queer Allegory

The iconic friendship of the film's titular leads, impressively performed by Davis and Sarandon, firmly cements it as a landmark feminist film. The movie also features a young Brad Pitt in one of his first major roles as a drifter who catches Thelma's eye. The iconic ending of Thelma and Louise remains one of the greatest in Hollywood history to this day.

4 The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert quickly cemented Australia’s cultural status as a producer of quirky, independent cinema when it was first released in 1994. What could have ended as a dumpster fire of epic proportions was instead a surprisingly tender and thoughtful road movie. Featuring a soundtrack of campy classics bolstered by supreme performances from Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, and Guy Pearce, the plot follows two drag queens and one transgender woman as they go on tour in Australia.

While the movie arguably may have been even better having an actual trans woman or drag culture enthusiast cast, the trio sure put on one hell of a show as they traverse the literal Outback in sequins, beads, and platform heels. The film, which was written and directed by Stephan Elliott, would later be adapted into a musical. The play premiered in Sydney in 2006 before touring throughout the country. It would eventually be welcomed onto the Broadway stage a few years later in 2011.

3 The Blues Brothers

Beloved Saturday Night Live alums John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd reprised their sketch characters for the silver screen as “Joliet” Jake Blues and blood brother Elwood in 1980s The Blues Brothers . The pair are hilarious as sleazy musicians who make it their mission to save the orphanage they were raised in from foreclosure.

The classic comedy focuses on Jake and Elwood as they reunite their R&B band and travel around Chicago in their “bluesmobile,” playing music for money. With exciting car chases, comical shootouts, and unforgettable musical numbers, The Blues Brothers remains an iconic classic of road-trip cinema.

2 National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

This film kick-started a beloved comedy franchise that continues to this day. 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation focuses on the Griswold family as their patriarch leads them on a cross-country trip to an amusement park... Naturally, chaos and hilarity arise. The ultimate success of this movie led to a barrage of sequels.

Starring Saturday Night Live alum Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, Vacation also features the talents of Beverly D’Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, and Dana Barron as his wife and less-than-adoring children. Chase is brilliant as the comical and determined Clark. This outrageous farce depicts the reality of a family on vacation. None of them are perfect, and all of them are full of endearing dysfunction as they try and fail to have a good time.

1 Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Comedy legends Steve Martin and John Candy partnered up with famed director John Hughes for 1987’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles . Martin starred as uptight Neal Page, while Candy portrayed the overbearing but kind-hearted Del Griffith. Stuck together, the pair join forces in an effort to get Neal home to Chicago in time for his family's Thanksgiving dinner. Because of this, it has since become a Thanksgiving classic.

The chemistry between the two leads in this film is as effortless as it is hilarious. This movie features plenty of sidesplitting situations while also being surprisingly emotional at times. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a heartfelt flick that utilizes its comedic talent to the fullest. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a comedic masterpiece that has endured for decades.

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The 25 Best Road Trip Movies Ever

More than just an excuse to get from point A to point B, a road trip — in real life or in fiction — has the potential to be a uniquely rewarding undertaking. It’s an experience that stresses the process, whether that process is a few hours with a destination in mind or weeks and months spent wandering. Road trip movies literalize the journey that characters are on, often serving as an allegory for the entire narrative that reminds us the destination is rarely as important as the experience of getting there.

Road trip movies encompass a wide range of genres, from slapstick comedies to prestige dramas and everything in between. Whether you’re after a slice of life representation of a road trip or a thrilling adventure, there’s a film for you. Without further ado, here are 25 road trip movies that capture the spirit of the journey and that will inspire you to hit the open road — or at least hit play on another film on the list.

Almost Famous (2000)

Destination:  The concert tour stops for Stillwater, the band that 15-year old William Miller (Patrick Fugit) has finagled his way into profiling for Rolling Stone.

Journey:  Self-discovery and the usual markings of a coming of age tale, with an added emphasis on the healing power of music, the destructive force of fame, and, as Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane articulates, the hope of finding a home, and the feelings of security and love that comes with it, no matter where you are.

Death Proof (2007)

Destination:  For Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Kim (Tracie Thoms), and Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the plan is to reunite with their friend Zoe Bell, playing herself.

Journey:  What starts as test driving a 1970 Dodge Challenger then turns into trying to survive an attack from the homicidal Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) in this modern exploitation thriller that, as any Tarantino fan with taste will tell you, is one of his best .

Duel (1971)

Destination:  Salesman David Mann (Dennis Weaver) is driving through the Mojave desert for work.

Journey:  In Steven Spielberg’s directorial feature debut, his everyman(n) protagonist is a mild-mannered husband and father who must unleash his survival instincts when he is targeted seemingly at random by a maniacal truck driver who tries to kill him. Come for the thrills, stay for the lesson that from the very beginning Spielberg had an incredible eye for tension and suspense.

Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Destination:  Aspen, Colorado, so that Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) can return a suitcase of money they didn’t realize was left at an airport not on accident, but on purpose as ransom money.

Journey:  The expected hijinks and humor that, as dumb and childish as it might be, is still funnier than it has any right to be.

Easy Rider (1969)

Destination:  Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Journey:  An exploration of a changing American landscape as bikers Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) make their way cross-country with money earned smuggling cocaine. This iconic counterculture film addresses social tension, the generational divide, and all things associated with the hippie lifestyle.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Destination:  From New York to Chicago and back again.

Journey:  For folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), life is more of a series of events that happen to him rather than events that he takes an active role in. Llewyn is grieving after the suicide of his musical partner and his travels to Chicago and back to New York are part of his search for meaning and a way out of his mundane cyclical existence.

It Happened One Night (1934)

Destination:  New York City, where heiress Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) plans to reunite with a fiance her father disapproves of.

Journey:  Ellie is joined by recently fired reporter Peter Warne (Clarke Gable) who seeks to win his way back into his newspaper by getting the scoop on her story, but as one would expect from this pre-code romantic comedy , their business deal relationship quickly blossoms into something not quite platonic.

Joy Ride (2001)

Destination:  College student Lewis (Paul Walker) is driving home for the summer break when he has to bail his brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn), out of jail in Utah, and then carry on to Colorado to pick up childhood friend and fellow student Venna (Leelee Sobieski).

Journey:  In this horror movie from director John Dahl from a script by J.J. Abrams and Clay Tarver that is an homage to Spielberg’s Duel , Lewis and Fuller pull a prank on a truck driver over a CB radio in Lewis’ car. It turns out they messed with the wrong truck driver as their road trip home quickly turns into a quest for survival when their prank target repeatedly tries to kill them for revenge.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Destination: The Little Miss Sunshine child beauty pageant in Redondo Beach, California.

Journey:  While on the way to a beauty pageant that Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) hopes to compete in, the idiosyncratic Hoover family must learn to put aside their differences and support each other as they each deal with personal struggles on their road trip from New Mexico to California.

Logan (2017)

Destination:  A refuge for mutants in North Dakota named Eden.

Journey:  An aging Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman) sees the end in sight as mutants have become a dying breed in the year 2029. When he meets a young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen) who possesses similar powers, he feels compelled to protect her and this revitalizes Logan’s ability to care for those around him in a way that he hasn’t experienced in a long time.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Destination:  “The green place,” a utopia amidst the desert wasteland that has taken over the rest of the world.

Journey: In this action-packed adventure , loner Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is captured by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and when he escapes his instinct is to leave and make his way through the desert on his own. He is convinced by Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to accompany her and help protect the women she helped escape from Immortan Joe as they journey through the barren landscape trying to survive and eventually find somewhere livable.

Magic Mike XXL (2015)

Destination:  A Fourth of July stripping convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) will join his former co-workers for one last hurrah after getting out of the stripping business several years ago.

Journey:  Free from the overly serious constraints of the first film, this sequel revels in positive representations of masculinity , the beauty of friendships, and the joy that comes from simply caring for one another. Told through a series of vignettes, Magic Mike XXL embodies the road trip spirit of camaraderie, rolling with the punches, and the power of the right song playing on the radio at the right time.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Destination:  Through the Pacific Northwest, to Idaho, and beyond in search of Mike’s (River Phoenix) mother.

Journey:  In this reimagining of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” and “Henry V” , Mike is joined by best friend Scott (Keanu Reeves), a fellow homeless young man who gets by as a sex worker. As they try to track down Mike’s mom by visiting his other family members, the two men grow closer, but their relationship is complicated by Scott’s affluent family and their other relationships.

Paris, Texas (1984)

Destination:  A reunion with the family that Travis (Harry Dean Stanton), an amnesiac who mysteriously wanders out of the desert, had forgotten.

Journey: Wim Wenders’ most acclaimed film addresses the modern family, masculinity, and the desire for connection and a shared sense of humanity in the face of loss and decay.

Stagecoach (1939)

Destination:  The titular stagecoach is carrying passengers from Arizona territory to Lordsburg, New Mexico in 1880.

Journey:   Stagecoach follows nine strangers who begin the film on separate paths and become united during their shared experiences on the road. Despite having some heinous depictions of Native Americans, this western from director John Ford starring John Wayne in his breakout role is a masterclass in filmmaking.

Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

Destination: Whatever point John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrae), a director who seeks to represent the real world on screen, feels he has properly connected with middle America.

Journey:  Going from a successful comedic filmmaker to a hobo with an aspiring actress (Veronica Lake) at his side, Sullivan believes the best thing he can do as a filmmaker is to capture the harsh reality that so many endure in order to make his masterpiece, but when he experiences trouble firsthand, he has to reconsider his aims.

The Cannonball Run (1981)

Destination:  California, the location of the finish line for an anything goes, illegal, cross country race that begins in Connecticut.

Journey:  The contestants in this race are determined to win by any means necessary in this action-comedy based on a real event that occurred several times in the 1970s, the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. The plot tends to fall by the wayside, but there’s plenty of fun to be had in watching a cast that includes Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Jackie Chan duke it out.

The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

Destination:  A trip through Mexico for Roy (Edmond O’Brien) and Gilbert (Frank Lovejoy) where they intend to go fishing.

Journey:  Things are complicated with the two men pick up a hitchhiker who turns out to be a murderer and escaped convict. The fishing trip then turns into a journey of survival as the two men try to escape together.

Thelma & Louise (1991)

Destination:  Mexico, to get away from the cops after Louise (Susan Sarandon) shoots a man who attempted to rape Thelma (Geena Davis).

Journey:  This landmark feminist film explores the roles of women in society, female friendships, and self-reliance as the two women make their way through America while being chased by the police.

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar  (1995)

Destination:  Los Angeles, so that Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes), Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze), and Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo) can all attend a drag queen pageant.

Journey:  Along the way, their car breaks down in a small town and while the drag queens do have to contend with homophobic and racist locals, they also begin to bond with many of the townsfolk, particularly Carol Ann (Stockard Channing), a housewife who befriends them.

True Romance (1993)

Destination:  Los Angeles, where Clarence and Alabama Worley (Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette) flee to from Detroit after Clarence kills Alabama’s pimp.

Journey:  Clarence and Alabama’s whirlwind romance and quick marriage would typically raise some red flags, but here it seems that these two were meant to find each other. Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay was famously darker than the final product from director Tony Scott, but this change works as the earnest commitment of their relationship balances the madness of the film. True Romance is certainly over the top, and it’s violent, but above all else, it’s so cool.

Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

Destination:  Through Mexico to a secluded beach on the coast.

Journey:  Teenagers Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) are on a journey of self-discovery one summer when they are joined on a beach trip by Tenoch’s cousin’s wife Luisa (Maribel Verdú). As the three grow closer, they contend with jealousy and desire against a complex social and economic landscape in Mexico.

Vagabond (1985)

Destination:  This reverse mystery begins with the death of a young woman (Sandrine Bonnaire) who had wandered the French countryside. The film then follows the story of how she ended up there.

Journey:  Agnès Varda’s acclaimed drama is a rumination on modern existence and the misery of isolation. As one would expect from Varda’s humanistic approach to storytelling, it’s also a mindful consideration of those with no place to call home in the societies that surround them.

Wild Strawberries (1957)

Destination:  To Lund from Stockholm so that an aging and irritable professor, Isak Borg (Victor Sjöström), can receive a doctorate from a university there.

Journey:  Along the way, Isak reevaluates his life when a series of encounters with other people on the road trigger memories from his past. By interrogating his own life and his actions, Isak begins to open up to the world around him in an effort to find peace.

Zombieland (2009)

Destination:  The Pacific Playland amusement park in Los Angeles, a place rumored to be free of zombies.

Journey:  When the apocalypse hits and every day is a matter of life and death to the point that people have stopped referring to each other by name and instead go by the cities they’re from to prevent becoming attached to people, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) must learn that without human connection, he might survive, but he won’t really live.

If those 25 aren’t enough, here are 15 more that would have been on this list if it was longer:  Badlands, Flirting with Disaster, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Bonnie and Clyde, Crossroads, Midnight Special, Harold & Kumar go to White Castle, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Into The Wild, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Interstate 60, The Blues Brothers, and Sideways. 

Related Topics: Death Proof , George Miller , Inside Llewyn Davis , Logan , Mad Max Fury Road , magic mike xxl , Quentin Tarantino , Steven Spielberg , Update The Lists

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The Best Road Trip Movies

By CNT Editors

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Road trips are filled with unexpected twists and turns, be they roadside attractions or backseat squabbles. So is it any wonder that this beloved (or stressful, depending on where in the car you sit) travel style has inspired so many filmmakers? Whether they're funny, sad, whimsical, or violent (we're looking at you, Bonnie and Clyde ), movies inspired by cars, buses, and motorcycles have one thing in common: They all share an appreciation for self-discovery on the open road. With editor picks ranging from the 1930s to present day, here are 28 of the best road trip movies of all time.

This gallery was originally published in 2015. It has been updated with new information.

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It Happened One Night (1939)

It Happened One Night is one of the first great road trip movies. The Frank Capra-directed film stars Clark Cable and Claudette Colbert as a sarcastic newspaper reporter and spoiled socialite, respectively, who end up on a cross-country trip full of flirtatious banter and screwball antics. The movie was the first in history to win the “Big 5” at the Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay)—an honor that wouldn't happen again until One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975—but perhaps its biggest legacy is that scene in which Colbert flashes her leg while hitchhiking . —Caitlin Morton

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Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

The tagline of Bonnie and Clyde sums up the film pretty perfectly: "They're young…they're in love…and they kill people". Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty star as the titular duo in Arthur Penn's 1967 classic, which is not only one of the coolest road trip movies ever made, but an important breakthrough in American filmmaking. Never before had there been a mainstream Hollywood movie with the same amount of bloody violence (that final showdown !), and few other movies have been able to replicate its sexy style. —C.M.

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Easy Rider (1969)

One of the films that sparked the New Hollywood era of filmmaking (along with Bonnie and Clyde ), Easy Rider is full of artistic cinematography and tons of social commentary—not to mention Jack Nicholson in one of his first-ever roles. The film stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper (who also directed) as two bikers who head east through the American Southwest to New Orleans, searching for the “real America.” The film's soundtrack remains one of the coolest in film history, but the opening credits backed by “Born to Be Wild” might just be the best cut. —C.M.

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Five Easy Pieces (1970)

After his breakout performance in 1969's Easy Rider, Jack Nicholson took his first leading role in another road trip movie, Five Easy Pieces. Nicholson plays Bobby Dupea, an oil rigger and former piano prodigy living in California with his waitress girlfriend, Rayette. After receiving news of his father's failing health, Bobby and Rayette drive up to Washington state, encountering oddball hitchhikers, sleazy motels, and a poor diner waitress who gets one of the most famous verbal lashings of all time —and who can forget when Nicholson jumps onto the back of a truck and starts playing the piano in an impromptu freeway performance ?  Ultimately, the film is a poignant and subtle portrayal of the alienation and loneliness of a man who can't accept his blue-collar existence. —C.M.

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Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

There has never been a more charming driver than Bo "Bandit" Darville, as portrayed by Burt Reynolds in his 1970s mustachioed prime. Smokey and the Bandit follows two bootleggers (including Bandit) as they attempt to illegally transport 400 cases of beer in the American South. Bandit follows the tractor trailer in his iconic Pontiac Trans Am, wooing a runaway bride (Sally Field) and evading a relentless county sheriff (Jackie Gleason) in the process. It's not the most politically correct film by today's standards, but Burt Reynold's indelible level of cool in this movie is absolutely timeless. —C.M.

Music mayhem and Muppets the ingredients of a perfect road trip movie. The Muppet Movie chronicles Kermit the Frog's...

The Muppet Movie (1979)

Music, mayhem, and Muppets: the ingredients of a perfect road trip movie. The Muppet Movie chronicles Kermit the Frog's cross-country drive to Hollywood to pursue a career in show business, a trip dotted with original songs, tons of Muppet tagalongs, and an evil restauranteur with a burgeoning frog leg business. If you love punny, visual humor (remember the fork in the road) and celebrity cameos, this is the perfect film for you. —C.M.

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National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

Vacation was the world’s introduction to the Griswold family, led by accident-prone dad-in-chief Clark (Chevy Chase). The film spoofs the tried-and-true American tradition of the family road trip, taking the Griswold car through at least two real-life national parks—Death Valley and Grand Canyon —on their way to the fictional amusement park, Walley World. Add in an unforgettable cameo from Christie Brinkley and a hit theme song in “Holiday Road,” and you have a movie every vacationer should watch once in her lifetime. —Will Levith

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Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

Tim Burton's directorial debut introduced most of the world to Pee-Wee Herman, the exuberant man-child portrayed by Paul Reubens. Big Adventure follows the titular character during his wild trip across the U.S. to find his beloved red bicycle, visiting the Alamo and encountering quite the cast of characters (most memorably Large Marge) along the way. —C.M.

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The Sure Thing (1985)

John Cusack in any 1980s movie? Yes, please. This Rob Reiner-directed teen comedy follows Cusack's unlucky-in-love Walter Gibson as he drives from the East to West Coast in the hopes of hooking up with a beautiful woman—whom his friend assures him is a “sure thing.” The road trip features ride share boards (remember those?), hitchhiking, and plenty of awkward situations in very close quarters. Just goes to show how the confines of a car can sometimes be a hilarious breeding ground for romance. —C.M.

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

Set around Thanksgiving , Planes uses the travel rush in the days leading up to the holiday as a more-than-worthy comedic vehicle. Steve Martin goofs as Neal Page, who faces a series of travel nightmares on his trip from New York City to Chicago in advance of Turkey Day. After his flight is cancelled due to inclement weather, Page ends up sharing his trip home with salesman Del Griffith, played by the late, great John Candy. The actors' chemistry is hard to deny…especially when they’re sleeping in the same bed together on the road. —W.L.

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Thelma & Louise (1991)

In this film, best friends Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) are looking to escape their drab lives in Arkansas, and at the end of its 129 minutes, have done just that. After a stop at a roadhouse bar takes a dark turn, the pair take off for Mexico in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible ; try and evade the cops as they wind through California, Colorado, and Utah; and pick up a young Brad Pitt, for a spell, along the way. In 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the U.S. Library of Congress's National Film Registry for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance, which means that it must have gotten something right. –Katherine LaGrave

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Dumb and Dumber (1994)

In this Farrelly brothers comedy, friends Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) abandon their dreams of opening a worm pet store in their hometown, Providence, Rhode Island to return a lost briefcase to its owner in Colorado. Driving Harry’s sheepdog-styled truck, the daft duo finally make it to Aspen —but not before driving almost a third of the way across the country in the wrong direction. Ensuing hijinks include kidnapping, accidental murder, games of tag on the highway, and one very awkward encounter with a traffic cop. —C.M.

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The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp, and Hugo Weaving star as two drag queens and a trans woman crossing the Outback in a tour bus (she’s the titular Priscilla). The stark, remote Aussie landscape was the perfect complement to the gang’s outrageous style—and, more importantly, for their conversations about life, love, and identity. Priscilla was more than just a fun movie: It positively depicted LGBT characters onscreen and helped bring Australian cinema to the rest of the world. —Lilit Marcus

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Tommy Boy (1995)

Chris Farley and David Spade comprised one of the best comedic duos of the 1990s, and no film exemplified that better than Tommy Boy. Farley plays the titular Tommy, a bumbling but likeable college grad who is forced to save the family auto-parts business after his father passes away. He hits the road with his father's prissy and antagonistic assistant, Richard (Spade), in an effort to sell half a million brake pads. They inevitably hit some hilarious snags along the way, involving deer, chicken wings, the slow destruction of Richard's car, and a beautifully wicked Rob Lowe. —C.M.

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The Daytrippers (1996)

Although the road trip itself doesn’t cover too much ground (Long Island to New York City ), this still belongs on the list, mainly because it features Hope Davis, Parker Posey, and Liev Schreiber all at their mid-90s, quirky-indie-film best. Davis discovers evidence that her husband is cheating, and sets out to confront him, literally bringing her family along for the ride. It’s hilarious, and does a great job of capturing the complexities of family. —Jayna Maleri

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Smoke Signals (1998)

Some road trip movies are about friends traveling together, but the protagonists of Smoke Signals, based on a short story by Sherman Alexie, might be more accurately described as "frenemies." Thomas and Victor are two young men growing up on a Native American reservation in Idaho who set off to retrieve Victor’s father’s ashes. The long, lonely stretches of road give them time to talk, spar, watch Dances With Wolves for the thousandth time (that one’s just Thomas), and unravel what it means to be Native in America. By the end, they may not necessarily be friends, but they understand each other in a way few others could. —L.M.

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Almost Famous (2000)

Arguably the last good movie by Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous is equal parts rock n' roll and sugary sweet. The film tells the story of a high school journalist (Patrick Fugit) who is given the chance to write a story about an up-and-coming rock band for Rolling Stone , and leaves his overprotective mother to follow the musicians on the road. The baby-faced teenager learns some valuable lessons during his weeks on the band's tour bus, like the importance of honesty, the unimportance of “coolness”, and the thrills and pains of a first love. And if there was ever a case to be made about choosing cars over airplanes, Almost Famous definitely makes it. —C.M.

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O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

The Coen brothers's take on Homer's Odyssey —perhaps the ultimate road trip— O Brother, Where Art Thou? substitutes 1930s rural Mississippi for ancient Greece and features George Clooney, John Goodman, and Holly Hunter, all of whom have become repertory players in the filmmakers' universe. Also worth noting: The film has one of the best soundtracks ever recorded. —J.M.

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Y Tu Mamá También (2002)

On one level, Y Tu Mamá También is a story of two recent high school graduates, friends Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael García Bernal) who, driven by both boredom and masculine bravado, embark on a road trip through Mexico with the disillusioned (and very sexy) wife of one of Tenoch’s distant relatives in tow. They compete for her attention, with mixed results—no spoilers, here—and return home with their boyish self-assuredness thoroughly destroyed. But there’s another narrative at play: That of modern-day Mexico, whose indigenous cultures and sweeping class distinctions provide the dusty, beautiful backdrop against which the film plays out. It doesn’t don the rose-colored lenses of other road trip movies, where things seem to just work themselves out—there’s pain here, but humor, too. — Betsy Blumenthal

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Crossroads (2002)

Crossroads tells the story of three childhood friends (Britney Spears, Zoe Saldana, and Taryn Manning) who decide to take a road trip to Los Angeles after graduating high school, each in search of their own paths in life. It's honestly hard to pick the best scene from Spears's big-screen debut, which currently has a rating of 14% on Rotten Tomatoes: Is it when the dulcet tones of her “I Love Rock n' Roll” cover change the lives of everyone in a roadside karaoke bar? Is it watching every turn of events go on to inspire the lyrics of “I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”? Is it the mere fact that Britney's parents are portrayed by Dan Aykroyd and Kim Cattrall? Like I said: impossible to pick. —C.M.

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The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

This is where it all began for Ernesto "Che" Guevara (Gael García Bernal), whose road trip across Latin America with his pal Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna) opened Che's eyes to political injustice. Director Walter Salles filmed their travels through major landmarks in South America, as they were in Che's memoir, from the Andes mountain range to Machu Picchu and even a leper colony in San Pablo. – J.M.

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Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

A suicidal brother, silent son, self-help obsessed husband, druggie father, and a seven-year-old daughter with dreams of becoming  Little Miss Sunshine all join an overwhelmed mother in a beat up VW bus on one of the most dysfunctional road trips I've ever seen. That said, the car problems, family fights, and detours aren't that different from the average interstate adventure. This award-winning movie has got quirks for days and a whole lot of heart, plus the cast—which includes Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, and Alan Arkin—handles the insanity here in stride. — Meredith Carey

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Borat (2006)

Don't let the naked wrestling fool you: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (or, as most people call it, Borat ) might just be one of the most culturally aware movies of the 2000s. The semi-documentary stars Sacha Baron Cohen's character of Borat Sagdiyev, a reporter from Kazakhstan who leaves his village to learn everything there is to learn about America. During his trip from New York to California , Borat encounters rodeo attendees in Virginia, etiquette coaches in Alabama, drunk frat bros in South Carolina, and pentecostal Christians in Arizona. The on-camera interviews continue to be as hilarious and cringe-worthy today as they were in 2006. —C.M.

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Into the Wild (2007)

An adaptation of Jon Krakauer's non-fiction book of the same name, this Sean Penn-directed film follows the real-life travels of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) across North America and Alaska in the 1990s. If you've survived thus far in life without finding out how this story ends, kudos to you. Regardless of how it plays out, watching McCandless's travels, first in a Datsun Sunny and later in an abandoned bus, makes you want to get out on the trail in one of America's national parks —just maybe take a few wilderness survival classes first. – M.C.

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Zombieland (2009)

Not so much a journey of discovery as a frantic attempt to avoid the walking dead, Zombieland is a road trip movie nonetheless. The post-apocalyptic comedy follows a cast of survivalists (played by Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin) across the country as they search for a zombie-free sanctuary city. Crammed into a yellow Hummer, the gang learns all about the rules of survival (double-knot those shoelaces, folks), opening up to other people, and how not to treat Bill Murray. —C.M.

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Nebraska (2013)

Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is no road trip noir—even though it appears that way initially. Filmed in black and white (with shades of melancholy), the 2013 indie follows the slow decline of elderly Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), whom we first see walking a busy stretch of highway in Billings, Montana, desperate to get to Lincoln, Nebraska to pick up his $1 million sweepstakes winnings. His son, David (Will Forte), and wife, Kate (June Squibb), try to convince him the sweeps are a scam. But cantankerous Woody—a lifelong alcoholic with borderline dementia— wants his million bucks. So David agrees to drive him to Lincoln, leading us on a heartbreaking trip past the corn fields of middle America with a detour through the Grant family’s past. —Laura Dannen Redman

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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Quirky character studies and tales of self-discovery are great, but sometimes you just want non-stop, adrenaline-pumping action. That's certainly what you get with Mad Max: Fury Road, the latest installment in George Miller's apocalyptic franchise. This time around, Max (Tom Hardy) gets captured by the tyrannical Immortan Joe, ruler of a desert fortress; he eventually escapes and teams with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a warrior at the wheel of a big rig on a freedom mission. It's one giant chase scene through the red deserts of Namibia's Skeleton Coast , meant to stand in for post-apocalyptic Australia. —C.M

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Queen & Slim (2019)

Most blind dates end the minute they begin, but right away something is different about the one that kicks off Queen & Slim . This romantic crime drama shows the social injustices that run through many African American communities with New Orleans , Mississippi, and Florida as a backdrop. It's a true love story that has ties to slavery, feminism, masculinity, and religion. And it lays bare the ebbs and flows of a relationship and how the challenges in our lives can either push us away or bring us closer together. —Shauna Beni

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Who doesn't love a good road trip movie? Movies that capture the thrill, the fun, and, yes, sometimes the dangers of hitting the open road. Here are some of the best road trip movies to watch tonight, films that epitomize car travel. You'll find something for everyone: comedies, dramas, family-friendly, horror, classics, and more. Ready to watch? I'll make the popcorn! #RoadTrip #RoadTrips #RoadTripMovies #Movies #RoadTripInspiration

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50+ Best Road Trip Movies to Watch Tonight

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Who doesn't love a good road trip movie? Movies that capture the thrill, the fun, and, yes, sometimes the dangers of hitting the open road. Here are some of the best road trip movies to watch tonight, films that epitomize car travel. You'll find something for everyone: comedies, dramas, family-friendly, horror, classics, and more. Ready to watch? I'll make the popcorn! #RoadTrip #RoadTrips #RoadTripMovies #Movies #RoadTripInspiration

Who doesn’t love a good road trip movie? Movies that capture the thrill, the fun, and, yes, sometimes the dangers of hitting the open road. Here are some of the best road trip movies to watch tonight, films that epitomize car travel. You’ll find something for everyone: comedies, dramas, family-friendly, horror, classics, and more.

Ready to watch? I’ll make the popcorn!

Can’t get enough road trip movies? Check out our lists of The Best Road Trip Horror Movies and The Best Road Trip Movies on Netflix .

The 50+ Best Road Trip Movies

National lampoon’s vacation (1983), rain man (1988), pee-wee’s big adventure (1985), planes, trains & automobiles (1987), thelma & louise (1991), little miss sunshine (2006), the muppet movie (1979).

  • Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

Tommy Boy (1995)

Kodachrome (2017), road trip (2000), road trip: beer pong (2009), sideways (2004), to wong foo, thanks for everything julie newmar (1995), almost famous (2000), johnson family vacation (2004), the fundamentals of caring (2016), crossroads (2002), on the road (2012), the wizard (1989), zombieland (2009), into the wild (2007), mr. pig (2016), zindagi na milegi dobara (2011), it happened one night (1934), college road trip (2008), lost in america (1985), boys on the side (1995), easy rider (1969), it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world (1963), a goofy movie (1995), 4l (4 latas) (2019), motorcycle diaries (2004), nebraska (2013), cars (2006), dumb and dumber (1994), letters to juliet (2010), interstate 60 (2002), the straight story (1999), joy ride (2001), the adventures of priscilla, queen of the desert (1994), seeking a friend for the end of the world (2012), alice doesn’t live here anymore (1974), we’re the millers (2013), the long, long trailer (1953), tammy (2014), follow that bird (1985), the guilt trip (2012), kalifornia (1993), nomadland (2021), pin this list of the best road trip movies:.

In National Lampoon’s Vacation , Clark Griswold takes his family on a 2,460-mile quest for fun. The destination: Walley World (think, knock off Disney meets Six Flags). The family of four hits the road in a metallic pea Wagon Queen Family Truckster station wagon stopping to at fun roadside attractions like the Dodge City old west town and the “House of Mud”, visiting family, and hitting every roadblock imaginable along the way.


Hot shot Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) travels back home for his estranged father’s funeral only to discover that he has an autistic savant brother (who is getting his entire inheritance). With an ulterior motive, they pack up in their late father’s 1949 Buick Roadmaster to drive to Los Angeles.


After Pee-wee Herman’s beloved bicycle gets stolen, a psychic tells him where he will find it: the basement of the Alamo. Pee-wee heads off on the adventure of a lifetime to find it, encountering convicts, bikers, ghosts, and the California roadside attraction Cabazon Dinosaurs along the way. Watch this road trip movie and be sure and tell’em, Large Marge sent ya!


Neal Page (Steve Martin) just wants to get home to his family for Thanksgiving. It’s a plan that’s easier said then done when his flight gets cancelled and he encounters Del Griffith (John Candy), a traveling shower curtain ring salesman. What starts as an innocent offer to help with a hotel room turns into a road trip nobody bargained for.


Best friends Thelma and Louise take off on a weekend road trip to escape their problems with the men in their lives. Their problems only worsen when a detour goes awry and they become fugitives on the run from the law.


When seven-year-old Olive Hoover gets the chance to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California, the whole family (including mom, dad, a brother who has taken a vow of silence, a suicidal uncle, and a heroin-addicted grandfather) pack in a VW bus for a cross-country road trip from Albuquerque. After numerous setbacks, they make it to the pageant and Olive has a chance to show the audience her signature moves.


With a dream of stardom, Kermit the Frog leaves his small-town pond and takes off for Hollywood. Along the way he picks up some new friends (including Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and Gonzoa) and dodges the advances of the evil Doc Hopper, who wants Kermit as the mascot for his Frog Legs food chain.


Y Tu Mamá Tambié n (2001)

Two teenage boys, Tenoch Iturbide and Julio Zapata, try to convince Tenoch’s cousin’s wife, Luisa Cortés, to join them on a road trip to made-up fantasy beach (Boca del Cielo, Heaven’s Mouth). After confirming that her husband has been cheating on her, she agrees to go. Their road trip, set against the backdrop of Mexico, challenges the boys, their friendship, and their sexuality.


After seven years of school, dim-witted Tommy Callahan Jr. is finally a college graduate. He returns home to work for his father, Big Tom Callahan, at the family’s auto parts factory in Ohio. When Big Tom suddenly dies, Tommy Boy hits the road with his late father’s right-hand man Richard, to try to sell brake pads and save the company.

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A struggling music executive (Jason Sudeikis) ends up on a road trip with his estranged father (Ed Harris), a dying photojournalist on a journey from New York to Kansas to have his last lost rolls of Kodachrome film developed before the discontinued ink is no longer available at the lab. While the relationship plot line itself isn’t based on a true story, the premise is, with inspiration stemming from the real-life end of the road of Kodachrome as documented in “ For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas ” by A.G. Sulzberger.

College student Josh (Breckin Meyer) accidentally sends his long-distance girlfriend a sex tape that he made with another girl. Him and his friends embark on a cross-country road trip to get to her college to intercept the tape before she sees it.

A semi-sequel to Road Trip , this movie follows a college beer pong team that hits the road to join a bus full of models on their way to compete in the National Beer Pong Championship. The team faces many roadblocks along the way, leaving their future in the championships (and relationships) up in the air.


A week before Jack’s (Thomas Haden Church) wedding day, his best friend, the struggling writer Miles (Paul Giamatti), plans a road trip around California wine country to relax before the big day. Oenophile Miles wants to sit back and savor the vino, but Jack has other plans for them both. The friends spend the week dealing with divorce, love, heartbreak, and merlot.


New York drag queens Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) and Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes) win a local pageant and the chance to compete in the Drag Queen of America pageant in Hollywood, California. After meeting the green Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo) and taking her under their wing, they cash in their plane tickets, buy an old Cadillac, and set off on a cross-country adventure. Along the way the three face adversity and forge unexpected friendships.


High-school student and aspiring rock journalist William (Patrick Fugit) is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about up-and-coming rock band Stillwater. He travels around the country with them on their tour bus as he tries to get the story.


Nate Johnson (Cedric the Entertainer) and his family take a cross-country road trip to attend a family reunion to face off against his brother for “Family of the Year.”


Retired writer Ben (Paul Rudd) tries to escape his past by becoming a caregiver for a disabled teen. Trevor (Craig Roberts), who has muscular dystrophy spends his days stuck to routine, eating nothing but waffles and watching a news program about roadside attractions day after day. Together, they break out to take a road trip to see the world’s biggest pit: picking up stragglers, confronting their emotions, and testing their limits along the way.

Three estranged childhood friends, Lucy (Britney Spears), Kit (Zoe Saldana) and Mimi (Taryn Manning) take off on a cross-country road trip where they face their past, prepare for the future, and rediscover their friendship.


Though purists for the iconic novel might be disappointed, there is still no more iconic road trip story than On The Road . The movie version chooses to focus on the relationship between writer Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) and his friend Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) as they traverse the country, cuts out the solo adventures of Sal, and pulls inspiration from many sources.


Jimmy (Luke Edwards) is always running away from home. after his parents put him in a mental institution his brother Corey (Fred Savage) breaks him out and, together, they set off towards California. Along the way they meet a girl named Haley (Jenny Lewis), discover that Jimmy is a video-game prodigy, and dodge the bounty hunter the parents hired to track them down.


After a virus outbreak turns most of America’s population into zombies, an unlikely foursome of survivors takes a post-apocalyptic road trip across the country, in search of sanctuary (and Pacific Playland) in California.


Based on a true story and a book of the same name, Into the Wild follows recluse Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), AKA Alexander Supertramp, as he hitchhikes around the country, eventually making his way to Alaska , where he intends to live off of nothing but the land.


An aging pig farmer (Danny Glover) crosses the border from Southern California into Mexico to sell his prized pig to an old friend’s son. When the deal doesn’t go as planned, he keeps driving, eventually joined by his reluctant daughter (Maya Rudolph), in a last-ditch effort to find a home for the cherished hog.


In order to save his job, Bob Munro (Robin Williams) cancels his family’s Hawaii vacation and convinces them to take an RV trip to Colorado . Along the way they run into road problems, bizarre campers, and familial tension.


Three friends take a bachelor party road trip through Spain. Along the way they hit some roadblocks, confront their past and future, and have an adventure of a lifetime.


Heiress Ellie (Claudette Colbert) runs away from her father and fiancee. While escaping by bus she meets a man (Clark Gable) who helps her on her way, in exchange for her story.


High school overachiever Melanie (Raven-Symoné) really wants to go to Georgetown. But, her overbearing father (Martin Lawrence) is hoping to keep her close to home. When the opportunity to interview for her dream college comes up, her dad reluctantly agrees to take her, with the idea that he can change her mind along the way.


When David (Albert Brooks) loses his job he convinces his wife Linda (Julie Hagerty) to quit hers, get a Winnebago, and leave conventional society behind. But when plans quickly get derailed, the couple has to change course.


Musician Jane (Whoopi Goldberg) accepts a rideshare from Robin (Mary-Louise Parker) to go from New York to Los Angeles. Along the way, they stop to see Jane’s friend Holly (Drew Barrymore), run into trouble, and settle down far from their original destination.


After gaining a large profit from a drug deal in Mexico, hippies Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) outfit themselves with motorcycles and set off to discover “the real America.”


A convict on the run crashes and uses his dying words to tell the group of motorists who witness the crash about his buried treasure sparking a cross-country race to see who will find it first.


Goofy just wants some father-son bonding time. His son Max just wants to impress his crush Roxanne. When the two go on a road trip, destination Lake Destiny, Max schemes to change course and get his way.


Two old friends, Tocho (Hovik Keuchkerian) and Jean Pierre (Jean Reno), travel to visit their old friend Joseba (Enrique San Francisco) one last time before he dies, taking his estranged daughter (Ely, Susana Abaitua) along for the ride. Their journey takes them across the Sahara, crossing Africa to get to Mali, recreating and recalling the adventures the three men shared in their youth.

Based on a true story, Motorcycle Diaries depicts a road trip across South America taken by medical student Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Gael García Bernal), who later went on to be recognized as a Marxist guerrilla leader and revolutionary.


After aging Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) gets a letter claiming he’s won a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize, his son David (Will Forte) agrees to drive him from Montana to Nebraska to claim the alleged prize. (Look for a cameo by the L.P. Anderson Tire Co. Muffler Man in Billings, Montana .)


After getting turned around on the road, anthropomorphic race car Lightning McQueen ends up in trouble in Radiator Springs, a rundown Route 66 town that pays homage to all the famous sites on the Mother Road.


After watching the woman he drove to the airport leave a briefcase behind, limo driver Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and his friend Harry (Jeff Daniels) take off after her in a dog-shaped vehicle while facing one dumb situation after another.


While visiting Verona, Italy, on a pre-honeymoon with her busy chef fiancé Victor (Gael García Bernal), Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) stumbles upon the “Secretaries of Juliet,” a group of women who answer lovelorn letters left at Juliet Capulet’s balcony. She ends up answering a letter herself, sparking an overdo road trip looking for a long-lost love.


Aspiring artist Neal Oliver (James Marsden) learns to be careful what you wish for when he encounters the mysterious O.W. Grant. His overheard birthday wish catapults him onto an off-the-map road trip to find the girl of his dreams and figure out what he wants in life.


Retired Iowa farmer, Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), learns that his estranged brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) has suffered a stroke in Wisconsin. Determined to see him again, he sets off on a journey using the only vehicle he can drive: an old lawn mower.


College freshman Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker) buys a car to pick up his friend and crush Venna (Leelee Sobieski) on their way home for summer break. But plans go awry when his brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn), convinces him to pull a prank over a car’s CB radio with deadly consequences.


A trio of drag queens and transsexuals hop in a colorful bus to travel across the Australian desert to get to a new gig. Along the way they run into both trouble and compassion, and learn the real reason they are taking the trip.


As an asteroid heading towards Earth threatens humanity, insurance salesman Dodge (Steve Carell) and his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) set off together to revisit the past in their last days.


After her husband dies, aspiring singer Alice (Ellen Burstyn) hits the road with her son in search of a new life.


After getting robbed, small-time pot dealer David (Jason Sudeikis) needs to repay his supplier. He’s sent on a big-time mission to Mexico disguised as a family man on vacation, complete with an RV and a fake family.


Newlyweds Nicholas Collini (Desi Arnaz) and Tacy (Lucille Ball) buy a motor home so they can see the country. They quickly learn the ins and outs of living on the road.


After being fired from her job Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) comes home early to find her husband having an affair. Desperate to get away, she takes a road trip with her grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon) towards Niagara Falls.


At the suggestion of a social worker, Big Bird leaves Sesame Street to live with a family of Dodos in Illinois. When he realizes he had already found a home, he leaves to walk back. But the journey is a little farther than he accounted for and trouble is around every corner.


Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is traveling across the country to try to sell his environmentally-friendly cleaning product to big-box stores. When he learns about his mother ‘s (Barbara Streisand) long lost love, he invites her along with the secret mission of reuniting them at the end.


Brian Kessler (David Duchovny) and his girlfriend Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes) are working on a book about serial killers. To cut costs on their road trip to explore murder sites, they set up a ride share with strangers, Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) and his girlfriend, Adele Corners (Juliette Lewis). But they soon learn that they didn’t have to travel far to find a killer.


Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and explores an unconventional life s a nomad in the vast landscape of the American West. Along the way, she forms unbreakable bonds with others in locations like Wall Drug and beyond.


More movies that feature road trips:

  • Duel ( watch )
  • Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion ( watch )
  • Getting There: Sweet Sixteen & Licensed to Drive ( watch )
  • Wristcutters: A Love Story ( watch )
  • True Romance ( watch )
  • Flirting With Disaster ( watch )
  • Bonnie and Clyde ( watch )
  • Mad Max: Fury Road ( watch )
  • Inside Llewyn Davis ( watch )
  • Magic Mike XXL ( watch )
  • Paris, Texas ( watch )
  • Sullivan’s Travels ( watch )
  • Wild Strawberries ( watch )
  • Midnight Special ( watch )
  • The End of the Tour ( watch )
  • Over the Top ( watch )
  • Stranger Than Paradise ( watch )
  • Grandma ( watch )
  • Pierrot le Fou ( watch )
  • The Daytrippers ( watch )
  • Smoke Signals ( watch )
  • Last Day Of Summer ( watch )
  • American Honey ( watch )
  • Two for the Road ( watch )
  • Smokey and The Bandit ( watch )
  • Bad Trip ( watch )
  • The Road Ahead ( watch )
  • Hit the Road ( watch )
  • Unpregnant ( watch )
  • Hooking Up ( watch )
  • Uncle Frank ( watch )
  • Supernova ( watch )
  • The Unknown Country ( watch )
  • Bones and All ( watch )
  • The Long Dumb Road ( watch )
  • She’s in Portland ( watch )
  • Green Book ( watch )
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things ( watch )
  • The In-Between ( watch )
  • Mags and Julie Go on a Road Trip ( watch )

Who doesn't love a good road trip movie? Movies that capture the thrill, the fun, and, yes, sometimes the dangers of hitting the open road. Here are some of the best road trip movies to watch tonight, films that epitomize car travel. You'll find something for everyone: comedies, dramas, family-friendly, horror, classics, and more. Ready to watch? I'll make the popcorn! #RoadTrip #RoadTrips #RoadTripMovies #Movies #RoadTripInspiration

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Valerie Bromann is a a website manager, content creator, and writer from Chicago, Illinois (currently living in Dallas, Texas). As an avid road tripper who has visited hundreds of roadside attractions, Val always pull over for a world’s largest thing. Founder of Silly America and author of The Road Trip Journal & Activity Book , she visits, photographs, and writes about all the weird tourist destinations she visits and offers road trip planning advice and inspiration based on her own travels so you can hit the road for yourself.

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The Road Trip Journal & Activity Book - Everything You Need to Have and Record an Epic Road Trip! By Valerie Bromann

The Road Trip Journal & Activity Book

Everything you need to have and record an epic road trip, by valerie bromann.

Enjoy fun games and challenges to pass the time on your next road trip and have a keepsake to look back on for years to come with this entertaining must-have for your next vacation.

The road trip you’ve been dreaming of starts here! Journal about your stops and get to know your fellow passengers with activities and exercises designed to pass the time and bring you closer together. Instead of “Are we there yet?” you’ll find yourself asking, “We’re there already?”. Complete with prompts you can turn to while driving between locations, this journal will one day be a memento of your life-changing trip.

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good car trip movies

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


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.

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30 Best Movies About Road Trips To Inspire Your Next Adventure

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Take the opportunity to soul search, reconnect, meet kindred spirits, or heal old wounds with the best movies about road trips.

Nothing beats a hilarious and cult-classic road trip film, including the Road Trip film series itself, National Lampoon’s Family Vacation , and Planes, Trains & Automobiles .

However, “classic” doesn’t always equate to the most appropriate, and many of the best road trip movies have been releasing across the past decade.

Below, explore movies on road trips about families, reconnection, and finding yourself.

Some of these films will showcase one last chance to say goodbye or make amends before it is too late. Have those tissues ready .

But, many of the top movies about road trips are also hilariously ridiculous and filled with wild and nearly implausible adventures.

So, which films about road trips do we recommend for daring world travelers and those looking to think more deeply about the connections we make?

Which will inspire you to live life to the fullest? Let’s get started, and don’t forget to let us know your favorite road trip movies in the comments.

If you are enjoying these road trip movies, you may wish to read these road trip books .

Movies About Road Trips with side of car with side mirror showing and open road surrounded by rocks and landscape

Grab the best books and movies on road trips here:

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What We Recommend

30 Top Movies About Road Trips

By Tori Curran

National Lampoons Vacation Movie Poster with white male with family clinging to his legs as he dramatically raises a tennis racket

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

What better place to start than one of the most well-loved family road trip movies: National Lampoon’s Vacation ?

America’s favorite comedic family, The Griswolds, embarks on a cross-country road trip from Chicago to the Wally’s World amusement park in California.

Despite their best intentions to spend more quality time together as a family, anything and everything that can go wrong does.

Vandals, dirty campgrounds, a crash that leaves them stranded, and feisty Aunt Edna plague their trip; yet, they press on.

When the family finally arrives at Wally’s World, they are in for another mishap. Can the Griswold’s family vacation be salvaged?

Kodachrome film poster with older white man wearing a hat and younger white man and woman sitting on car hood

Kodachrome (2017)

Matt – on the verge of losing his record company job – learns that his estranged father, Ben, is terminally ill.

Ben is a famous photographer and wants his son to drive him to Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, the last shop that develops Kodachrome film.

His final wish is to develop his film roles before he dies.

Matt agrees, and they begin their trip along with Ben’s nurse, Zooey. They take backroads so that Ben can film the scenery.

While a tad predictable, the father-son dynamic is solid. As an ailing Ben grows sicker, Matt’s fondness for his father starts to grow, and he does all that he can to see his father’s dying wish fulfilled.

For heart-rendering movies on road trips, have the tissues ready.

Nomadland movie poster with older woman in white dress sitting in a chair on lawn with laundry hanging on line above her

Nomadland (2020)

One of the most poignant movies about road trips and the American nomad, Nomadland won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress.

Frances McDormand stars as Fern, who loses her job at the US Gypsum plant.

After also losing her husband, she sells the majority of her belongings to buy a van and drive across the US looking for work.

Fern works seasonally at an Amazon fulfillment center and finds side gigs at campgrounds and roadside attractions.

At the heart of the film, though, are the other lost souls that Fern meets along her journey, embodying the collective feelings of both loneliness and freedom of those who choose a nomadic lifestyle.

Green Book Movie poster with one man in front and one man in back of a turquoise car with blue sky

Green Book (2018)

Green Book is inspired by the true story of a tour of the South by an African American pianist and his chauffeur.

Don Shirley hires Frank Vallelonga, an Italian American bouncer known as Tony Lip, as a chauffeur and bodyguard during an eight-week concert tour of the Midwest and Deep South in 1962.

Initially, Don finds Tony unrefined, and Tony considers Don pretentious. Despite differences, they develop a friendship while facing the realities of the Jim Crow South.

Green Book joined the ranks of Academy Award-winning films about road trips with Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor.

We're the Millers movie poster with family of four white people including mom, dad, and two young girls with dirty blonde hair and arrows with sayings like runaway

We’re the Millers (2013)

When David, a small-time pot dealer, is robbed of his stash, he is forced into clearing his debt by smuggling drugs across the Mexican border.

In an effort to evade customs, he creates a fake, unsuspecting family by hiring a stripper, a 19-year-old runaway, and his awkward 18-year-old neighbor.

When “The Millers” reach the drug compound in their RV, they discover the small stash is actually two tons worth.

The extra weight causes the RV to break down, and a risky law enforcement encounter almost gets them caught.

What else can possibly go wrong in one of the best comedy and crime road trip movies on this list?

RV movie poster with green and white RV balancing on top of a thin peaked mountain

Bob Munro is looking forward to some quality time with his dysfunctional family in Hawaii.

But when his boss forces him to attend a meeting in Colorado, he disguises the change of plans as a family RV road trip. 

Of course, dozens of comedic mishaps ensue: Bob damages the parking brake, crashes the RV into various objects, and eradicates a couple of raccoons.

The Munros also encounter another traveling family who they begin to think is stalking them,

Eventually, the family begins to enjoy their trip, but the secret meeting in Colorado is still looming on the horizon.

Disasters in road trip movies like this are a pretty common and popular theme that you can’t help but eat up.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Long Haul Movie Poster with young boy wearing illustrated cape and standing on pile of common things like tire and racket with pink pig in background

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017)

For more wholesome and family-friendly movies about road trips, watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul .

This road trip film is based on the ninth book in the Wimpy Kid children’s book series and is surprisingly enjoyable, even for adults.

The Heffley children – wimpy kid Greg and his older brother Rodrick – are less than thrilled about a family road trip to a relative’s 90th birthday.

When the boys realize that an expo featuring their favorite internet star is taking place not too far from their destination, they take matters into their own hands.

Winning a pig at a carnival and a rival family stealing the Heffley’s belongings round out the hijinks.

While the trip is far from perfect, at the heart of it lies a family who just needs time to reconnect.

Watch even more movies based on fantastic books .

Little Miss Sunshine Movie Poster with kids and adults running toward open door of a yellow vintage RV

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

One of the best road trip movies of all time, you’ll fall in love with Little Miss Sunshine and the quirky Hoover family.

Olive is an aspiring beauty queen being coached by her grandfather, who was recently kicked out of his retirement home for doing drugs.

Learning Olive qualifies for the “Little Miss Sunshine” pageant, the family – including her parents, a struggling uncle, and half brother who has taken a vow of silence – road trips from New Mexico to California to support Olive.

Both personal and road trip setbacks plague the family, but they press on to the pageant, only to realize that Olive, a pretty regular girl, doesn’t stand a chance.

Sideways Film Poster with illustrated tipped over bottle with two people laying sideways in wine bottle

Sideways (2004)

Featured on our list of movies about wine , Sideways follows two friends on a pre-wedding road trip through California’s Santa Ynez Valley wine country.

Miles, a struggling writer and wine enthusiast, and Jack, soon to be wed, embark on a single-guy’s last hoorah.

Miles has a weekend of fine wine and dining planned, but Jack is looking for a fling.

He finds it in Stephanie while her friend Maya seems to take an interest in Miles. Things get complicated when Miles lets it slip that Jack is engaged.

We especially love the idea of taking their picturesque wine country road trip ourselves!

Sideways also makes for a great wine book read before or after the movie.

Road Trip movie poster with seven younger white people two of whom are a guy and girl almost kissing and the center man holding out his hand with a jagged tattooed line

Road Trip (2000)

Follow a band of college buddies as they road trip from Ithaca, New York to Austin, Texas to intercept an illicit video accidentally mailed to one of their girlfriends.

Josh slips up and cheats on his long-distance girlfriend, Tiffany, recording the act on his camcorder.

When his buddy accidentally mails the evidence instead of a recorded love letter, the pals hit the road to catch the tape in the mail before it’s delivered.

Then, they must make it back to Ithaca for a midterm to avoid flunking their class.

This is, of course, one of the most famous movies on road trips ever made – and you either love it or despise it.

Road Trip Beer Pong Movie Poster with group of college-aged men and women with white man in front throwing beer pong balls

Road Trip: Beer Pong (2009)

Also known as Road Trip 2, this sequel to the first Road Trip film follows three college buddies en route to a beer pong tournament.

Andy is convinced by his friends to stop worrying about his long-distance girlfriend, Katy, and have some fun.

He and his friends decide to hit the road and follow Jenna – Andy’s ex-girlfriend who is now a beer pong model – and enter the tournament.

What can go wrong when a bus full of gorgeous Christina girls drops you off in your girlfriend’s hometown, while you’re on the road chasing an ex?

Reminiscent of other college comedies, like American Pie, know that the road trip film series is hilarious but quite inappropriate.

Road to Paloma Film Poster with two people riding motorcycles in dark landscape with brown and yellow color tinting

Road to Paloma (2014)

TW: sexual assault

An alternative to the many vacation-style movies on road trips, The Road to Paloma has a much darker plot.

After murdering his mother’s rapist, a Native American named Wolf flees on his motorcycle across the American West.

He plans to head to his sister’s property and spread his mother’s ashes peacefully. However, the FBI threatens his plans.

Wolf soon meets up with a drifter named Cash and learns that vigilante justice most often comes at a price. Will Wolf ever find redemption?

The Leisure Seeker Movie Poster with older white man and woman with redish hair and sunglasses embracing

The Leisure Seeker (2017)

For years, John and Ella Spencer have enjoyed family road trips in their RV, nicknamed the Leisure Seeker.

Now, John, a retired teacher, is suffering from dementia, and Ella is ill herself.

Against their doctors’ advice, they embark on one final road trip in their beloved RV from their home in Massachusetts to the Hemingway House in the Florida Keys.

As is true with many couples, close quarters and ailments bring out both the best and the worst of John and Ella.

For drama-comedy road trip movies, The Leisure Seeker will stay with you for quite some time.

Unpregnant movie poster with young white boy and girl sitting on top of car that's on a road surrounded by rocky landscape

Unpregnant (2020)

TW: abortion

A poignant road trip movie, seventeen-year-old Veronica learns that she is pregnant but cannot get an abortion in her home state of Missouri without her parents’ permission.

She convinces her former best friend Bailey to take a road trip with her to New Mexico for the procedure.

Amidst a series of unfortunate and often hilarious circumstances, including getting picked up by a pair of pro-lifers, Veronica and Bailey begin to open up to each other again and repair their fractured friendship.

Everybodys Fine Movie Poster with two white men and two white women with someone capturing their picture on a digital camera

Everybody’s Fine (2009)

Eight months after losing his wife, Frank Goode is looking forward to a visit from his children.

When each cancels last minute, he sets out on a cross-country road trip to visit each of them individually.

Frank learns quickly that his children’s lives aren’t as fine as they appear to be.

More lies and deceit surface when Frank begins to piece together a secret that three of the siblings have been keeping regarding the fourth.

For the best road trip movies about redemption and connection, Frank’s experience won’t let you down.

Tommy Boy Movie Poster with two white men in jackets and ties standing in middle of the road

Tommy Boy (1995)

Tommy works as an executive for his father’s auto-parts conglomerate; a position he didn’t earn and doesn’t work hard at.

When his father suddenly passes on his own wedding day and the bank reneges on a loan, the company’s future is in jeopardy.

Tommy devises a plan and sets out with the company’s accountant on a cross-country sales trip.

But, when they catch his late father’s wife entangled with the man she called her son, they realize they’ve been roped into a con artist’s game plan.

Chris Farley, David Spade, and Dan Aykroyd deliver in one of our favorite comedy movies about road trips.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Movie Poster with white man wearing large sunglasses and hat smoking but his neck is slightly distorted to fit title and swirling sky

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a cult classic, dark comedy film following Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo’s drug-fueled road trip to Las Vegas.

In a rented red convertible, the two men hit the road with a suitcase full of narcotics in order so that Dr. Gonzo can cover a motorcycle race for a magazine.

Going through their stash at an alarming rate, they behave abhorrently, trash their hotel room, and run up an alarming room service tab.

This road trip film fantastically portrays not only an excessive drug binge but the shortcomings of the 1960s and the American Dream.

Rain Man movie poster with two guys in jeans walking down road and one is carrying a backpack

Rain Man (1988)

Rain Man isn’t just one of the best road trip movies, it’s one of the best films of all time.

Car dealer Charlie Babbit returns home to Cincinnati following the death of his father.

There, he learns that he has an older, autistic brother named Raymond and that their father has left almost all of his fortune for Raymond’s care.

Motivated by money, Charlie checks Raymond out of his institution to head back to Los Angeles. The cross-country road trip will change both of their lives forever.

The slow progression of the road trip due to Raymond’s strict routines gives Charlie time to understand and appreciate his brother’s complexities.

Wristcutters Movie Poster with black hand slit at wrist with red blood coming out on yellow traffic sign

Wristcutters (2006)

TW: suicide

After breaking up with his girlfriend, Zia kills himself and wakes up in a purgatory filled with other suicide victims.

He befriends Eugene, a Russian rocker. After learning that his ex-girlfriend, Desiree, also took her own life after Zia’s death, the two friends embark on a road trip to find her in the afterlife.

Along the way, they also encounter a hitchhiker and a commune leader looking for his dog who’s been abducted by a cult leader.

Eccentric and funny, Wristcutters is one of the most unique movies about road trips and the meaning of life.

Two for the Road Film Poster with white person wearing large white sun glasses

Two for the Road (1967)

Mark, a wealthy architect, and Joanna Wallace road trip through France in their convertible to celebrate the completion of a building project.

Tensions between the two are clear, though, and as they drive towards Saint Trope; Mark and Joanna reminisce about past memories and indiscretions.

Scenes from the past are juxtaposed with the couple’s discussions of previous events that have occurred along the same road.

Both have been unfaithful and unhappy, but what does the future hold for them?

If you’re looking for an old-time road trip film, you know Audrey Hepburn delivers.

Planes trains and automobiles movie poster with two older men sitting on a bench one in blue winter jacket and the other in suit and red tie

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

Neal Page is a control freak and advertising executive on a business trip in New York City, trying to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving.

When his flight is delayed, he meets an annoying shower curtain ring salesman also traveling to Chicago.

A diverted flight and broken down train further complicate their journey home.

Del and Neal are reunited at a rental car facility, and despite their frustrations, commit to the trek to Chicago together. A surprise ending will bring the film full circle.

Planes Trains & Automobiles is another one of those cult-classic road trip movies on this list.

She’s in Portland Movie Poster with burnt orange car with people in it driving with blue sky

She’s in Portland (2020)

Wes, a thirty-something-year-old family man, is hoping to reconnect with his college friend Luke. While feeling envious of each other’s lives, they each feel trapped in their own.

Wes convinces Luke to join him on a business road trip up the coast of California to find Luke’s “one that got away.”

At the heart of this road trip film, though, is a genuine perspective of work, marriage, and life’s commitments in your thirties.

The backdrop of Highway 1 isn’t bad to look at either!

The Fundamentals of Caring Film Poster with man and woman standing and person sitting between them

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

Ben is a writer from Seattle avoiding his wife’s attempts to serve him with divorce papers. Following another tragedy, he becomes the caregiver for Trevor, a disabled teen.

Trevor is enamored with roadside attractions. Ben convinces Trevor’s mother to allow them to take a road trip to see the world’s deepest pit. Trevor also wants to see his estranged father.

Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker named Dot and a pregnant woman named Peaches.

The most unlikely connections make this one of our favorite road trip movies that make you think about friendships and caring for others.

Watch even more great friendship movies .

Braking for Whales Movie Poster with two people one standing and the other sitting on top of an RV with blue cloudy sky

Braking for Whales (2019)

The death of their mother brings an estranged brother and sister together.

To gain their inheritance, the siblings must honor their mother’s final request: to have her remains placed into the body of a whale.

En route to a Texas aquarium to follow through on their mother’s absurd wish, Star and Brandon encounter more than just adventure.

They are forced to face one another and their own demons, including Brandon’s sexuality and Star’s child that she’s all but abandoned.

This is one of many road trip movies about healing and self-discovery, but the unique angle and potential to be relatable make it stand out.

Bad Trip movie poster with two people of color with arms crossed facing each other on pink background

Bad Trip (2021)

Part buddy comedy, part hidden camera prank show, Bad Trip sets the stage for a hilarious and outrageous cross country road trip.

Two friends, Chris and Bud, embark on a trip from Florida to New York City to catch Chris’s long-time crush.

They’ve all but stolen Bud’s sister’s car while she’s in jail to make the trip, but she manages to escape from jail to run after them.

All the while, real people are pulled into their raunchy and hilarious pranks. At the end of the movie, don’t miss their reactions when they find out they’ve been part of a prank movie.

Johnson Family Vacation Film Poster with POC around the title on a sign

Johnson Family Vacation (2004)

Nate Johnson longs to make amends with his gorgeous wife from whom he’s separated and spend more time with his children.

Miraculously, he manages to convince them all to join him on a cross-country drive to a family reunion.

On their way from California to Missouri, they encounter a myriad of hiccups, including an eccentric hitch-hiker, a semi-truck trying to run them off the road, and getting arrested for littering.

Johnson Family Vacation is where family adventure road trip movies meet stories of healing relationships and family ties.

Supernova Movie poster with two white men's faces and they are leaning into each other

Supernova (2020)

Sam and Tusker have been partners for 20 years.

After Tusker is diagnosed with early-onset dementia, the couple travels across England in their RV visiting family, friends, and memorable places from their past together.

One of the most poignant and beautiful movies about road trips, Supernova reminds us that all we truly have of someone else is time.

With talks of suicide and mourning the loss of a loved one, it’s sure to tug at the heartstrings of anyone in a loving relationship.

The Guilt Trip Movie Poster with white male and woman driving car and he's looking back as she pinches his cheek

The Guilt Trip (2012)

Andy is about to set out on the adventure road trip of a lifetime.

Before he does, he makes a visit to his overbearing mother, Joyce, and learns about Andrew, a man she was previously in love with and whom Andy was named after.

Against his better judgment, Andy invites his mother on the road trip, concealing his intentions to bring her out to California to see Andrew.

Along their journey – which includes Joyce calling Andy’s ex-girlfriend and a steak-eating contest – Andy realizes that he has more in common with his aggravating mother than he thought.

They begin to enjoy their time together until Joyce learns why Andy actually invited her.

Deceit is a common theme for familial movies on road trips – and the outcome can go one of two ways.

Come as You Are Movie Poster with four guys in a camper van and woman in black dress showing legs on top

Come as You Are (2019)

Three disabled men, Scotty, Matt, and Mo, take a road trip from Colorado to Montreal to lose their virginities at a brothel servicing special needs clients.

They are accompanied by a jaded travel nurse who drives and assists them.

This isn’t another comical, sex-motivated road trip, though. The film delicately presents the needs of the disabled community and offers us an opportunity to be empathetic and compassionate.

The one caveat of this inclusive road trip film is that all three main actors are able-bodied themselves.

Come As You Are is a remake of the acclaimed Belgian film, Hasta la Vista , which is based on the real-life of Asta Philpot.

The Trip to Spain Movie Poster with two white men at table with food and one pouring wine into a glass

The Trip to Spain (2017)

For more movies about road trips abroad, catch Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon – English and Welch actor comedians – who star as fictionalized versions of themselves on a culinary road trip through Spain.

Nostalgic of a trip he took as a young man, Steve convinces Rob to accompany him on a road trip from the Northern to Southern coast of Spain. 

In addition to sampling epic Spanish fare, the men will talk about their respective lives, relationships, fatherhood, and midlife crises, all with an heir of witty British satire.

The Trip to Spain is part of Coogan and Brydon’s satirical culinary film series including The Trip and The Trip to Italy .

Where To Read More About & Watch These Movies On Road Trips:

Amazon Prime Video  |  Netflix  |  IMDb | Hulu | Max

Save The Best Road Trip Movies For Later:

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Watch the best movies on road trips here :

Thank you to TUL contributor, Tori Curran from Explore With Tori

Tori Curran Explore with Tori white, blonde woman hiking with backpack and young child on back in carrier

Tori (pronouns: she/her) is a children’s librarian and mom to two boys living in New York. She’s an avid traveler, nature enthusiast, and writer, encouraging families to get outside and start exploring the world. When she’s not hiking or traveling, you can find her lost in a historical fiction book, watching Bravo reruns, or obsessively decluttering her home.

What are your favorite films about road trips?

Which movies about road trips do you love and re-watch over and over again? Let us know in the comments!

What To Watch Next:

Movies Around The World Hiking Movies Top Audiobooks For Road Trips

Tori Curran Explore with Tori white, blonde woman hiking with backpack and young child on back in carrier

Tori Curran

Tori (pronouns: she/her) is a mom to two boys, living in New York but adventuring everywhere, usually with a toddler on her back. She's an avid traveler, nature junkie, and writer, encouraging families to get outside and start exploring the world. When she's not hiking or traveling, you can find her lost in a book, watching Bravo reruns, or obsessively decluttering her home. Tori owns the family and adventure blog, Explore with Tori .

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10 Best Buddy Road Trip Movies, According to Rotten Tomatoes


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In Hollywood, certain staples will never die , no matter how many years go by. Some clichés like the less attractive sidekick, superhero films, the nerdy underdog, or the Oscar-bating based on a true story movie are built into the fabric of Hollywood. These clichés make audiences feel comfortable because they already know what to expect. One trope that's constantly repeated is the buddy road trip film.

Whether it's Rainman or Train, Planes and Automobiles , movies where two characters don't get along but are stuck in a car together and end up being good friends by the end always seem to garner an audience. However, being a cliché doesn't make a film great; it needs the right balance of heart and familiar tropes to become classic and not commonplace.

10 Plains, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

In 1987, John Hughes took a break from teen dramas to make one of the most iconic Holiday and buddy road trip films of all time, laying the foundation for modern iterations of these types of movies.

RELATED: 10 Romantic Movies That Use Cliché Tropes to Their Advantage

This classic film is instantly hilarious because fans can relate to all the hi-jinks that come with having a flight delayed during the holidays. Legendary comics Steve Martin and John Candy masterfully play off of each other like the Harlem Globetrotters of comedy. Martin's conservative straight-man character meshes perfectly with Candy's annoyingly offbeat salesman, setting up the prototype for all the following buddy road trip films.

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 trip film to new levels of ridiculousness and funny.

This classic comedy about friendship is choked full of immature yet deceptively smart jokes . Whether complaining about not being able to find good jobs under 40 hours a week or thinking Aspen is a tropical resort, this film's characters are so silly that fans are left with no choice but to laugh, even if it's despite themselves. This vital film represents a turning point from the cheesy hi-jinks of the 80s to the more irreverent comedy of the 90s.

8 Thelma and Louise (1991)

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

This female-led road trip dramedy about two women on the run from the law was a cultural phenomenon and spoke up for a segment of the population not used to being heard.

Whether it's the epic last scene where they drive off a cliff or introducing the world to Brad Pitt , there's a lot that makes this film a classic. More importantly, this film highlighted women's exhaustion at being objectified and showed two female characters unwilling to take it, which was a novelty at the time. Scenes like Thelma and Louise blowing up an eighteen-wheeler belonging to a truck driver who berated them resonated with women who might have been in similar situations but couldn't do anything as drastic, making this one of the most influential movies of the decade.

7 Midnight Run (1988)

This Golden Globe-nominated action about a bail bondsman who has to retrieve a criminal who skipped town keeps the audience laughing and guessing what will happen next.

Midnight Run proves Robert Deniro isn't just an outstanding dramatic actor but also has impressive comedic timing. Deniro and Charles Grodin play their characters straight and not wacky, making them even funnier because it feels natural. More impressively, the audience never knows what will happen next in this cat-and-mouse chase between the two leads, the mob, and the police, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats after every plot twist and turn .

6 Easy Rider (1969)

This groundbreaking film about two free-spirited bikers struck a chord in counterculture for daring to question the legitimacy of freedom in America.

RELATED: Groundbreaking Films Made In The 1960s

Easy Rider is considered the first American arthouse film and started a wave of independent filmmakers who, similar to the film's main characters, wanted freedom from the establishment. As the characters ride through America, they encounter everything wrong, including bigotry, consumerism, and violence. However, there's no putting a halo on counterculture as the drug-selling cyclists are also contributing to consumerism in this time capsule of the late 60s .

5 Rain Man (1988)

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

This road trip film is about a down-on-his-luck collectibles dealer who kidnaps his autistic brother never fails to leave fans misty-eyed.

Dustin Hoffman delivers the performance of a lifetime as he disappears into a character with autism. At the same time, Tom Cruise manages to make the audience empathetic to a flawed character like Tommy, who uses people for a living. While cliché of the genre, seeing Tommy go from treating his brother as a nuisance at the beginning of the trip to genuinely caring for him by the end leaves the audience emotionally satisfied, showing some tropes never get old.

4 Blues Brothers (1980)

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

This musical, based on an SNL Sketch about two brothers traveling to find their old bandmates to raise money to save a Catholic Orphanage, is as wild as it sounds in all the best ways.

Blue Brothers is full of insane comedy moments fans expect from SNL, including floating angry nuns, Carry Fisher shooting a rocket launcher at the brothers, and a two-hundred cop car pile-up. When things can't get crazier, characters break out into song, including amazing performances from Aretha Franklin , James Brown , and Ray Charles that are worth the watch alone.

3 Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Bert Reynolds and Sally Field star in this box office smash with a charismatic lead character who single-handedly raised the sales of Pontiac Trans Ams in the late 70s.

This unique film almost entirely takes place in cars, making it the ultimate road trip film. Decades later, its practical car stunts are even more fun compared to today's CGI-laden chases. However, the film is sold on the cult of personality, Smokey. Smokey's confidence and bravado endear him to viewers even though he's a criminal. Sally Field also bewitches audiences as the lovable runaway bride who's swept up in the madness like the viewer. Refreshingly, Fields is more than a ditzy sidekick but is running from the responsibility of marriage by doing something completely irresponsible. Whether running from cops or a groom, this film is ultimately about defying authority.

2 Toy Story (1995)

This groundbreaking Pixar film about toys that come to life when no one is looking was the first completely CGI animated movie and taught a generation of kids what true friendship means.

Toy Story features timeless voice acting performances by Tim Allen and Tom Hanks , making fans forget they're watching a child's action figures . When rival toys get lost and have to join forces to find their way home, fans are brought to tears with its message about people getting over their differences to work together and the necessity of friendship.

1 Logan (2017)

This film is like an ultra-violent family road trip with Professor X as the senile grandpa, X-23 as the annoying daughter, and Logan as the dad trying to keep everything together.

Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart's twenty-year friendship shows on screen. Fans can feel the bond between Logan and Professor X, including arguing every five seconds, showing how comfortable they are with each other. Both characters are also the most vulnerable audiences have ever seen them, with Logan slowly dying and the once genius professor's mind deteriorating. Similar to the film's message, the grand illusion of our heroes is wholly destroyed. However, like a real father, Professor X still has one more lesson to teach Logan after he's tasked with protecting X-23 he learns being a hero isn't about how strong he is but about choosing to help others.

NEXT: 10 Best Buddy Comedies Of The 2000s, Ranked By IMDb

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12 Great Road Trip Movies to Satisfy Your Wanderlust

Not quite ready to travel see america from the comfort of your couch.

Tim Appelo,

Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis star in Thelma and Louise and Chevy Chase in National Lampoons Vacation

Don't feel quite safe just yet to take a big road trip this summer? Take a virtual voyage with the greatest stars on earth in the best road movies ever made, from the flick that cheered America in the Great Depression ( It Happened One Night ) to 2019's Oscar (and AARP Movies for Grownups ) best picture winner Green Book . See America from the comfort of your couch all summer long — no turn signals required!

It Happened One Night  (1934)

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Originally titled  Night Bus , Frank Capra's snappy comedy about an unemployed reporter (Clark Gable) and a spoiled runaway heiress (Claudette Colbert) on the road to New York swept the five top Oscars and influenced every romantic comedy ever since. Nobody could top Clark's hitchhiking lesson — except Colbert, who summons an instant ride by flashing her gams.

Watch it now:  Amazon , YouTube , iTunes , Google Play , Vudu

Sullivan's Travels (1941)

In this Preston Sturges satire, a Hollywood director (Joel McCrea, who shares top billing with Veronica Lake) sick of making silly comedies like  Hey-Hey in the Hayloft , decides to make a  Grapes of Wrath -like serious picture called  O Brother, Where Art Thou?  (which inspired the Coen brothers film title). To experience the downtrodden life, he travels the U.S. disguised as an indigent soul.

Watch it now:   Amazon , iTunes , YouTube , Google Play , Vudu

Easy Rider (1969)

In the role that made him a star, Jack Nicholson hops on a chopped-out motorbike with hippies Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper on their epic, doomed trip from L.A. to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (filmed during the real Mardi Gras). A total mess of a film, but its open-road counterculture spirit hit it big. When it made a zillion dollars, Fonda said the movie execs who doubted it “went from shaking their heads in incomprehension to nodding their heads in incomprehension.” But viewers understood, and remember.

Watch it now:   Amazon , YouTube , iTunes , Google Play , Vudu

RELATED:  Want to keep the Sixties vibe rolling? Check out our Best Movies of the 1960s .

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

The movie that launched the career of John Hughes ( Home Alone ) started as a classic National Lampoon story that began, “If Dad hadn't shot Walt Disney in the leg, it would have been our best vacation ever.” In his greatest deadpan performance, Chevy Chase is Chicago's Mr. Griswold, who takes his clan to California's Walley World in an unlucky car trip every survivor of the 1950s or ‘60s can relate to.



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Watch it now:  Amazon , iTunes , YouTube , Google Play , Vudu , Sling

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

All the aloof urban executive (Steve Martin) wants is to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving, but malevolent fate forces him to get there via many forms of thwarted transportation, alongside a sweet, infuriatingly annoying traveling shower-curtain ring salesman (John Candy). They're as funny as Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in  The Odd Couple .

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Watch it now:   Amazon , YouTube , Google Play , Vudu , iTunes , HBO Max

Rain Man (1988)

A crooked Lamborghini salesman (Tom Cruise) and his long-lost brother, an autistic savant genius (Dustin Hoffman), see the nation in a 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible. At first con man Cruise wants to screw Hoffman out of their father's $3 million inheritance, but instead of a mark, he discovers a brother whose uncanny skills come in handy gambling in Vegas.

Watch it now : Vudu , YouTube , Google Play , iTunes

RELATED:  Love a Tom Cruise flick? Don't miss our critics’ ranking of the 10 best Tom Cruise movies, here .

Midnight Run (1988)

In Robert De Niro's first comedy, and first mainstream commercial hit, he's an irritable bounty hunter who has five days to take a passive-aggressive Mafia accountant (Charles Grodin) from New York to Los Angeles for a big payoff. Pursued by the mob, the FBI and another bounty hunter, they steal cars, take planes, hop freight trains, dive into rapids, and deceive and insult each other to hilarious effect.

Watch it now:   Amazon , iTunes , YouTube , Vudu , Hulu

Thelma & Louise (1991)

When shy Thelma ( Geena Davis ) and brassy Louise ( Susan Sarandon ) take a weekend road trip from Arkansas and Louise shoots a would-be rapist assaulting Thelma, what's a girl to do but put pedal to the metal in their ‘66 T-Bird and flee with Thelma to — and right into — the Grand Canyon, pursued by kindly cop Harvey Keitel? Butch Cassidy and Sundance got nothing on these two iconic gals.

Watch it now:   Vudu , YouTube , iTunes , Google Play

True Romance (1993)

In the most romantically satisfying Quentin Tarantino movie (sweetened by director Tony Scott), a gold-hearted floozy ( Patricia Arquette ) and a comic-book store clerk (Christian Slater) light out cross-country for Hollywood, hunted by gangsters and cops. Brad Pitt is hilarious as a Soundgarden-loving stoner, and the acting duel between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken alone is worth the trip.

Watch it now:  Vudu , YouTube , Google Play , Hulu , Sling , Starz

Flirting With Disaster (1996)

Mary Tyler Moore brilliantly plays against type as the control-freak adoptive mother of a neurotic scientist (Ben Stiller) who hits the road to find his birth parents — who may or may not be an appalling Grateful Dead-loving couple (Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda ) in New Mexico. Fresh, original and more fun than a real road trip.

Watch it now:   Amazon , YouTube , Google Play , Vudu , Hulu , iTunes

Almost Famous (2000)

Cameron Crowe was a 15-year-old journalism genius who traveled with Led Zeppelin and others and turned his memories into a road-trip masterpiece about his coming of age. “It's as if Huckleberry Finn came back to life in the 1970s, and instead of taking a raft down the Mississippi, got on the bus with the band,” said Roger Ebert. And you're invited along — to sing “Tiny Dancer” along with everyone on the bus.

Watch it now:  Amazon , YouTube , Vudu , Google Play , iTunes , Hulu

Green Book (2018)

In a feel-good take on a complex time, an Italian-American bouncer ( Viggo Mortensen ,  The Lord of the Rings ) chauffeurs an upper-crust black pianist (Mahershala Ali,  True Detective ) on a tour of the picturesque but perilous 1960s South. The odd couple squabble and become pals, while these two fine actors perform an exquisite duet.

Watch it now:   Amazon , Vudu , Google Play , YouTube , Hulu , Showtime

Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at  Entertainment Weekly , and a critic and writer for  The Hollywood Reporter, People , MTV,  The Village Voice  and  LA Weekly .

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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)

good car trip movies

‘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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

‘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)

good car trip movies

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 .

Read More: Best Space Movies on Netflix

9. The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

good car trip movies

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 .

Read More: Most Disturbing Movies on Netflix

8. Seventeen (2019)

good car trip movies

‘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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

‘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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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)

good car trip movies

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 .

Read More: Best Serial Killer Movies on Netflix


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50 Best Family Road Trip Movies for All Ages (2024)

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Looking for some new family road trip movies for your next movie marathon? You’ve come to the right place!

I made this before and during my family’s epic road trip from Las Vegas, Nevada to the southern tip of Argentina. We’ve watched lots family road trip movies over the last few years driving across two continents!

And I couldn’t help but share our exhaustive list with you, in case you need some family road trip inspiration.

Here’s a curated list of family-friendly movies that revolve around the theme of road trips, offering a perfect blend of humor, adventure, and heartwarming family moments.

Each family trip movie brings its unique selling point, delivering a positive message and embodying important values.

Get the popcorn ready and enjoy these cinematic journeys! 🍿🍿

My Top 3 Picks: Family Road Trip Movies

There are a lot of good movies on this list. They all deserve a watch at some point. But if you’re looking for a quick pick option, here are my three favorite family road trip movies to watch tonight!

good car trip movies

✅ Parental nostalgia

✅ Good themes

✅ Unforgettable characters

good car trip movies

✅ Captivating stories

✅ Memorable characters

✅ Beautiful animation

good car trip movies

National Lampoon’s Vacation

✅ Relatable characters

✅ Heartwarming family dynamics

✅ Parental Nostalgia

👉 Some videos on this list are available for free with an Amazon Prime Video account!

Classic Family Road Trip Movies (Pre-1985)

1. the wizard of oz (1939).

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h41m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 8.1/10 | Watch Now!

The Wizard of Oz

Follow Dorothy and her companions as they travel down the yellow brick road in search of the magical Wizard of Oz. I love the wholesome themes in this movie! Along the way, they make friends, face obstacles, and learn valuable lessons.

The Wizard of Oz showcases the transformative nature of a road trip, as it allows Dorothy to discover her strength and helps her realize that home is truly where the heart is.

From the enchanting landscapes to the vibrant characters, this classic film captures the essence of adventure and self-discovery that can be found on the open road. It’s been one of my favorites since I was a kid.

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2. Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 2 hr 6 m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 8.4/10 | Watch Now!

Swiss Family Robinson (Vault Disney Collection)

Embark on an exciting journey with the Robinson family as they navigate life on a deserted island after a shipwreck in the captivating movie, Swiss Family Robinson.

This timeless classic combines adventure, heartwarming storytelling, and valuable life lessons. It was one of my favorite movies as a kid!

From building a remarkable treehouse to exploring the island’s wonders, the Robinsons’ thrilling experience will captivate both kids and adults.

With themes of unity, resilience, and teamwork, Swiss Family Robinson inspires problem-solving and a love for nature. It’s the perfect source of inspiration for unforgettable family trips and adventures .

3. The Sound of Music (1965)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 2h54m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 8.1/10 | Buy Now!

Sound of Music 50th Anniversary Edition

Join the Von Trapp family as they escape Austria during World War II, finding joy through music. While you can also watch the remake with Carrie Underwood, I prefer the Julie Andrews original.

Yes, they walk instead of driving. At least part of the time. But for a good reason! This beloved classic offers enchanting entertainment for all ages and celebrates family values and the power of love.

It’s not just entertaining, but also educational, providing insights into Austria’s history and culture. With its timeless appeal, The Sound of Music creates a special generational and adds a nostalgic touch to your family experience.

4. American Graffiti (1973)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h50m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.4/10 | Watch Now!

American Graffiti

American Graffiti is a captivating family film set in the early 1960s. It takes us on a thrilling journey with a group of teenagers during an unforgettable summer night. I think this one is best suited for families with teens.

With its nostalgic charm, relatable characters, unforgettable soundtrack, and valuable life lessons, it’s an ideal pick for a family movie night.

Rated PG, this coming-of-age tale is suitable for the whole family to enjoy. So grab your popcorn and embark on a cinematic road trip with American Graffiti!

5. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h36m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.0/10 | Watch Now!

Smokey and the Bandit

This action comedy follows a truck driver who agrees to transport illegal beer across state lines. I watched this one with my grandpa when I was a kid!

This American action-comedy is a classic road trip film that captures the essence of adventure and camaraderie.

The movie follows the thrilling adventures of Bo “Bandit” Darville and his loyal sidekick Cledus “Snowman” Snow as they embark on a daring cross-country journey through the southern United States.

With laughs and adventures for the whole family, it continues to resonate with audiences of all ages, making it a timeless choice for a movie night.

6. The Muppet Movie (1979)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h35m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.6/10 | Watch Now!

The Muppet Movie: The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition

The Muppet Movie is a beloved family-friendly road trip film that captivates audiences of all ages.

With its infectious humor, catchy songs, and lovable Muppet characters, this 1979 musical comedy offers wholesome entertainment for the whole family.

Join Kermit and his friends on a quirky cross-country journey filled with hilarious mishaps, unexpected encounters, and heartwarming moments.

This timeless gem weaves in positive themes of friendship, following your dreams, and embracing diversity, making it a must-watch for memorable family movie nights.

7. The Blues Brothers (1980)

🍿 Rating: R | ⏰ Length: 2h13m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.9/10 | Watch Now!

The Blues Brothers

The Blues Brothers, directed by John Landis and released in 1980, is widely regarded as one of the greatest road trip movies of all time. I have a soft spot for it because it was filmed in our hometown, Chicago !

The Blues Brothers is an action-packed comedy that combines car chases, comical shootouts, and unforgettable musical performances.

With lovable characters, positive themes, and family-friendly content, it’s a great choice for families. The film’s iconic music and cultural impact add to its timeless appeal.

8. The Cannonball Run (1981)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h35m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 6.2/10 | Buy Now!

The Cannonball Run

The Cannonball Run is a comedic film about a trans-American road race with eccentric characters competing for victory.

It entertains families, featuring a star-studded cast and humorous situations. The fast-paced adventure may captivate younger viewers who enjoy action and adventure.

The film carries a nostalgic appeal for older audiences and is rated PG, so I think it’s better suited for older kids.

9. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

🍿 Rating: R | ⏰ Length: 1h38m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.3/10 | Watch Now!

National Lampoon's Vacation [Blu-ray]

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) is a timeless family road trip movie that combines humor, relatable family dynamics, and iconic performances.

It’s one of David’s all-time favorite movies!

The summer vacation movie follows the Griswold family on their cross-country journey to Walley World, encountering comedic mishaps and fostering moments of laughter and connection.

With its memorable quotes and enduring appeal, it remains a beloved classic that can be enjoyed by multiple generations.

10. Paris, Texas (1984)

🍿 Rating: R | ⏰ Length: 2h35m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 8.1/10 | Watch Now!

Paris, Texas

Paris, Texas is a unique road trip film directed by Wim Wenders. The story follows Travis Henderson as he embarks on a journey to reconnect with his family, exploring themes of forgiveness and self-discovery.

With stunning visuals and an introspective approach, the film captures the vastness of the American Southwest and delves into the emotional landscapes of its characters.

It stands out in the genre for its exploration of personal relationships and the complexities of redemption and is better suited for families with older kids or teens .

Paris, Texas defies typical road trip movie tropes by exploring human emotions, visual storytelling, and reflective tone. It’s a unique and thought-provoking entry into the genre.

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Family Road Trip Movies of the 80s & 90s

11. goonies (1985).

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h54m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.7/10 | Watch Now!

The Goonies

Looking for a reason to watch one of your favorite childhood movies with your kids? Yup, Goonies is a family road trip movie! We recently watched it with Little Man and it’s just as good as I’d remembered.

Join a group of young friends known as the Goonies on an exciting treasure hunt filled with danger and adventure.

As they navigate through their town and various filming locations, the Goonies’ journey showcases the exploration and discovery elements often associated with road trip narratives.

The Goonies has not only captivated audiences but also inspired fans to embark on their own road trips to visit the movie’s iconic filming locations from Oregon to California.

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12. Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer (1985)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h24m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 6.7/10 | Watch Now!

Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer

Rainbow Brite embarks on a cosmic mission to rescue the stars. While not a traditional road trip, it goes a celestial journey through space, centered around the themes of restoring color and joy to the universe.

This animated fantasy film follows the captivating adventures of Rainbow Brite, a vibrant character entrusted with the task of thwarting an evil princess and her minions from seizing control of the planet Spectra.

While interstellar travel and diverse settings are involved, the essence of the movie lies in protecting the universe from eternal darkness and reigniting the vibrancy of color and happiness.

Coming from a true Rainbow Bright fan (that’s me), this is an underrated family movie!

13. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h30m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.0/10 | Watch Now!

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) is a whimsical and heartwarming family film directed by Tim Burton.

This beloved classic follows the eccentric Pee-wee Herman on a quest to find his stolen bicycle.

With imaginative storytelling, lighthearted humor, memorable characters, and positive messages, it offers an entertaining and delightful experience for the whole family.

Don’t miss out on this engaging and visually appealing movie that guarantees plenty of laughs and meaningful conversations with your kids.

14. The Sure Thing (1985)

🍿 Rating: PG-13 | ⏰ Length: 1h35m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.0/10 | Buy Now!

The Sure Thing

Two college students go on a trip that leads to romance. Best suited for families with teens, The Sure Thing follows Walter Gibson (John Cusack) and Alison Bradbury (Daphne Zuniga) on a Christmas break college road trip.

Along the way, they encounter twists and turns, making for an adventurous and entertaining story.

The movie combines comedy and romance, capturing the spirit of adventure and self-discovery associated with road trips.

Inspired by a real-life road trip, The Sure Thing offers an engaging storyline with memorable moments and relatable characters.

15. Crossroads (1986)

🍿 Rating: PG-13 | ⏰ Length: | 👍 IMDB Grade: 3.6/10 | Buy Now!

Crossroads [DVD]

Crossroads is an engaging family road trip movie that follows three teenage girls, including Brittney Spears in her first movie role, on a cross-country journey of self-discovery and friendship.

With relatable themes, positive messages, a pop culture appeal, a sense of adventure, and an engaging soundtrack, it offers an enjoyable viewing experience for kids.

No, it’s not a cinematic masterpiece that’ll be nominated for an Oscar or Golden Globe, but your tweens and teens will enjoy it.

So, if you’re looking for a road trip movie that combines coming-of-age themes, positive messages, and a touch of pop culture, Crossroads can be a good choice for a family movie night.

16. Stand by Me (1986)

🍿 Rating: R | ⏰ Length: 1h29m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 8.1/10 | Watch Now!

Stand By Me (Special Edition)

Stand by Me is a beloved coming-of-age film directed by Rob Reiner. Based on Stephen King’s novella “The Body,” it follows the journey of four young boys searching for a missing boy.

Their on-foot adventure through a small town forms the central plot, highlighting their exploration, bonding, and self-discovery.

This iconic movie combines elements of friendship, personal growth, and a nostalgic setting.

However, it is rated R and contains mature content, so parents should consider its suitability for younger viewers. It may be better for families with teens.

17. Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

🍿 Rating: PG-13 | ⏰ Length: 1h42m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 6.9/10 | Watch Now!

Adventures In Babysitting

Follow a babysitter and her charges as they navigate a series of comical and thrilling mishaps while trying to rescue a stranded friend in the big city.

Adventures in Babysitting is a road trip movie that takes you on an adventurous journey through Chicago .

Along the way, they encounter different locations, quirky characters, and unexpected situations, adding to the comedic and adventurous nature of their escapades.

This mix of comedy, action, and coming-of-age themes makes Adventures in Babysitting an entertaining watch for families.

18. Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

🍿 Rating: R | ⏰ Length: 1h32m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.6/10 | Watch Now!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles is a timeless comedy classic directed by John Hughes. He’s one of my favorite 1980’s directors!

This family road trip movie follows two mismatched travelers , Neal and Del, as they encounter hilarious misadventures while trying to make it home for Thanksgiving.

With relatable characters, hilarious situations, heartwarming themes, memorable quotes, and a universal appeal, this film is the perfect choice for families looking for a delightful cinematic experience.

Buckle up and get ready for a wild journey filled with laughter, life lessons, and unforgettable memories.

19. The Great Outdoors (1988)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h30m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 6.6/10 | Watch Now!

The Great Outdoors [DVD]

Join the Ripley family on a hilarious camping trip filled with mishaps and a troublesome bear. This is one of my favorite John Candy movies from my childhood, and I look forward to introducing it to Little Man!

The Great Outdoors is a road trip movie that follows two families as they vacation at a lake resort in Pechoggin, Wisconsin.

Starring Dan Aykroyd and John Candy, this off-beat comedy explores family dynamics, nature, and unforgettable moments. Get ready for laughter and relatable adventures in the great outdoors!

With its comedic performances and themes of family togetherness, The Great Outdoors is a fun choice for families looking for an enjoyable road trip movie experience.

20. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h9m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.3/10 | Watch Now!

Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy is a heartwarming film that explores the unexpected bond between an elderly woman and her chauffeur.

Set in 1950s Atlanta, the story follows Daisy, a Jewish widow who hires Hoke, a black man, as her driver. As they spend time together, their friendship grows, leading to personal transformations.

While not specifically for children, older kids and teens can appreciate this character-driven, historical drama. I watched it with my family when I was nine or ten, and really enjoyed it.

The film tackles themes of racism, aging, and societal changes, offering valuable insights into friendship and understanding. Viewer discretion is advised based on maturity.

21. Captain Ron (1992)

🍿 Rating: PG-13 | ⏰ Length: 100m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 5.8/10 | Watch Now!

Captain Ron

Join the Harvey family on an incredibly hilarious and unpredictable sailing adventure with the one and only Captain Ron! It’s like a road trip but on a yacht, as this quirky Caribbean island to Miami journey unfolds.

Starring Kurt Russell as the lovable Captain Ron, who’s got quite an interesting past. And Martin Short as the suburban family man who hires him.

Captain Ron is generally considered a light-hearted comedy that older children and teenagers can enjoy. I watched it when I was a tween, as did David, and we both found the humor really entertaining.

There are some funny situations and jokes that might appeal more to older viewers, but overall it’s a fun movie for the whole family.

22. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h24m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 6.9/10 | Watch Now!

Homeward Bound - The Incredible Journey

Join two dogs and a cat on their incredible journey across mountains and rivers to find their owners.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is a heartwarming story about Chance, a fun-loving American bulldog pup, Shadow, a wise golden retriever, and Sassy, a hilarious Himalayan cat.

These beloved pets embark on an adventurous trek through the rugged Sierra wilderness. While the film focuses on their journey, it captures the essence of a road trip as they face challenges and bond along the way.

It offers uplifting and family-friendly entertainment with strong messages about friendship and loyalty.

23. A Goofy Movie (1995)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 78m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 8.4/10 | Watch Now!

A Goofy Movie (Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection)

A Goofy Movie is a heartwarming and hilarious animated road trip film that follows the journey of Goofy and his son, Max.

It beautifully captures relatable family dynamics and explores the balance between parental expectations and individual dreams.

This movie came out when I was a teenager, so I didn’t watch it as a kid. However, I enjoyed watching it with Little Man a few years back.

With memorable characters, a catchy soundtrack, and valuable life lessons, it’s a must-watch for families seeking laughter and meaningful conversations. Get ready for a delightful adventure with Goofy and Max!

24. The Rugrats Movie (1998)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h19m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 5.9/10 | Watch Now!

The Rugrats Movie

The Rugrats Movie offers an entertaining and heartwarming road trip experience for audiences of all ages. Its blend of adventure, humor, and heartfelt moments make it a delightful choice for families to enjoy together.

The Rugrats Movie is an animated film that follows the beloved Rugrats gang on an unexpected journey.

After getting lost in the woods, they embark on a wild adventure to reunite with their families, encountering obstacles, surprises, and memorable encounters along the way.

The film explores themes of friendship and family bonds while showcasing the sense of exploration and discovery associated with road trips.

With challenges, new locations, and lessons about teamwork and trust, The Rugrats Movie is a delightful and heartwarming adventure for all ages.

25. The Straight Story (1999)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h52m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 8.0/10 | Watch Now!

The Straight Story

The Straight Story is a heartwarming road trip movie that tells the story of Alvin Straight, an elderly man who embarks on a 300-mile journey on his lawnmower to visit his ailing brother.

While the film emphasizes themes of family loyalty, kindness to strangers, and reconciliation, it is more suited for older audiences due to its contemplative and slow-paced nature.

It offers a unique perspective on road trips and showcases the beauty of the Midwest, where I grew up.

However, it may not provide the adventure and excitement typically associated with road trip movies enjoyed by younger kids.

Modern Family Road Trip Movies (Early 2000s)

26. cheaper by the dozen (2003).

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h38m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 5.9/10 | Watch Now!

Cheaper By The Dozen 2003

Cheaper By the Dozen is an absolute gem of a family road trip movie that promises to entertain and inspire both kids and adults.

This lighthearted and heartwarming film follows the hilarious adventures of a big family on a cross-country road trip.

With relatable family dynamics, plenty of laughter, positive role models, and exciting family travel adventures, it’s a feel-good movie that promotes family values and leaves you wanting more.

Gather the family, sit back, and enjoy the delightful chaos of the Baker family’s journey. It’s a must-watch that will keep everyone entertained and inspire a desire for more family adventures.

27. Finding Nemo (2003)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h40m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 8.2/10 | Watch Now!

Finding Nemo [DVD]

Join Marlin, a clownfish, on a captivating adventure to find his son, Nemo, in the stunning world of the Great Barrier Reef.

Finding Nemo is a heartwarming story about love, courage, and friendship, with memorable characters that teach important lessons about family unity and never giving up.

👉 The 2016 sequel, Finding Dory , in which Marlon helps Dory find her family is another epic journey movie I recommend!

This entertaining and educational movie also sparks curiosity about marine life and conservation, while delivering Pixar’s signature blend of humor and heartwarming storytelling.

Get ready for an unforgettable undersea journey that will leave a lasting impression on the whole family!

28. Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 2h | 👍 IMDB Grade: 5.8/10 | Watch Now!

Around the World in 80 Days (Widescreen Edition)

Around the World in 80 Days is a captivating adventure that follows the journey of an eccentric British inventor, his Chinese valet, and an aspiring French artist as they attempt to circumnavigate the globe in just eighty days.

Along the way, they encounter various modes of transportation, navigate different cultures, and face both dangers and adventures.

The film adaptation captures the spirit of the original novel by Jules Verne, showcasing the excitement, humor, and challenges of the characters’ global odyssey.

This family-friendly story offers a blend of comedy, adventure, and exploration, making it a great choice for road trip family movie nights.

29. Are We There Yet? (2005)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h34m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 4.7/10 | Watch Now!

Are We There Yet?

Join Ice Cube on a laughter-filled road trip with his girlfriend’s kids in the family-friendly movie, Are We There Yet?

This entertaining and relatable film balances humor, adventure, and valuable life lessons.

Ice Cube’s character serves as a positive role model, and the engaging performances of the talented cast bring the story to life.

If you’re looking for a fun and heartwarming family road trip movie, Are We There Yet? is a must-watch!!

30. RV (2006)

🍿 Rating: | ⏰ Length: | 👍 IMDB Grade: | Watch Now!

RV (Full Screen Edition)

RV is a hilarious family comedy that follows a dysfunctional family on a memorable RV road trip.

With plenty of laughs, silly moments, and positive messages about family bonding, teamwork, and appreciation, RV is a fantastic choice for a fun family film.

The great chemistry between the cast members, led by the lively performance of Robin Williams, adds to the overall enjoyment of the movie.

Watch RV for a lighthearted adventure filled with laughter and valuable life lessons.

31. Cars (2006)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h56m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.2/10 | Watch Now!

Cars (Single-Disc Widescreen Edition)

Cars is a heartwarming movie that follows Lightning McQueen’s journey as he learns about friendship and the importance of slowing down in life.

With its lovable characters, stunning animation, and meaningful themes, the film appeals to both children and adults.

I admit, I’ve enjoyed this movie since long before having kids!

It’s a perfect choice for a family road trip movie, creating precious memories and sparking conversations along the way. Buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable adventure with Cars!

32. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

🍿 Rating: R | ⏰ Length: 1h41m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.8/10 | Watch Now!

Little Miss Sunshine

Join the quirky Hoover family on a hilarious and heartwarming road trip adventure in Little Miss Sunshine.

This family movie captures the spirit of adventure, togetherness, and embracing the journey.

With a heartfelt storyline, relatable characters, themes of acceptance and individuality, humorous and touching moments, and a memorable soundtrack, this film is perfect for your next family movie night.

Get ready to laugh, cry, and celebrate the power of family bonds with Little Miss Sunshine.

33. Wild Hogs (2007)

🍿 Rating: PG13 | ⏰ Length: 1h39m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 5.8/10 | Watch Now!

Wild Hogs (Widescreen Edition)

Wild Hogs is a comedy film about a group of middle-aged friends who embark on a motorcycle road trip in search of adventure and freedom.

Along the way, they encounter a variety of challenges that test their friendship and courage. The movie features an all-star cast including John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy.

If you’re a parent seeking a family road trip movie to watch with older kids or teens, this is a fun choice!

The movie is full of laughs, friendship, and meaningful lessons about facing fears and pursuing dreams. So get ready for an outrageous adventure with the Wild Hogs!

34. Up (2009)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h36m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 8.3/10 | Watch Now!


Join an unlikely duo on a whimsical journey to the South American wilderness, lifted by thousands of colorful balloons.

Okay, so it’s not your typical road trip with a fancy vehicle, but this film is all about travel and adventure. By balloon!

The focus is on the heartwarming tale of Carl Fredricksen, an elderly widower, and his young companion Russell, as they float a house with balloons from a city with skyscrapers, like New York City, all the way to South America.

It’s a story that delves into themes of friendship, love, and personal growth, making it a truly enjoyable and family-friendly adventure movie for all ages.

35. Rio (2011)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 101m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 6.8/10 | Watch Now!


When it comes to road trip movies, Rio might not be the first film that comes to mind. However, it does feature an adventurous journey that takes the main characters from Minnesota to Rio de Janeiro.

Note : The sequel, Rio 2 , also follows the characters on another adventure, making it a double dose of avian road trip excitement.

Join Blu, a domesticated macaw, and his new feathered friends as they embark on a thrilling journey in exotic Rio de Janeiro. Rio gets rave reviews for its amazing animation, adorable characters, and surprising plot twists.

It delivers a super fun and one-of-a-kind experience, especially for families who are interested in exploring the beauty of South America and Brazil. Like my family!

36. The Guilt Trip (2012)

🍿 Rating: PG13 | ⏰ Length: 1h35m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 5.8/10 | Watch Now!

The Guilt Trip

Join an overprotective mother and her inventive son on a surprising and heartwarming road trip in The Guilt Trip.

This family-friendly movie explores the dynamics between a mother and an adult son, sparking conversations and reflections within your own family. With a mix of humor and heartfelt moments, it entertains both kids and adults.

The journey takes you across diverse states and landscapes, inspiring curiosity and a love for travel.

The Guilt Trip is a light and accessible film suitable for family viewing. So grab some popcorn and embark on this humorous and heartfelt adventure together!

37. The Croods (2013)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h39m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.2/10 | Watch Now!

The Croods [DVD]

Join the Croods on a thrilling adventure to prehistoric times! This animated family road trip movie is perfect for family nights with the kids.

I may be a bit biased, though, since The Croods is one of Little Man’s all-time favorite family trips movies. He watches it on almost every family road trip we take!

Packed with excitement, humor, and positive messages, “The Croods” will entertain and inspire audiences of all ages. Don’t miss out on this visually stunning and universally funny film!

Overall, this animated adventure provides wholesome entertainment and valuable life lessons, making it an excellent road trip movie for the whole family.

38. Frozen (2013)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h42m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.4/10 | Watch Now!


Ok, I’m stretching family road trip movies a bit by including this one. But Anna does take a “road trip” with Christophe in his sleigh pulled by Sven!

Venture into the icy kingdom of Arendelle with Anna, Elsa, and their friends on a quest to save the kingdom and mend their sisterly bond.

Featuring an emotional story, gorgeous animation, and catchy songs, Frozen is sure to be a hit with your family! Plus, the movie offers valuable lessons in sisterhood, friendship, and courage.

So bundle up and join Anna on her magical journey of self-discovery. You won’t regret it!

39. Planes (2013)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 90m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 5.7/10 | Watch Now!


Planes is a delightful animated film that follows the adventures of Dusty Crophopper, a crop-dusting plane with big dreams of competing in a prestigious around-the-world air race.

Yes, it is about planes instead of cars but it’s still a great travel-around-the-world trip style movie. And I really enjoyed it. So I’m putting it on the list!

With its mix of humor, action, and positive messages, this movie is a fun watch for kids and aviation enthusiasts alike.

The animation, comedic moments, and appealing characters make Planes an enjoyable viewing experience for the whole family.

40. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h55m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.3/10 | Watch Now!

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Join Walter Mitty on an extraordinary journey as he escapes his mundane life through daydreams and real-life adventures.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty can be considered a road trip movie, with Walter traveling to Greenland, Afghanistan, the Himalayas, and Iceland.

Throughout his quest to find a world-famous travel photographer, Walter transforms from a daydreamer to an actual adventurer, embracing life and pursuing his dreams.

This captivating film inspires viewers to step out of their comfort zones and embark on their own adventures.

Recent Family Road Trip Movies (2015 – Today)

41. vacation (2015).

🍿 Rating: R | ⏰ Length: 90m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 6.8/10 | Watch Now!

Vacation (2015)

If you just finished watching National Lampoon’s Vacation and want to have a movie marathon with your older kids, this is the perfect second family road trip movie to choose!

Join the grown-up Rusty Griswold as he takes his own family on a nostalgic and outrageous journey to Walley World, following in his father’s footsteps.

Vacation is a fun and funny movie that will make you laugh until your sides hurt. It also features beautiful scenery, so it’s worth watching for that alone.

Just note that the movie is R-rated and there are some adult themes, so I wouldn’t recommend this one to families with young kids .

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44. Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2015)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h31m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 4.9/10 | Watch Now!

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip [Blu-ray]

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is a fantastic choice for a family movie road trip.

It offers kid-friendly entertainment with a lighthearted and silly adventure that kids will love. Little Man was obsessed with it for quite a while when he was younger.

The film promotes an inclusive message of family and sparks meaningful conversations about family dynamics.

With an engaging storyline, catchy songs, and a positive message, it’s a must-watch for a fun and family-friendly road trip experience.

42. Captain Fantastic (2016)

🍿 Rating: R | ⏰ Length: 2h | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.8/10 | Watch Now!

Captain Fantastic [DVD]

Captain Fantastic is a beloved family road trip movie that explores the challenges and complexities of parenting.

It emphasizes the importance of nature and simplicity, delves into family dynamics, raises thought-provoking themes and messages, and features strong performances.

It encourages us to question societal norms and offers valuable lessons about self-sufficiency and living in harmony with the environment.

However, it contains mature content and parents should review it before exposing young children to it. I do recommend this to families with older kids, though!

43. Moana (2016)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 2h | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.6/10 | Watch Now!


Join Moana, a young Polynesian princess, as she sets sail across the Pacific Ocean on a daring voyage to save her people.

My family has loved this movie since before we became digital nomads , when we saw it in the theaters in Chicago. Little Man still loves it because Dwayne Johnson is Maui.

This enchanting animated film celebrates Polynesian culture, offers memorable characters, an unforgettable soundtrack, stunning visuals, and explores universal themes of self-discovery and embracing one’s true potential.

Let Moana inspire and captivate your family with its captivating story, music, and heartwarming messages of courage and self-discovery. Enjoy the adventure!

45. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 91m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 4.3/10 | Watch Now!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

Join the Heffley family on a hilariously disastrous road trip to attend Meemaw’s 90th birthday party.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is the fourth installment of the popular series and it’s sure to be a hit with your family. It sure was with ours!

The movie offers plenty of laughs, goofy characters, and entertaining misadventures that will keep you entertained throughout the journey!

Plus, there are valuable lessons about being kind to others and sticking together as a family. So buckle up and enjoy the ride with Greg, Rodrick, Mom, Dad, and Manny!

46. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

🍿 Rating: PG13 | ⏰ Length: 1h59m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 6.9/10 | Watch Now!

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle [DVD]

In this reboot of one of my favorite Robin Williams movies, four teenagers find themselves transported into the jungle world of Jumanji and must work together to survive.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a thrilling adventure-comedy film directed by Jake Kasdan.

As the characters navigate through different settings within the game, they encounter thrilling obstacles, overcome challenges, and learn the importance of teamwork.

This exciting and family-friendly movie offers a mix of action, humor, and camaraderie, making it a great choice for a memorable watch. Plus, it’s another Dwayne Johnson movie so it’s popular in our home!

47. Toy Story 4 (2019)

🍿 Rating: G | ⏰ Length: 1h40m | 👍 IMDB Grade: | Buy Now!

Toy Story 4

Join Woody, Buzz, and the gang on a road trip filled with new friends, unexpected twists, and heartwarming reunions. We watched this in the theaters when we first started traveling full-time . It pulled my heartstrings so hard!

Toy Story 4 transports viewers to a humorous world of toys that will delight kids and adults alike. It’s my favorite Toy Story movie. It offers heartwarming moments, hilarious jokes, and plenty of action-packed sequences.

The movie delivers meaningful messages about overcoming challenges, friendship, and family – touching themes many can relate to.

It’s no surprise that this is one of the highest-grossing animated movies of all time and that it won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Definitely worth watching!

48. Onward (2020)


Directed by Dan Scanlon, Onward is an animated fantasy-adventure film that follows two teen elf brothers on a magical quest to spend one last day with their late father.

This Pixar movie is full of imaginative visuals, thrilling moments, and heartwarming messages about family and friendship. The soundtrack is also amazing!

I absolutely love this movie. It’s exciting, funny, and moving—everything I want in a movie.

Onward will entertain the whole family while sending a message that even when life takes us on unexpected paths, we can still find our way back home. A must watch!

49. Mitchells vs The Machines (2021)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h54m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.6/10 | Watch Now!

The Mitchells vs the Machines [DVD]

This is a family road trip movie that offers a unique and vibrant twist. The film follows the adventurous journey of the dysfunctional Mitchell family as they embark on a cross-country road trip.

However, their plans take an unexpected turn when they find themselves amid a robot uprising and must save the world from this technological threat.

Mitchells vs The Machines is an enjoyable movie full of laughs, meticulously crafted visuals, and a message about the importance of family. It’s also great to see a diverse cast on screen!

So if you’re looking for a fun-filled animated adventure with a unique twist, this is the movie for you and your family.

50. Luca (2021)

🍿 Rating: PG | ⏰ Length: 1h35m | 👍 IMDB Grade: 7.4/10 | Watch Now!


Luca is an awesome road trip movie for families to enjoy together. It takes you on a breathtaking journey to the Italian Riviera with stunning visuals.

The film explores themes of friendship, self-discovery, and belonging, while also providing plenty of laughs.

Little Man loved this movie so much, we ended up going to McDonalds JUST for the Happy Meal toys.

Luca celebrates Italian culture and offers a chance for families to create lasting memories. Don’t miss out on this heartwarming and visually stunning film!

What are Family Road Trip Movies?

Family road trip movies are a genre of films that revolve around an adventurous journey taken by a family.

These family trip movies typically feature a group of characters embarking on a road trip (or long journey), often set against a backdrop of stunning landscapes and exciting destinations.

From comedies to dramas, these films blend relatable family dynamics with thrilling adventures, resulting in a delightful and heartwarming cinematic experience.

Little Man watching one of his favorite family road trip movies on the TV.

Key Characteristics of Family Road Trip Movies

☑️ Themes of Discovery and Adventure : Family road trip movies capture the essence of exploration and discovery. They inspire a sense of wanderlust and encourage viewers to embrace new experiences.

☑️ Humor and Light-heartedness : These family vacation movies infuse humor and light-hearted moments, providing ample opportunities for laughter and entertainment.

They cleverly portray the ups and downs of family dynamics, offering relatable scenarios that resonate with both kids and parents.

☑️ Character Development : One of the key strengths of family road trip movies is their focus on character development.

As the journey unfolds, characters learn valuable life lessons, grow closer as a family, and overcome obstacles together, leaving a lasting impact on both the audience and the characters themselves.

☑️ Stunning Visuals : Alongside captivating stories, family road trip movies often showcase breathtaking landscapes, iconic landmarks, and picturesque scenery.

These visuals enhance the sense of adventure and inspire wanderlust in viewers of all ages.

David leaning out the drivers window with his left arm raised while looking at the camera and smiling. Photo was taken on the side of the road in the desert of northern Chile. It was a good day for family road trip questions!

Why Family Road Trip Movies are Essential for Bonding and Lasting Memories

Family road trip movies offer more than mere entertainment.

They create opportunities for parents and children to share quality time together, fostering stronger bonds and creating lasting memories. Here’s why these movies are a must-watch for families:

🎦 Shared Experiences : Watching family road trip movies together allows families to laugh, empathize, and connect over shared experiences. It opens up conversations, sparks imagination, and creates a sense of togetherness.

🎦 Educational Value : These movies often incorporate valuable life lessons, teaching kids about friendship, resilience, and the importance of family.

They expose children to different cultures, environments, and perspectives, expanding their horizons and nurturing a thirst for knowledge.

🎦 Inspiration and Encouragement : Family road trip movies inspire a sense of adventure and encourage families to plan their own memorable journeys.

They ignite the desire to explore new destinations, embark on thrilling escapades, and create their own stories.

🎦 Nostalgia and Lasting Memories : Years down the road, these movies become cherished memories that families can look back on with fondness.

They evoke a sense of nostalgia, reminding us of the joyous moments shared during family movie nights and the laughter that echoed through the living room.

David and Little Man snuggling on a couch with a blanket covering them watching family road trip movies at Hacienda Tres Rios resort in Playa del Carmen Mexico.

Final Thoughts on Family Road Trip Movies

From the laughter-filled adventures to the heartfelt moments of connection, these family road trip movies have a way of resonating with families and society as a whole.

Through the power of storytelling, family road trip movies remind us of the importance of spending quality time with our loved ones.

So, why not take a cue from these movies and plan your own family adventure?

Visit those stunning national parks you saw on screen or explore charming small towns that capture the essence of the open road.

Try out the activities featured in the films, like hiking, camping, or simply enjoying a picnic in nature.

Or go really big and drive the Pan-American Highway like our family!

Let the magic of these movies inspire you and your loved ones to embark on your very own unforgettable journey.

Remember to check the ratings and age appropriateness of these movies to ensure they are suitable for your family.

So grab some snacks, cozy up on the couch, and enjoy these entertaining road trip adventures!

Happy travels! 🚗

FAQs About Family Road Trip Movies

Do you still have questions about family road trip movies? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

What is a movie where the family goes on vacation?

A classic movie about family vacations is National Lampoon’s Vacation. The Griswold family goes on a cross-country road trip, full of hijinks and mishaps, in an attempt to get to Wally World.

It’s a hilarious film that captures the humorous chaos that can occur when families travel together .

What is the old movie about a family road trip?

The old movie is National Lampoon’s Vacation. Join the Griswold family on a chaotic road trip to Walley World in the 1983 classic.

This heartwarming story follows their misadventures across multiple states. From running out of gas in the desert to challenging encounters with the law, they prove that strong family bonds can overcome any obstacle.

What movies should you watch with your family?

When it comes to movies that are fit for the entire family, there are lots of choices! If you’re looking for something light-hearted, classic comedies like Groundhog Day or Home Alone are sure to bring on the laughter.

Family road trip movies like Cars or Goonies take us on an exciting journey with characters who learn valuable lessons along the way. Whatever type of movie your family is in the mood for, there’s something out there for everyone!

What should I watch on a long car ride?

Mitchell’s vs The Machines and American Graffiti are both classic family road trip movies, but there are plenty of more contemporary options as well. Pixar’s Cars and Inside Out would be great for younger viewers, while Thelma & Louise and Easy Rider offer a more adult take on road trips.

No matter what your audience is, you’re sure to find something that everyone can agree on. And don’t forget about those classics like National Lampoon’s Vacation and Little Miss Sunshine! There’s no shortage of great movies to choose from when it comes to long car rides.

What are the five Vacation movies?

The five Vacation movies are National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) , European Vacation (1985), Christmas Vacation (1989), Vegas Vacation (1997), and the most recent installment, 2015’s Vacation. Each film follows the same central characters on a misadventure in a different vacation destination.

Little Man pretending to drive a yellow car with David in the back seat.

What are the top 10 movies for families?

The top movies for families are The Lion King (1994), Toy Story (1995), Finding Nemo (2003), Up (2009), Coco (2017) , Moana (2016), Zootopia (2016), The Incredibles (2004), Wall-E (2008), and Frozen (2013).

How do you have a good family movie night?

Having a good family movie night is all about selecting the right movie and creating an experience that everyone can enjoy. Start out making a list of movies that everyone likes, and let each person pick one.

Treat it like an event—turn off all devices, order takeout or create a meal together, and get comfy on the couch. Make sure each person has their favorite snacks nearby as well!

How do you survive a 7 hour car ride?

Long car rides can be especially difficult if you’re not prepared for them. Make sure to bring plenty of snacks and drinks, and plan some entertainment options like music or podcasts that you can enjoy during the ride.

If the car has a DVD player, make sure to bring a movie or two. Keep each other company and play car games, like answering car game questions. And don’t forget to do some stretches every now and then – sitting in one spot for too long can make you stiff!

Why is it fun to watch movies with family?

Watching movies with family is an enjoyable pastime for all ages. It’s an opportunity to spend quality time together and bond over shared interests. Watching movies is a great way to relax and take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Plus, you can laugh, cry, or experience any emotion together as you immerse yourself in the story. You’ll also be able to discuss your favorite parts afterward, which makes the movie-watching experience even more enjoyable!

Why are family movies important?

Family movies are a vital tool for bringing families closer together. They create shared experiences, promote meaningful conversations, and allow parents to impart values in a fun way .

These movies provide an escape from daily stress, encouraging relaxation and quality time. Ultimately, they help create lasting memories and pass on traditions to future generations.

👉 I recommend the insurance broker, Insubuy . They help you shop for travel insurance to, within, and outside of the USA.

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Brodi Cole is a full-time digital nomad who travels the world with her family. She made the switch to blogging and content writing after spending more than a decade and a half working as a Human Resources Manager and Director.

Since transitioning her family to a digital nomad lifestyle, they've visited over 20 countries together (and counting) in the last ten years!

In addition to traveling extensively through Canada, the USA, and the Caribbean, she's also visited Asia, Europe, and South America.

She spent most of the pandemic living in Malaysia before living in Mexico for over a year and then driving the Pan-American Highway from the USA to the southernmost tip of Argentina.

Brodi is also a freelance SEO writer and editor, sharing her expertise with other companies and bloggers. She has a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature and a Master's Degree in Human Resources Management.

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7 best movies and shows to watch on your long road trip

By diana nosa | mar 30, 2021.

THE GOOD PLACE -- "Patty" Episode 412 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jameela Jamil as Tahani, Manny Jacinto as Jason, D'Arcy Carden as Janet, Kristen Bell as Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

A road trip is a fun and adventurous activity to do with your friends and loved ones.

Singing songs at the top of your lungs, eating ridiculous amounts of junk food, telling funny jokes and recalling fond memories—all those things sound great in the beginning, but when the sun starts to set and the hype dies down, it’s the perfect time to pull out your headphones and watch a new movie or start a new show.

Best movies and shows to watch on your road trip

1. Boyhood 

Boyhood  is a coming-of-age film about how Mason discovers what it means to be a boy who is eventually going to be a man someday. He is charismatic, loving, and curious—characteristics that every road-tripper definitely has.

What makes this film unique is that it was filmed across twelve years , which means you actually get to watch the characters grow throughout the movie. It’s truly a remarkable film and even went on to be nominated for multiple Academy Awards including Best Picture in 2015.

Boyhood  is a two-hour, 45-minute emotional rollercoaster that is sure to leave you in tears.

2.  Little Miss Sunshine

This dysfunctional family made it cool to take long road trips!

Little Miss Sunshine  is a beautiful, heart-filling story about how a family goes the extra mile to take their daughter to a beauty pageant. Their beat-up yellow van brings this crazy bunch together and reminds them of what truly matters.

If that wasn’t enough of a selling point,  The Office   actor Steve Carell stars in the movie, making the movie that much more iconic.

This film will leave you warm as you cozy up against the cold glass of your van’s window.

This is another film about a journey—only this time a man embarks on the journey to reunite with his long-lost brother and mother that he hasn’t seen since he was a child.

After Saroo, played by Dev Patel, has spent an unimaginable twenty-five years separated from his home in Calcutta, India, he is dedicated to finding his way back to everything that he lost.

Based on a true story , Lion  pulls at the heartstrings and forces you to realize that the most important step of going on any road trip is the first step.

4.  The Good Place 

To switch gears from crying your heart out,  The Good Place is a hilarious series that tackles the topic of death and what happens after we die.

How do we know who goes to the good place or who goes to the bad place? What can we do to avoid going to the bad place? This TV series starring Kristen Bell discusses what it actually means to be “good” and if being good is worth achieving.

Though it’s a comedy,  The Good Place  is also dedicated to answering questions that we all may have about life and is guaranteed to make you philosophical on your road trip.

5.  Stranger Things

The thrilling, supernatural Stranger Things   is a good way to pass the time on your long road trip.

Four childhood friends find themselves in a flipped world as one of their other acquaintances, Will Byers, goes missing. Determined to find their friend, these imaginative children search through the woods and instead find a girl, Eleven, with crazy powers who may be the key to unlocking the whereabouts of Will Byers.

Stranger Things is a series that is certainly going to have you feeling nostalgic and with the show releasing its fourth season very soon, you’ll have even more to look forward to after you take your road trip.

6.  Queer Eye

Maybe on your road trip you want to remember that fuzzy feeling of wanting to find something greater than yourself, within yourself. The Netflix series Queer Eye does just that as Johnathan, Karamo, Tan, Bobby, and Antoni leave you with advice that will absolutely change your life.

The fabulous quintet meet strangers who deserve to have another shot at falling in love with life and revamp that person’s food, home, fashion, beauty, and culture. Share the advice you learned with your road buddies once they wake up.

7.  The Pursuit of Happyness

As you go on your pursuit, we leave you with this pursuit.

Last but certainly not least on our list is Will Smith’s  The Pursuit of Happyness,  a film about a father doing everything he can to provide for his son (played by Will Smith’s son, Jaden Smith) and give him a life that he can smile about.

Based on another true story, this film talks about how the journey is just as important as the destination.

As you arrive to your destination, we hope that these films leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on your next road trip with your loved ones. Remember to drive safe, relax, and enjoy the road.

dark. Next. 50 best Netflix movies to watch right now

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Top 10 best road trip movies of all time

Top 10 best road trip movies of all time

On the road again.

THE SUN is shining, the weather is sweet and the asphalt is calling: road trip season is here.

It’s a mood captured countless times on the big screen over the years, with road trips used as a powerful device for narrative progression. Families confined within a space for hours on end, surprise encounters and the inherent jeopardy of travelling at speed in a metal box have all played a role in some of the most memorable movies of all time.

The selection of films we’ve gathered below are not just highly regarded by critics but also feature some epic drives with gorgeous backdrops ranging from the American Mid-West to the Australian Outback.

Stunning vistas aren’t the most essential element for a true great road trip flick, though, and to prove it look no further than Tom Hardy vehicle (see what we did there?) Locke, which involves a journey along British motorways from Birmingham to London.

So strap in and fire up the streaming service: here in no particular order are our 10 best road trip movies to watch, whether you’re hitting the two lane black top yourself or not.

Have we missed your favourite? Tell us what it is and why you love it in the comments.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Starring 1978 Volkswagen Type 2 camper van

Long drives with the entire family in tow never tend to go smoothly, and that’s certainly the case of Little Miss Sunshine. In their 800-mile drive across the United States, the Hoovers contend not only with their Volkswagen camper van breaking down but also the antics of their dysfunctional relatives — not least the grandfather played by Alan Arkin, who deservedly won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role .

Did you know? Little Miss Sunshine’s screenplay writer Michael Arndt based the issues affecting the Volkswagen on the unreliability of a camper van from a real life childhood road trip of his own.

Locke (2014)

Starring 2012 BMW X5

On paper, a film that’s predominantly set on British motorways and has its sole on-screen actor (Tom Hardy as the movie’s titular character, Ivan Locke) behind the wheel of an unremarkable BMW X5 SUV does seem that gripping. However, the daring drama is far more than the sum of its parts, with The Times saying director Steven Knight has created in Locke “a bold, genuinely thrilling piece of cinema out of seemingly meagre ingredients”.

Did you know? The phone call dialogue you hear in Locke wasn’t added in post-production; it was filmed in real-time, with the off-screen actors calling and speaking to Hardy while the cameras were rolling.

Midnight Run (1988)

Starring 1973 Chevrolet Blazer, 1981 Dodge Diplomat, 1986 Mercury Marquis Colony Park

Action comedy Midnight Run involves a bounty hunter tracking down a Mafia money-embezzling accountant then escorting him from New York to Los Angeles, one of the longest journeys of any road trip movie. As the trailer shows, the epic voyage doesn’t exclusively use cars, though there is plenty of highway-based drama and Midnight Run is rightly considered one of the greatest road trip movies of all time, thanks to hugely entertaining characters and fine chemistry between Robert de Niro and Charles Grodin in the main roles.

Did you know? Bob Maroff, who plays an LA cabbie in Midnight Run’s final scene, also appeared alongside Robert de Niro in the 1976 thriller classic Taxi Driver.

Easy Rider (1969)

Starring Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide custom motorbikes

It may not be car-based but there is road and there is plenty of trip. Easy Rider, according to the trailer, is “the story of a man who went looking for America and couldn’t find it … anywhere”, though of course there’s more to it than that. It’s worth watching for the performances alone, with the cool Peter Fonda joined by two of the most unsettling screen presences of all time: Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.

The bikes are pretty cool pieces of kit, too: Harley-Davidson-based choppers sporting lashings of glinting chrome and good’ol paint jobs on the tanks.

Did you know? Only one bike from Easy Rider — the “Captain America” — is known to have survived. The other choppers were stolen before filming ended and haven’t been seen since.

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

Starring Wagon Queen Family Truckster (based on a 1979 Ford Country Squire)

If you’re after lighthearted road trip movie fun, you can’t go too far wrong with National Lampoon’s Vacation, an outlandish comedy about the Griwsold family’s topsy-turvy travels across America to a theme park in sunny California. While the hurdles encountered by Clark and co. along the way are outlandish, in true Staurday Night Live style, many of the trials of a family road trip will strike a chord with parents.

Did you know? The film’s fictional Family Truckster was designed by the American custom car builder George Harris, who’s perhaps best known for making the Batmobile used in the Batman live action TV series.

Rain Man (1988)

Starring 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible

Because the Buick Roadmaster is such an icon of classic Americana, Rain Man automatically gets the thumbs up from us here at There’s far more to like about the movie than the pastel yellow convertible, though, not least the film’s leading duo: Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. The screen legends spearhead an engrossing tale about two estranged brothers — one of whom is initially motivated by money, the other an autistic savant — on an introspective journey across the United States.

Did you know? The owner of the Buick Roadmaster used in Rain Man is the film’s director, Barry Levinson.

The Goddess of 1967 (2000)

Starring 1967 Citroën DS

Australia’s car-based feature film catalogue isn’t limited to the Mad Max movies: in 2000, director Clara Law brought to the world her distinctive road trip movie, The Goddess of 1967. Like the film’s distinctive French car, the film stands out from the crowd. The plot sees a Japanese businessman and a blind woman travel across the Outback in a Citroën DS (“ Déesse ” in French, meaning “Goddess”). It’s a fascinating work, though as the excerpt above suggests, Law’s dreamy style may not be for all tastes.

Did you know? The Goddess of 1967 isn’t the first film about a Japanese man who goes abroad and buys a Citroën DS. The 1996 Icelandic indie flick Cold Fever had a similar premise, albeit with a considerably different narrative.

The Straight Story (1999)

Starring 1964 John Deere 110 lawnmower

We’ve already seen with Locke and Midnight Run a great road trip film can emerge from the most unlikely of premises, and David Lynch’s 1999 road drama The Straight Story is another great example of this. Lynch is known for his disturbing, surrealist films and TV shows, such as Eraserhead and Twin Peaks, but as the name suggests Straight Story is a simple, conventionally told tale of an elderly man desperate to reach his infirm brother. The oddest thing about the film is the choice of transport: a John Deere ride-on lawnmower, which is used to travel at a snail’s pace across the American Mid-West. With Straight Story, Lynch proves he’s a master of grabbing attention and tugging at heartstrings, regardless of chosen style.

Did you know? As crazy as it sounds, The Straight Story is based on a true story. In 1996, the real life Alvin Straight really did drive his ride-on mower for 240 mile trip to visit his unwell brother.

Thelma and Louise (1991)

Starring 1966 Ford Thunderbird

Few road trip films have had as much of an impact on pop culture as Ridley Scott’s 1991 hit Thelma and Louise; not least through its iconic end sequence (which we shan’t spoil here, in case you haven’t seen it yet). The #MeToo movement that’s swept through Hollywood has meant the film still resonates poignantly nearly three decades after its original release — though, as Thelma and Louise star Geena Davis told The Times , there’s still a long way to go before the movie industry is no longer a predominantly man’s world.

Did you know? Thelma and Louise isn’t the only famous film to feature a fourth-generation Ford Thunderbird convertible: a yellow example also appeared in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger.

Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

Starring 1980 Dodge Dart

As this list suggests, road trip movies that cut through in America and the UK are most often set in the United States, though director Alfonso Cuarón helped buck that trend in impressive style with his Mexico-based road film, Y Tu Mamá También (“And Your Mother Too”).  The coming-of-age story involves two teenage friends on a five-day trip to a beach they’ve made up, inviting an alluring older woman along for the ride. Rolling Stone magazine called the multi-award winner a “hot-blooded, haunting and wildly erotic film [that] revels in the pleasures of the flesh without losing touch with thought and feeling.”

Did you know?  Alfonso Cuarón isn’t a household name in the UK but you’re almost certainly familiar with his work. The Mexican film maker’s credits  include high-profile hits such as Gravity, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and last year’s Academy Awards darling Roma.

The 10 best car chases in movie history
Top 5: Underrated movie car chases
  • Country Squire
  • Harley-Davidson
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Marquis Colony Park
  • Midnight Run
  • National Lampoon's Vacation
  • The Goddess of 1967
  • The Straight Story
  • Thelma and Louise
  • Thunderbird
  • Y Tu Mamá También

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40 Best Car Movies Of All Time Ranked

Max behind the wheel

Racing movies, road trip movies, cat-and-mouse horror flicks, fast-paced crime films with getaway drivers, post-apocalyptic thrillers where cars are used more as weapons then as transport — there's something unique about car movies, not only in regard to their plots, but also in how they use cars in the first place. A well-constructed chase scene or action scene that relies on automobiles is one that can instantly impress viewers upon initial viewing and can continue to stand out in your memory for years to come. We all remember the most awe-inspiring car chases or car-related stunts we've seen in theaters, and car movies are the perfect vehicles for those moments.

Whatever film immediately comes to mind when you hear the words "car movie," there are plenty of entertaining movies out there that have made clever use of cars in some way. Here are 40 of the most remarkable movies about cars that we would break the speed limit to go see.

40. The Car

"The Car" probably falls under the umbrella phrase "so bad, it's good." Critically panned upon its release in 1977, it's gone on to earn something of a cult following, with many seeing it as a laughably poor imitation of "Jaws" with a little bit of "Duel" thrown in for good measure. Like "Jaws," the plot of the movie sees a small-town lawman (James Brolin) trying to stop a demonic, driverless black car that's been killing innocent people in his community.

"The Car" is far from a good movie. The Washington Post wrote "There's no telling how many sounder, wittier scripts, including stories in the same genre, might have been overlooked or rejected in order to waste time and resources on this feeble in-house imitation." Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson even listed the movie in his book "The Official Razzie Movie Guide," as one of the " Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made. " So if you come in expecting traditional quality, you'll be disappointed. But if you love comically bad horror films like "Sharknado" or "Troll 2," you're bound to get a kick out of the sheer ridiculousness of "The Car."

39. The Transporter

Action fans would be hard-pressed to find a better movie starring Jason Statham than the original 2002 "Transporter." The first entry in the "Transporter" series and the first franchise to feature Statham in a leading role, the film follows Frank Martin, a driver-for-hire who will deliver anything to any destination a client has in mind, no questions asked. When breaks his own rules and discovers one of his packages contains a woman being held prisoner, however, Frank is forced to go to war against his own highly dangerous employers.

"The Transporter" isn't exactly a masterpiece, but it does contain some superb action scenes that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping and your heart racing. "Martin doesn't just zip through the perilously winding French streets, he flies," wrote the Los Angeles Times , "launching the character and this enjoyable trifle on an action high it mostly sustains for the next hour." Some might come away less than impressed by the movie's thin plot and subpar dialogue, but the nonstop action will likely be enough to entertain most viewers.

38. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry

"Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry" is essentially "Bonnie and Clyde" with more emphasis on car chases. In desperate need of quick cash, a professional racing team (Peter Fonda and Adam Roarke) hold up a supermarket. Joined by a carefree, thrill-seeking young woman played by Susan George, the three go on the lam in a souped-up 1969 Dodge Charger, engaging in high-speed chases with local law enforcement.

Released in 1974, "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry" was made to reflect the '70s mindset that cast young, idealistic protagonists against a society bent on enforcing rules. It's "Badlands," "Easy Rider," and "Natural Born Killers" rolled into one, featuring main characters that live on the fringes of society and love every minute of it.

The movie continues to divide critics to this day, with some, like the New York Times' Vincent Canby , describing it as "noisy" and "bereft of emotion." Others were more appreciative of the film, such as filmmaker  Edgar Wright , who called it "a pretty fun, disposable B-movie with great action" and cited "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry" as a major influence on his own car movie, "Baby Driver."

37. Hitch-Hike

A little-known crime thriller from Italian director Pasquale Festa Campanile, "Hitch-Hike" stars Italian B-movie star Franco Nero as an alcoholic writer and French actress Corinne Cléry as his wife, both of whom are on a road trip in the Californian desert. After stopping to pick up a hitchhiker (David Hess) who turns out to be a sadistic thief, the married couple are taken hostage and told to drive the criminal to Mexico to reunite with his crew.

"Hitch-Hike" likely would have faded into obscurity if it weren't for the movie's palpable suspense, skillful direction, twist ending, and memorable soundtrack from legendary composer Ennio Morricone. Accompanied to Morricone's score, the movie's minimal budget and B-movie approach establishes "Hitch-Hike" as a tense, unexpectedly enjoyable film that owes a lot to the classic noir movies of the '40s and '50s. Since its release in 1977, it's become an underrated cult classic in its own right, a film with a plot you believe is going one way, but swerves in new, unexpected directions throughout.

36. Thunder Road

In this 1958 cult classic, Robert Mitchum stars as a Korean War veteran turned illegal moonshiner Lucas Doolin, who delivers casks of his product at dropoff spots all over the South in his custom hot rod. As Doolin tries to ensure that his brother stays out of the family business and doesn't fall into a life of crime, he contends with federal agents and rival gangsters looking to encroach upon his territory.

"Thunder Road" — which later inspired the title for the Bruce Springsteen song of the same name — was a movie Mitchum was involved in the making of in every conceivable way. The star of "Thunder Road," Mitchum also thought up the movie's plot line, co-wrote and sang its theme song (" The Ballad of Thunder Road "), and served as the main producer on the film.

Mitchum's efforts paid off. "Thunder Road" would become a success in the years to come, playing at numerous drive-throughs for decades after its release. Slant Magazine wrote that the movie's "hard-charging chase sequences make it a vintage 'Dukes of Hazzard'-flavored noir." In addition to those chase sequences, Mitchum's ice cool portrayal of Doolin is one of his most fondly-remembered performances.

35. The Hit

An underrated gem from British director Stephen Frears, "The Hit" is a road movie that sees a pair of hit men (John Hurt and Tim Roth) abduct a former gangster turned police informant (Terrence Stamp) from his Spanish villa, transporting him back to Paris where his former comrades await his arrival. It's a wonderfully introspective meditation on life and the inevitability of death, one that is equally calming, insightful, grim, hopeful, and darkly comedic. All three principal actors are phenomenal in their roles, bringing contrasting elements of world-weariness to their respective characters' viewpoints.

"The Hit" was a sleeper hit when it was released in 1984, praised for its writing, acting, and direction. "Frears and writer Peter Prince have taken a potentially familiar tale of a gangland betrayal and revenge and made something richly inventive and most entertaining," said Variety . In 2017, filmmaker Wes Anderson listed the movie as the fifth-greatest British film of all time.

34. Speed Racer

When the "Speed Racer" anime series was adapted into a live-action film by the Wachowskis, it bombed in more ways than one. For those unfamiliar with the "Speed Racer" franchise, the movie follows the titular 18-year-old racer participating in a cross-country race that supposedly claimed the life of his elder brother.

A commercial failure that earned $93 million on a $120 million budget (via Box Office Mojo ), "Speed Racer" received mostly negative reviews from critics , leading to a Razzie Award nomination for "Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel." However, the movie did receive praise for its stylized, anime-like approach and its impressive visual effects, which, as The Hollywood Reporter noted, were "stellar."

In recent years, "Speed Racer"'s reputation has continued to improve. IGN referred to the movie as a "masterpiece," saying, "Overall, this anime adaptation is not merely the best film that it could be, it's pretty much exactly what it should be: full of exciting, brilliantly-conceived races, primary-color characterizations and an irresistible sense of fun." Metacritic included it on their list " 15 Movies Critics Got Wrong ," writing, "Its masterful opening backstory sequence, a standout performance by star Emile Hirsch, and great turns by John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox, and Christina Ricci make 'Speed Racer' a cult film in the making."

33. Christine

There's no shortage of movies about possessed cars, the entire concept having grown into a strange, popular trend by the late 1970s — just look at movies like "The Car," "The Hearse," and "Killdozer!" — but by the 1980s, the entire subgenre had grown a bit stale. That is, until Stephen King and John Carpenter came along, reinvigorating the possessed car movie with their 1983 collaboration "Christine."

Based on King's novel of the same name, "Christine" begins when an awkward high school teenager (Keith Gordon) buys a vintage 1958 Plymouth Fury that he plans on rebuilding. The more time the teen spends working on the car, the more his personality changes and becomes more sinister— the car seemingly corrupting him and turning him into its own personal demonic vessel.

A creative partnership between King and Carpenter — both of whom were considered masters of horror operating at the top of their game in the early '80s — was bound to wield some entertaining results. Critics like Roger Ebert lauded the movie for its throwback approach and ability to give the Plymouth Fury such a distinct life of its own.

"By the end of the movie, Christine has developed such a formidable personality that we are actually taking sides during its duel with a bulldozer," said Ebert. "This is the kind of movie where you walk out with a silly grin, get in your car, and lay rubber halfway down the Eisenhower."

32. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Will Ferrell has lampooned plenty of sports in his career, from competitive figure skating in "Blades of Glory" to basketball in "Semi-Pro." Probably the funniest and most remarkable of Ferrell's sports movies, though, is his first: "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."

Ferrell plays overly-confident, speed-obsessed NASCAR champion Ricky Bobby. When an up-and-coming Formula One driver (Sacha Baron Cohen) sets his sights on becoming the next racing champion, Bobby's career and personal life spirals out of control as he struggles to remain ahead of the pack.

Complemented by side-splittingly funny performances from John C. Reilly, Michael Clarke Duncan, Gary Cole, and Jane Lynch, and featuring a mixture of "SNL" alumni and actual NASCAR drivers in cameo roles, "Talladega Nights" is an entertaining, ceaselessly humorous movie from start to finish. Numerous critics complimented both the movie's comedy and its racing sequences, which Entertainment Weekly called "scorchingly shot."

"Simultaneously teasing and loving a subject doesn't make for easy comedy, but writer-star Will Ferrell and director/co-writer Adam McKay pull it off with good-ol'-boy good nature in 'Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,'" said Variety . Even Christopher Nolan praised "Talladega Nights," saying "I'm never going to be able to switch that off."

31. Smokey and the Bandit

A beloved classic from the 1970s, "Smokey and the Bandit" is the story about two bootleggers (Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed) transporting hundreds of cases of Coors beer from Texas to Georgia, accompanied by a runaway bride (Sally Fields) and pursued by her hard-headed lawman father (Jackie Gleason). The seminal performance of Reynolds in particular as "the Bandit" is easily among the late actor's most iconic roles — a confident, wiley, charming daredevil who becomes more and more of a folk hero as his exploits are detailed over CB Radio.

Released in 1977, "Smokey and the Bandit" was a smash hit at the box office, grossing over $126 million on a budget of $4.3 million  and becoming the second highest-earning movie of the year, trailing only "Star Wars." Critics liked it too , with  the Hollywood Reporter  singling out legendary stuntman/director Hal Needham, who "makes the most of the action and progresses the film with a perfect light-hearted touch."

30. The Last American Hero

Based on the incredible true story of NASCAR driver Junior Johnson, "The Last American Hero" features Jeff Bridges in an early starring role as a young moonshine runner who finds a career racing professionally, rising through the ranks from local demolition derbies to national recognition in NASCAR. It's one of the movies that helped propel Bridges to Hollywood stardom, a wondrous, down-and-dirty tale that portrays races and chases in as gritty, nerve-wracking, and realistic a fashion as possible.

When the movie hit theaters in 1973, critics like the New Yorker 's Pauline Kael praised the movie for its balance between sports drama and a coming of age story about a young man who learns the true cost of success. Kael wrote that the movie "transcends its genre," showing Bridges' Junior Jackson (a fictionalized version of Johnson) growing from restless newcomer to seasoned and grizzled professional willing to make sacrifices in order to win.

29. Le Mans

1971's "Le Mans" feels like a cross between "Rush" and "Ford v Ferrari." Steve McQueen stars as an American racer participating in France's "24 Hours of Le Mans," an endurance test that sees some of the world's best drivers race for 24 hours straight. McQueen's character competes with a German archrival on the course while developing romantic feelings for the widowed wife of a former racing rival.

Uniquely, "Le Mans" utilizes actual documentary footage taken from the Le Mans' 1970 race the year prior. This aspect of the film helped set it apart when it came to official reviews, with most critics praising the racing footage. Variety  called it a "successful attempt to escape the pot-boiler of prior films on the same subject" which it achieved by "establish[ing] a documentary mood."

The movie has also been hailed as containing one of McQueen's greatest performances as the effortlessly cool, racing-obsessed Porsche driver at the heart of the film. "'Le Mans' needs to be rediscovered so that it can be hopefully embraced as one of star Steve McQueen's finest hours," wrote Slant Magazine .

28. The Driver

Walter Hill's "The Driver" was Hollywood's response to the French New Wave. A crime thriller with minimal dialogue and slow pacing, it's basically "Le Samourai" with cars. Ryan O'Neal stars as the eponymous character, an unnamed getaway driver whose talent behind the wheel leads to him being constantly pursued by the Los Angeles police, especially an obsessive detective played by Bruce Dern.

"The Driver" received disappointingly middling reviews when released in 1978, but since then has enjoyed an increasingly appreciative critical response, with a number of film scholars citing it as an influence on everyone from Michael Mann to Quentin Tarantino ( Tarantino once even described "The Driver" as "one of the coolest movies of all time").

The movie has also served as a clear influence on 2011's "Drive" and 2017's "Baby Driver," directed by Edgar Wright, who said that "its style has echoed throughout the work of Michael Mann, James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, Nicolas Refn and now me."

27. The Italian Job

A masterpiece of the comedic heist genre, the original "Italian Job" is also one of the most successful British cult classics there is. The plot sees Michael Caine as a confident Cockney professional thief who recruits a ragtag group of fellow criminals to steal a large cache of gold in Turin.

"The Italian Job" does a great job of blending humor with some genuinely thrilling scenes (not to mention the infamous and very literal cliffhanger ending). Containing an all-star cast of world-renowned talent for its day — Caine, Noël Coward, Benny Hill — the film earned critical acclaim upon its release in 1969, eventually landing on the British Film Institute's list of the Top 100 British films , and almost definitely influencing later ensemble-heavy heist movies like "Ocean's 11" and the "Fast & Furious" series. The Telegraph 's Robert Colvile probably summed it up best: "Is there a film — certainly a British film — that delivers a greater infusion of pure joy than 'The Italian Job'?"

26. Grand Prix

"Grand Prix" is one of the most well-known and critically acclaimed racing movies there is, featuring an international cast of celebrated actors from America (James Garner), Japan (Toshiro Mifune), the United Kingdom (Brian Bedford), France (Yves Montand), and Italy (Antonio Sabàto). It's the ultimate racing epic showcasing the Formula One competition in Europe, where the world's greatest drivers compete head-to-head for the top prize in global racing.

"Grand Prix" was one of the most successful films released in 1966, winning three Academy Awards for technical excellence and becoming the eight highest-grossing movie of the year. Possessing a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes , it's a movie that's been celebrated for its seminal racing scenes, meticulously designed and choreographed by director John Frankenheimer and Saul Bass (for his efforts, Frankenheimer earned a nomination for Outstanding Directing by the Directors Guild of America).

Critics like the New York Times ' Bosley Crothers hailed the movie as a "a smashing and thundering compilation of racing footage shot superbly at the scenes of the big meets around the circuit, jazzed up with some great photographic trickery." Even if critics like Crothers believed the movie lacked emotion or human interest in the characters, most agreed that "Grand Prix" boasted some incredible racing scenes that were nothing short of spectacular.

A universally praised film from Iran, 2015's "Taxi" is a docufiction film that stars its director, Jafar Panahi, as a shared taxi driver in Tehran. For an hour and twenty minutes, Panahi has a mixture of scripted and unscripted conversations with family members, friends, and complete strangers he encounters on the job, many of whom share their distinct views on the Iranian government and life in general.

"Taxi" is a charming slice-of-life film that offers a very introspective look at Iran and its citizens, made all the more poignant given the fact that Panahi himself has been banned from making films for 20 years by the government due to "making propaganda against the regime." In spite of the ban, Panahi has created some of his best and most popular films since the verdict came down.

Competing at film festivals across the globe, "Taxi" took home numerous top prizes in the industry, including the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. The 2015 Berlin jury president, Darren Aronofsky , called the movie "a love letter to cinema," going on to say that Panahi's film was "filled with love for his art, his community, his country and his audience."

24. Thelma & Louise

One of the most influential female-centered movies of all time, "Thelma & Louise" features Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon as two best friends who escape the monotony and oppression of their everyday lives and embark on a journey across the desert as fugitives. A modern retelling of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" with female leads as the focus, it's considered an iconic example of the road film, renowned for its clever gender inversion and exploration of feminism. According to the New York Times , "It reimagines the buddy film with such freshness and vigor that the genre seems positively new."

"Thelma & Louise" would go on to compete in practically every award ceremony there is, winning an Academy Award for Best Screenplay, Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Actress (both Sarandon and Davis), and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture. As Variety pointed out, "Even those who don't rally to the pic's fed-up feminist outcry will take to its comedy, momentum and dazzling visuals."

23. The Hitch-Hiker

The only Hollywood noir film directed by a woman (Ida Lupino), 1953's "The Hitch-Hiker" follows two men driving to Mexico for a fishing trip who pick up a hitchhiker along the way. Back on the road, the hitchhiker soon reveals himself to be a dangerous psychopath, taking the two men hostage and forcing them to drive back to Los Angeles, where he openly plans on killing them.

Based on the murders of Billy Cook — a serial killer active in the early '50s who murdered six people and kidnapped several more while hitchhiking across the United States — "The Hitch-Hiker" is a precursor to thriller films like the similarly-named "Hitch-Hike." The original, however, remains an achievement in itself, a noir film that is as suspenseful as it is claustrophobic, making brilliant use of its limited setting.

Positively reviewed when it was released , "The Hitch-Hiker" has since gone on to earn a highly respected reputation in the film industry, selected by the National Film Registry for preservation in 1998 for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant." In 2012, Time Out called it "Taut, tough, and entirely without macho-glorification, it's a gem, with first-class performances from its three protagonists, deftly characterized without resort to cliché."

Nicolas Winding Refn's adaptation of the novel of the same name, "Drive" features a very similar plot line to Walter Hill's "The Driver." Ryan Gosling stars as a nameless stunt man moonlighting as a getaway driver who, after getting involved in a botched heist, ends up on the run from some dangerous gangsters played by Ron Perlman and a brilliantly cast-against-type Albert Brooks.

Refn has a very set directorial style and tone in his films, and "Drive" is no different. Relying on minimal dialogue, many of the scenes are quiet, almost tranquil, accompanied by soft music that's randomly punctuated by acts of shockingly graphic violence. The artistic blend would ultimately pay off for Refn's film — critically praised overall , "Drive" appeared on many publications' lists for the best movie of 2011. Rolling Stone called it an "existential bloodbath" and "a brilliant piece of nasty business that races on a B-movie track until it switches to the dizzying fuel of undiluted creativity."

21. Tucker: The Man and His Dream

"Tucker: The Man and His Dream" is one of the many collaborations between close friends Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, this time with Coppola directing and Lucas producing. In 1988, their creative partnership resulted in a loose biographical film centered around Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges), an enthusiastic entrepreneur new to the automobile industry who goes head-to-head against business titans like Ford and General Motors.

Historically, Tucker ended up losing his corporate battle against these industry giants, but his innovation in automobile design resulted in commonplace advancements in safety features, like the inclusion of seatbelts , padded dashboards, and centered headlights. "Tucker: The Man and His Dreams" is a story about underdogs — about trying to pursue your dreams and, while not necessarily succeeding, still accomplishing something significant in spite of failure.

The movie was praised for its whimsical stylization and feel-good message, as well the performances of the actors involved. Co-star Martin Landau won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and was nominated in that same category at the 61st Academy Awards. According to the Chicago Reader , "Francis Coppola's stylish and heartfelt tribute to the innovative automobile designer Preston Thomas Tucker turns out to be one of his most personal and successful movies."

20. Two for the Road

Whenever Audrey Hepburn was paired with director Stanley Donen, the results were extraordinary. For proof of this, one doesn't have to look much further than some of their earliest collaborations, "Funny Face" and "Charade," now considered to contain two of Hepburn's most famous roles. In their third and final pairing together, Hepburn stars alongside Albert Finney as a married couple reflecting on their 12-year relationship as they drive through Southern France.

Considered ahead of its time for its nonlinear framing — it frequently flashes back to past episodes in the couple's marriage — "Two for the Road" won immediate acclaim when it was released in 1967, earning Oscar and BAFTA nominations for Best Screenplay and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for Hepburn. The Chicago Reader wrote that the movie is "arguably Stanley Donen's masterpiece, and undoubtedly one of the most stylistically influential films of the '60s," while the Austin Chronicle called the film "one of the very best films in each of Donen and Hepburn's careers."

19. Weekend

The final film of Jean-Luc Godard's peak years, "Weekend" is a satirical, absurdist dark comedy that lampoons both capitalism and French politics of the day. Released in 1967, the movie details the surreal journeys of a young affluent French couple driving through the countryside, encountering a wide array of colorful characters and violent car accidents along the way. "Weekend" critiques modern society's increasingly materialistic view of cars as a means of social ascension — the nicer the car, the more important, rich, and upstanding the owner believes themselves to be. Like most of Godard's 1960s films, it was a widespread success and was seen as one of the final highlights of French New Wave.

"Year after year, Jean-Luc Godard has been chipping away at the language of cinema. Now, in 'Weekend,' he has just about got down to the bare bones," said Roger Ebert . "This is his best film, and his most inventive. It is almost pure movie."

18. Death Proof

Quentin Tarantino's homage to the cheesy exploitation movies of the 1970s, "Death Proof" follows two separate groups of women, each of whom are stalked by the charismatic serial killer Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) who uses his souped-up muscle cars to claim the lives of his victims. Originally released with Robert Rodriguez' "Planet Terror" in the double feature "Grindhouse," "Death Proof" is an exceptional horror movie in its own right. It's full of Tarantino's signature elements — fast-paced dialogue, graphic violence, and a soundtrack full of hit songs from the 1960s — but remains unique in that it is Tarantino's first and only horror movie to date.

When "Death Proof" hit theaters in 2007, it had a divided response among critics. Some had a problem with the movie's somewhat slower pacing and long scenes of expository dialogue, while other publications were enthusiastic, with Empire writing "It won't please everybody, but 'Death Proof' is a berserk and memorable thrill ride that, like Stuntman Mike, is way, way smarter than it looks."

17. Taste of Cherry

Legendary Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami is something of a hallowed figure in the international film community, and watching any one of his many fantastic movies, it's easy to see why. A film about a man driving his truck around, looking for someone to bury him discreetly under a cherry tree, may sound pretentious to some, but in Kiarostami's very capable hands, "Taste of Cherry" manages to resonate with nearly every audience member.

A minimalist movie by every stretch of the word, "Taste of Cherry" is an engaging character study that explores life as fully and richly as possible, complete with meditations on the positive side of living and the sometimes excruciating pain that can sometimes manifests itself in everyday life. Critics were enthusiastic when it was released in 1997, with the film co-winning the Cannes Festival's Palme d'Or along with the Japanese film "The Eel." Entertainment Weekly called it "outstanding," saying "Taste of Cherry" is "so grounded in the real emotional scope of ordinary people that the magnitude of the subject is answered in the most mysteriously matter-of-fact way."

16. Joy Ride

A fun, underrated horror movie co-written by J.J. Abrams, "Joy Ride” finds two estranged brothers (Steve Zahn and Paul Walker) on a road trip from California to Colorado, pursued by an unhinged, murderous truck driver on whom the brothers have played a cruel prank. The movie makes perfect use of the expansive highways the brothers travel on (one where you might find a dangerous psychopath waiting for you around every corner) and Zahn and Walker are an ideal pairing as the bickering siblings, with Zahn's self-confident, hot-headed personality contrasting beautifully with Walker's baby-faced innocence prior to his "Fast and Furious" days.

"Joy Ride" did moderately well upon its release in 2001, with many critics favorably comparing it to Spielberg's "Duel." Since then, it's gone on to achieve a small cult following of fans and secured a more than decent rating on Rotten Tomatoes , IMDb , and Metacritic . "If you're looking to have your nerves fried and your pulse pounded, this is your ticket to ride," said Rolling Stone.

15. Fast Five

The "Fast & Furious" franchise took some time finding its voice, with the first four installments being relatively grounded, mildly entertaining movies about local street racers. "Fast Five" changed all that, steering the series towards the high-octane action franchise we know and love today, one that looks and feels a lot like "Mission: Impossible" or a James Bond film. Series protagonists Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), his former rival Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker), and a crew of street racers travel to South America with plans to steal $100 million from a notorious Brazilian drug lord, all the while being pursued by a dedicated American law enforcement agent (Dwayne Johnson) trying to bring them to justice.

"Fast Five's" radical new direction helped establish "Fast & Furious" as a distinct, entertaining franchise among worldwide audiences, garnering mostly positive reviews for its action and humor and securing $626 million at the box office. "The only time you won't be watching the screen," said the New York Times , "is when your eyes have squeezed shut because you're laughing so hard." 

14. Vanishing Point

An influential cult film from the 1970s, "Vanishing Point" is the high-speed story of Kowalski (Barry Newman), a former police officer, pro racer, motorcyclist, and Vietnam War veteran turned car delivery driver, as he races to reach his destination. Hopped up on drugs and outrunning highway police, the mysterious driver is assisted along his route by a blind DJ (Cleavon Little) with access to a police radio, always staying one step ahead of arrest on his cross-country journey.

"Vanishing Point" didn't get a ton of love from critics when it was first released in 1971, but in later years it would become a highly respected cult film . It's been referenced in everything from "Baby Driver" to "Death Proof" (the characters refer to it as "one of the best American movies ever made") and has been named one of Steven Spielberg 's favorite movies. The Chicago Reader commented that the movie "takes full advantage of the subject's existential and mythical undertones without being pretentious, and you certainly get a run for your money, along with a lot of rock music."

Every movie from the early days of Pixar is pretty much unbeatable when it comes to delivering entertaining animated films perfect for younger audience members (or audience members who are young at heart). "Cars" is one example of this, set in a unique universe populated entirely by anthropomorphic cars. Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is a promising and arrogant rookie racecar competing for the top prize in the world of professional racing. When he winds up sentenced to community service in a small desert town, however Lightning learns a few lessons about humility, as well as discovering there's more to life than simply winning.

As is the case with nearly all Pixar movies, "Cars" was a huge critical and financial success, earning $462 million . It also competed at the Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature , winning in that same category at the 64th Golden Globes. Time called it an "instant classic" that "straddl[es] the realms of Pixar styling and old Disney heart."

Based on one of the most famous rivalries in the history of pro racing, "Rush" examines the personal and professional competition between two drivers, Britain's James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austria's Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) during the 1976 Formula One race in Europe. The movie takes some slight historical liberties, but for the most part, Ron Howard's 2013 film provides an interesting snapshot of the Hunt-Lauda feud from both sides of the rivalry, exploring how having a worthy opponent can continuously motivate you to push yourself and be the best you can be.

"Rush" was critically praised when released to theaters, earning several award nominations , including a BAFTA nomination for Best British Film and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture (Brühl also received Best Supporting Actor nominations at the BAFTAs and Golden Globes). According to Variety , "Rush" is "not just one of the great racing movies of all time, but a virtuoso feat of filmmaking in its own right."

Often imitated but never duplicated, "Duel" has served as the primary inspiration for so many films on this list, from poorly-attempted ripoffs like "The Car" to modern horror films like "Joy Ride." Though made for TV originally, it's commonly considered Steven Spielberg's debut film, a story about a hapless everyman driver (Dennis Weaver) terrorized on the roadways by a hulking, fume-spewing tanker truck chasing him across the Mojave. In any other director's hands, "Duel" may have fallen flat, but Spielberg's talent propels the movie from a forgettable "ABC Movie of the Week" into a cult hit that showcases his undeniable directorial talent as he builds and maintains the movie's suspense from the opening credits to the climactic final showdown between man and machine.

Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Movie Made for TV and placed on Bravo' s list of "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments," the film has become a classic among Spielberg aficionados, frequently seen as his being among his most underrated movies . "'Duel' took advantage of the very narrowness of its premise, building excitement from the most minimal ingredients and the simplest of situations," said the New York Times .

An 85-minute feature film featuring a single character driving and talking on the phone may sound boring, but Steven Knight's 2013 psychological drama "Locke," is anything but. Tom Hardy plays Locke, a British construction worker whose entire career and personal life implodes around him as he makes a nighttime drive to be there for a coworker he impregnated in a one night stand. Though several actors' voices can be heard on phone calls Locke makes during the movie, Hardy is the only actor to be featured on screen, the entire film limited to and taking place over his single journey to do what he perceives is the right thing — owning up to his mistakes, even if it means the loss of his family and his job.

It's a suspenseful, minimalist film that's superbly acted by Hardy, who earned heaps of praise and a Best Actor Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Empire  called it "a daring experiment brilliantly executed, with Tom Hardy giving one of the performances of his career."

9. Baby Driver

Edgar Wright's take on the heist genre, "Baby Driver" is a love letter to numerous car-related films that Wright looked to for inspiration. The eponymous Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young, music-loving getaway driver trying to leave his life of crime behind and start fresh with the girl he's fallen in love with (Lily James), only to be pulled back in for one last job that seems to be his most perilous heist yet.

While a first-rate comedy heist movie, "Baby Driver" looks and feels like something more. As is the case with all of Wright's movies, dozens and easter eggs and references to past films Wright holds near and dear are hidden throughout. Even more impressive, however, is how meticulously chosen many of the songs that appear on the soundtrack are, each scene carefully edited to mirror the beat and tempo of the music.

Grossing nearly $227 million on a budget of $34 million, "Baby Driver" is the most financially successful movie in Wright's directorial career so far, and also among his most popular films. "An awe-inspiring piece of filmmaking ... that plays out as a musical through the lens of an action thriller. Sweet, funny and utterly original — you won't see a film like it this year,"  Empire  promised.

Steve McQueen secured himself legendary status in pop culture with his starring role in 1968's "Bullitt." Accompanied by an ultra-cool, jazzy score and equipped with an ink-black vintage Ford Mustang, Frank Bullitt, arguably McQueen's most popular character, is a hotshot San Francisco police lieutenant trying to protect an informant from Chicago mobsters. "Bullitt" is also one of McQueen's most acclaimed films, earning a place on several websites' lists for the best film of 1968 and The New York Times' list of the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made (it was also the fourth highest-grossing movie of the year). Today, it's most fondly remembered for its famous car chase, included on Time 's "The 15 Greatest Movie Car Chases of All Time."

Of the chase, Time said, "This is the one, the first, the granddaddy, the chase on the top of almost every list similar to this one." Roger Ebert summed it up even more clearly, writing that the movie's thrilling chase will "leave your stomach somewhere in the basement for about 11 minutes."

7. Holy Motors

A French surrealist film in the style of Terry Gilliam and Jodorowsky, "Holy Motors" offers arguably the strangest car-related journey on this entire list. In it, a wealthy, dedicated actor (Denis Lavant) journeys through Paris, stopping at different apartments and playing drastically different roles and character types with each new building he enters. Nearly every scene ends with some sort of heartfelt message or endearing lesson which the actor will seemingly take to heart, only for him to exit and commit himself to an entirely new performance instead.

"Holy Motors" isn't necessarily everyone's cup of tea, but it's still a distinctly unique movie that provides some emotional lessons about life in the form of its absurd storyline. In 2012, it competed for the Palme d'Or at Cannes  and received rave reviews. The Guardian wrote, "'Holy Motors' is weird and wonderful, rich and strange – barking mad, in fact. It is wayward, kaleidoscopic, black comic and bizarre; there is in it a batsqueak of genius, dishevelment and derangement; it is captivating and compelling."

6. Repo Man

How does one even begin to describe the utter chaos that is 1984's "Repo Man"? A movie without any discernible genre, it tells the story of a rebellious young punk (Emilio Estevez) who reluctantly joins a repossession agency, only to get caught up in a conspiracy involving a Chevrolet Malibu that has something mysterious and possibly supernatural stored in its trunk.

A quintessential '80s movie, "Repo Man" is a satire that lampoons subjects like consumerism, capitalism, and secretive government agencies. It's been praised for its ability to transcend genre, described alternatively as an off-kilter coming-of-age film, an alien invasion science fiction adventure, and a buddy comedy all at once. "'Repo Man' is one of those movies that slips through the cracks and gives us all a little weirdo fun. It is the first movie I know about that combines (1) punk teenagers, (2) automobile repossessors, and (3) aliens from outer space," said Roger Ebert .

Over the years, "Repo Man" has gained a strong reputation in the film community, placing seventh on Entertainment Weekly 's list of "The Top 50 Cult Films," as well as being nominated for the American Film Institute's list, 100 Years... 100 Laughs .

5. Collateral

Max (Jamie Foxx) is a hardworking cab driver Los Angeles working the night shift, who plans on one day owning his own limouisine business. Struggling to find the financial means to make his dream a reality, Max accepts a job driving a mysterious client (Tom Cruise) around town, realizing all too late that the client is a hit man on a killing spree across L.A.

An acting tour de force from Foxx and Cruise, "Collateral" is a fascinating study of motivation, analyzing how far someone is willing to go to achieve their dreams — even if it means entering into a Faustian bargain with a sociopathic hit man. "'Collateral is the best kind of genre filmmaking: It plays by the rules, obeys the traditions and is both familiar and fresh at once," proclaimed The Washington Post .

Praised for director Michael Mann's direction and for the two leading actors' performances, "Collateral" was named one of the best films of 2004 by the National Board Review , with Foxx nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and Academy Awards.

4. Ford v Ferrari

A racing movie where the scenes in the automotive workshops are just as interesting as the ones showing the actual race, "Ford v Ferrari" tells the underdog story of car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and his hotheaded British driver, Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they work to build a car capable of defeating the Ferrari racing team at the 1966 "24 Hours of Le Mans."

In the early 1960s, the name "Ferrari" was synonymous with Le Mans, having won the European endurance race five years in a row. All of that would change with Shelby and Miles' contribution to the race in the form of the Ford GT40, a project whose construction came after months of internal tension between Shelby and Miles, constant interference from Ford executives, and design flaws that needed to be worked out by a set deadline.

Grossing  $225.5 million at the box office, "Ford v Ferrari" was a critical and commercial smash hit, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture  and Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations for Best Actor for Bale. "'Ford v Ferrari' excels at evoking the sheer thrill of the race ... and it's compelling enough in those moments to make the case that nothing beats the thrill of competition," said IndieWire .

3. The Road Warrior

No list detailing the best car movies is complete without mentioning George Miller's "Mad Max 2," or as it's known in the United States, "The Road Warrior," one of the all-time classic examples of a post-apocalyptic film and perhaps the most well-known movie to ever come from the Land Down Under. Mel Gibson's hard-edged ex-lawman Max Rockatansky traverses the desert wastelands of Australia following a nuclear war, outrunning vicious bikers in his supercharged V-8 Pursuit Special.

Translating the archetypical Western storyline — a silent, deadly stranger comes to town and protects settlers from a roaming band of marauders — into its disastrous futuristic setting, "The Road Warrior" pioneered the post-apocalypse genre, influencing practically every game or movie with a wasteland setting that was released afterwards. A cult film with a massive following of dedicated fans, it's been voted the greatest action movie of all time in a readers' poll by Rolling Stone, and has remarkably high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb .

"Never has a film's vision of the post-nuclear-holocaust world seemed quite as desolate and as brutal, or as action-packed and sometimes as funny said The New York Times , which also called it "an extravagant film fantasy that looks like a sadomasochistic comic book come to life."

2. Two-Lane Blacktop

"Two-Lane Blacktop" captures and translate the spirit of the 1970s onto film. In their only acting roles, James Taylor and Brian Wilson star as a driver and his mechanic — street racers who travel around the United States challenging small-town locals to races. When they happen upon a middle-aged driver (Warren Oates) who possesses little knowledge about cars, they agree to a cross-country race, their hostility towards each other soon giving way to begrudging respect and a complex friendship.

A story analyzing masculinity and generational divides between two opposing groups (rebellious, free-spiried youths of the 1970s vs. older individuals still hanging onto their own fleeting young adulthood), "Two-Lane Blacktop" is the ultimate road movie, and one of the most unexpectedly profound racing movies there is.

Now a cult classic, the movie was labeled "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and chosen for preservation in the US National Film Registry . Publications like Time have praised the movie, writing, "The film is immaculately crafted, funny and quite beautiful, resonant with a lingering mood of loss and loneliness ... Even the small touches — the languid tension while refueling at a back-country gas station or the piercing sound of an ignition buzzer — have their own intricate worth."

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Narrowly beating out "The Road Warrior" for the best "Mad Max" entry, "Mad Max: Fury Road" is a high-speed joy ride that shattered expectations when first released in 2015. Topping an undisputed classic like its predecessor wasn't going to be easy, but "Fury Road" proved everyone wrong, one-upping George Miller's original post-apocalyptic extravaganza in every way possible.

A soft reboot of the "Mad Max" franchise, Tom Hardy slips on the iconic shredded leather jacket of series protagonist Max Rockatansky, joining forces with a group of women fleeing a tyrannical warlord on an epic chase through the desert. Looking back at the finished film — a cinematic achievement in editing, action, stunt coordination, practical effects, costume design, and storytelling — it's easy to see why "Fury Road" was so revolutionary, an adventure movie that featured women in prominent starring roles and contained some of the most impressive stunts ever captured on film.

At the 88th Academy Awards, "Fury Road" was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director , and ended up winning the most awards at the ceremony, including Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design. Already it's considered the greatest action movies of all time by Rolling Stone  and one of the best sequels ever made by Time , Saturday Evening Post , and Empire . It's also been named one of the best films of the 2010s by publications like Time Out and . And now, "Mad Max: Fury Road" can call itself the best car movie in cinematic history.

good car trip movies

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The Funniest Road Trip Comedy Movies

Ranker Film

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.

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
  • # 226 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 12 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

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.

  • # 217 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 31 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 146 of 379 on The Best Movies Of The '90s, Ranked

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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  • # 199 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies


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.

  • # 32 of 399 on The Best Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
  • # 162 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 132 of 191 on The Best Movies For Men

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.

  • # 281 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
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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.

  • # 47 of 399 on The Best Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
  • # 174 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 32 of 204 on Musical Movies With The Best Songs


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).

  • # 181 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 11 of 117 on The Best Movies Of 1996
  • # 56 of 168 on The Best '90s Comedy Movies, Ranked

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.

  • # 517 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 324 of 636 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time
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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.

  • # 504 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 35 of 113 on The Best Movies Of 2001
  • # 223 of 636 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time

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.

  • # 370 of 636 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time
  • # 597 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 36 of 113 on The Best Movies Of 2001

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
  • # 391 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 117 of 232 on The Best '80s Comedy Movies, Ranked

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.

  • # 316 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 37 of 99 on The Best Movies Of 2004, Ranked
  • # 173 of 636 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time

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.

  • # 360 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 316 of 636 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time
  • # 24 of 102 on The Best British Comedy Movies

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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  • # 154 of 399 on The Best Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
  • # 229 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

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.

  • # 545 of 636 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time
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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.

  • # 165 of 191 on The Best Movies For Men
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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.

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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.

  • # 672 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 385 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
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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.

  • # 654 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 74 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 29 of 167 on The Greatest '60s Movies, Ranked


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.

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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.

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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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  • # 159 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
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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.

  • # 54 of 90 on The 85+ Most Inspirational Movies Of All Time
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  • # 43 of 139 on The Best Movies Of 2007

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.

  • # 604 of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 406 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 30 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 64 on The Funniest Crime Parodies and Spoof Movies, Ranked
  • # 43 of 57 on The 50+ Best Movies About Con Artists
  • # 50 of 67 on Great Movies About Male-Female Friendships


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.

  • # 459 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
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  • # 38 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.

  • # 263 of 472 on The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
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  • # 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.

  • # 179 of 675 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars
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  • # 24 of 57 on The 50+ Best Movies About Con Artists

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.

  • # 556 of 636 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time
  • # 100 of 137 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.

  • # 519 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
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Dirty Grandpa

Dirty Grandpa

Robert De Niro and Zac Efron share an outlandish and uproarious road trip as a grandfather-grandson duo, exploring the wild side of life amidst endless comedic debauchery. This light-hearted comedy proves that age is just a number when it comes to having a good time.


This animated adventure cleverly combines heartwarming family moments with laugh-out-loud humor as two elf brothers embark on a quest to resurrect their late father. Their magical, journey is riddled with hilarious mishaps and surprising discoveries, making it an unforgettable road trip comedy.

  • # 121 of 455 on The 400+ Best Animated Kids Movies
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To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

Three fabulous drag queens hit the road on an inspiring cross-country journey, teaching audiences about friendship, love, and acceptance. With tongue-in-cheek humor, they face adversity head-on, making it a hilarious and heartfelt road trip classic.

  • # 124 of 168 on The Best '90s Comedy Movies, Ranked
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Johnson Family Vacation

Johnson Family Vacation

A family road trip turns into an outrageous comedic adventure as Cedric the Entertainer leads his family to a reunion, encountering various eccentric characters and obstacles along the way. The perfect blend of slapstick humor and heartfelt moments make this a must-watch comedy.

  • # 154 of 472 on The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
  • # 15 of 81 on The 70+ Best Black Family Movies, Ranked
  • # 47 of 70 on The Very Best Black Movies Of The 2000s

Bad Trip

A hidden camera comedy follows two pals as they hilariously navigate a wild road trip filled with unexpected (and oftentimes awkward) encounters. Eric André and Lil Rel Howery's undeniable chemistry ensures non-stop laughter throughout this outrageously fun ride.

  • # 106 of 125 on The Funniest Black Movies Ever Made
  • # 38 of 64 on The Funniest Crime Parodies and Spoof Movies, Ranked
  • # 129 of 137 on The Best Bromance Movies

Something Wild

Something Wild

Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith form an unlikely pairing in this road movie that takes them on a journey of self-discovery and unexpected romance. These two unforgettable characters catapult the film from quirky comedy to thrilling adventure, captivating audiences from start to finish.

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The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Two drag queens and a transgender woman traverse the Australian Outback in a glitter-adorned bus named Priscilla, displaying their outrageous fashion sense and irresistible humor. This unforgettable comedy chronicles the growth of friendship, acceptance, and self-discovery amidst wild escapades.

  • # 72 of 85 on The Best Movies Of 1994
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Impractical Jokers: The Movie

Impractical Jokers: The Movie

Fans of the hit hidden-camera TV show will love this off-the-wall road trip comedy packed with their favorite pranks and challenges. The Jokers' chemistry and quick wit make this a non-stop laugh fest as they compete in a high-stakes competition.

The Last Laugh

The Last Laugh

Two old friends reunite on a road trip to explore a long-lost dream of becoming stand-up comedians. Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss deliver heartwarming performances packed with laughter and life lessons in this endearing buddy comedy.


An army ranger and his military canine companion embark on a heartwarming and humorous journey in this touching buddy comedy. The dynamic between man and dog leads to countless entertaining situations along their road to healing.

  • # 53 of 163 on The 150+ Best New Comedies Of The Last 5 Years, Ranked
  • # 92 of 104 on The 100+ Best Dog Movies Of All Time
  • # 32 of 52 on The Best Date Night Movies Of 2022

Interstate 60

Interstate 60

A young man stuck at a crossroads in life embarks on a magical and mind-bending road trip down the mysterious Interstate 60. With delightful detours and peculiar characters, this enigmatic comedy offers a fun and thought-provoking journey.


Five college buddies embark on one last wild road trip before facing the inevitable realities of adulthood. Kevin Costner stands out in a lively ensemble cast, exploring themes of friendship and growth in this entertaining coming-of-age comedy.

  • # 92 of 96 on The 90+ Best Movies Of 1985, Ranked
  • # 37 of 203 on The 200 Best PG Indie Movies
  • # 55 of 86 on The Best Amblin Entertainment Movies

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Sacha Baron Cohen returns as the iconic Kazakh journalist, taking audiences on another hilariously bizarre cross-country journey through America. This time, joined by his daughter, they tackle social issues with their unique brand of cringe-worthy yet ingenious humor.

Road Trip: Beer Pong

Road Trip: Beer Pong

Boozy antics and chaotic misadventures define this comedy sequel centered on a group of friends in pursuit of the ultimate beer pong championship. Their outrageous journey guarantees countless laugh-out-loud moments throughout.

Rolling Kansas

Rolling Kansas

The Road Within

The Road Within

  • # 113 of 117 on The Best Free Movies On YouTube, Ranked
  • # 52 of 71 on The 70+ Best Movies About Disability
  • # 11 of 31 on 30 Movies About Eating Disorders You Should Watch

The Family Plan

The Family Plan

  • # 46 of 94 on The 75+ Best Family Comedy Movies
  • # 14 of 28 on The Best Apple TV+ Movies
  • # 60 of 96 on The 75+ Best PG-13 Action Movies

Uncle Frank

Uncle Frank

Set in the 1970s, Paul Bettany's portrayal of a gay man confronting long-buried family secrets on an unexpectedly emotional road trip will captivate viewers. This heartfelt drama-comedy explores themes of acceptance and self-discovery with both laughter and tears.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie

Between Two Ferns: The Movie

Zach Galifianakis takes his offbeat talk show on the road in this hilarious mockumentary-style road trip comedy. With cringe-inducing celebrity interviews and side-splitting antics, it's a perfect blend of humor and adventure.

Away We Go

John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph give charming performances as a couple searching for a place to call home before their baby arrives. Their cross-country journey is filled with laughter and love, making this indie dramedy a feel-good voyage.

Joy Ride

  • # 575 of 707 on The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
  • # 418 of 636 on The 600+ Funniest Movies Of All Time
  • # 236 of 244 on The Best Movies For Women


Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira team up in this poignant and humorous road trip comedy about two teenagers seeking a legal abortion. It's a timely, entertaining exploration of friendship and female empowerment that never loses its heart or sense of humor.

The Guilt Trip

The Guilt Trip

Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand create a memorable mother-son duo in this heartfelt comedy about a cross-country sales trip. Their endearing rapport and comedic mishaps make for an enjoyable voyage filled with laughter and family bonding.

The Long Dumb Road

The Long Dumb Road

The Man in the Hat

The Man in the Hat

Delightfully whimsical and charming, this French road trip comedy follows a man and his tiny Fiat 500 as he embarks on an eccentric journey through picturesque France. The film's lighthearted adventures, coupled with its enchanting musical score, make it a captivating cinematic escape.

  • # 97 of 102 on The Best British Comedy Movies
  • # 203 of 208 on The 150+ Best New Comedies Of The Last 5 Years, Ranked
  • # 91 of 122 on The 100+ Best Indie Comedies, Ranked
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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  and on Instagram @globetotting . 

What to Pack for Your Next Trip

Mom’s/women’s camping outfit, shop the look.

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Rambler 20 oz Tumbler

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Long-Sleeve Waffle Tee

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Mini Sleepy-Eyes Backpack

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Big Long Sleeve Solid Cardigan

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Glitter Best Dad Graphic Tee

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Warrior Knee Joggers

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Super Deluxe Book Pack

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Streamlight 88052 ProTac HL USB 850 Lumen Professional Tactical Flashlight

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Thermos Funtainer 12 Ounce Bottle

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Fleece Crewneck Sweatshirt

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Everyday Chino Shorts

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Disney Stitch Plush

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Baby boy’s disney outfit.

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Anti-Slip High Top Sneaker

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good car trip movies

10 Car Movies Based On A True Story To Watch If You Loved Ford V Ferrari

  • Ford v Ferrari is an exhilarating true story that provides epic car racing scenes for fans of car movies.
  • There are standout car movies based on real events, like The Hitch-Hiker and The Great Race , that offer thrilling and entertaining experiences.
  • Bullitt and Le Mans , starring Steve McQueen, offer authentic and riveting portrayals of the world of car racing.

Car lovers and racing fans have a lot of great movies to choose from that showcase the power of automobiles and a handful of movies like Ford v Ferrari showcase the true stories that cater specifically to motoring enthusiasts. James Mangold's Ford v Ferrari stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale in the true underdog tale of Ford competing in the Le Mans race for the first time and taking on Ferrari. It is an exhilarating true story that provides some great opportunities for some epic racing scenes, which is a large part of the appeal.

While there aren't a huge number of movies based on real events in the world of cars and driving, there are some standout examples that were inspired by true stories like Ford v Ferrari . These movies can take place in the competitive racing world in a true sports story, they can be exciting four-wheeling adventures loosely based on true events, or even movies with stories based on real people whose most significant moments happened behind the wheel (or in the passenger seat). These movies like Ford v Ferrari give the kind of adrenaline-fueled entertainment car lovers are looking for.

How Ken Miles Really Died (& Why Ford v Ferrari Changes It)

The hitch-hiker (1953), the tense noir based on the billy cook murders.

Road trip movies are a versatile car-centric subgenre and can provide everything from wacky family comedies to intense horror movies. The Hitch-Hiker falls closer into the latter category with his film noir that is based on a wild true story. It follows two men who go on a fishing trip, but after picking up a hitchhiker, the road trip turns a lot more sinister — and murderous.

The movie is inspired by the hitchhiker murders of Billy Cook, a killer who claimed six lives in 1928. Along with its more grim nature, the movie is about the freedom of the road and the growing car industry. Therefore, it has the thrilling aspect of cars for the genre lovers, but The Hitch-Hiker is also a great thriller . The movie is considered a noir classic with it being named to the National Film Registry in 1998.

Watch On Prime Video

Ford v Ferrari Cast Guide: How The Characters Looked In Real Life

The great race (1965), the outlandish contest based on a real global race.

For viewers who love the comedic and racing aspect of Ford v Ferrari, the 1965 action-comedy The Great Race is a suitable follow-up that's also inspired by real events. The Great Race takes place in the early 20th century and follows two rivals on a global race based on the 1908 race from New York to Paris . A precursor to wacky road racing movies like Cannonball Run , The Great Race has a lot of fun with the absurdity and epicness of the long race while also featuring a star-studded cast including Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Natalie Wood.

While it's nowhere near as grounded as Ford v Ferrari, The Great Race is an entertaining ride filled with old cars, a riveting story, and plenty of slapstick comedy . It's also about making the best automobile for the job, sharing that theme of the passion behind fast cars that are in movies like Ford v Ferrari .

Bullitt (1968)

Steve mcqueen races around in a mustang as an iconic movie cop.

Release Date October 17, 1968

Director Peter Yates

Cast Don Gordon, Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, Simon Oakland, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Duvall

Runtime 114 minutes

Bullitt is an action thriller that is not technically about cars. However, it is one of the favorite movies for car lovers as it is most famous for having one of the best car chases in cinema history. The movie stars Steve McQueen in one of his most iconic roles as Frank Bullitt, a cop in San Francisco and follows Bullitt's investigation of the murder of a key witness .

While the case itself is not based on any true story, Bullitt is based on a real-life detective, Dave Toschi, best known for his investigation of the Zodiac Killer . The plot is clever if a little forgettable, but the real thrill of the movie is McQueen's cool-headed performance and the pulse-pounding car chase sequence through the streets of San Fransisco which leads to an explosive conclusion.

Le Mans (1971)

Steve mcqueen's take on the race ford v ferrari centers on.

Steve McQueen was known for being a car lover and racing enthusiast in real life so it is not surprising that he has appeared in a few notable car movies. While Bullitt may have the more memorable car-centric action sequences, Le Mans is more cemented in the actual world of car racing . It is a look at t he nail-biting 24-hour race which was also at the center of Ford v Ferrari , with Le Mans starring McQueen as one of the daring racers.

Le Mans dives deep into every inch of what it takes and what occurs during this huge race. This movie is as real as it gets when it comes to race-car driving, and McQueen actually tried to enter the race for real. It makes for a riveting and authentic cinematic experience and an underrated sports movie that deserves to find a wider audience.

Ford V Ferrari: 5 Real Historical Connections (& 5 Made Exclusively For The Movie)

The last american hero (1973), a moonshiner turns racecar driver.

There are a lot of very interesting characters in the world of racing, like Ford v Ferrari's Ken Miles, and some of the most fascinating have been explored in movies. The Last American Hero stars Jeff Bridges as a character inspired by racing legend Junior Johnson , a former moonshiner who competes as one of the best NASCAR racers in the world.

Bridges is always a likable lead, especially with characters whose ambition and love of life are larger than those around him. This movie is all about growth and ambition, and it's an intriguing tale as much as it is riveting. Johnson makes for an easy hero to cheer for with his amazing story feeling tailor-made for a Hollywood story. From running moonshine to driving on the NASCAR circuit, there are some spectacular car racing scenes .

Days Of Thunder (1990)

A hotshot racer looks to be nascar's best.

Days of Thunder isn't totally based on a true story, but the main character is loosely based on two racecar drivers, Tim Richmond and Geoff Bodine, with some of the scenes reflecting real-life events. Following their success with Top Gun , Tom Cruise and director Tony Scott looked to capture the same fast-paced excitement with their exploration of the world of NASCAR racing.

Once again, Cruise plays the hotshot in the driver's seat who has nothing to lose. His character Cole Trickle comes into the racing world with something to prove and pushes himself to the limit. However, he is also backed up by a stellar supporting cast with Nicole Kidman, Michael Rooker, and Robert Duvall. Tony Scott is a master filmmaker whose handling of the thrilling race sequences is the clear highlight of the movie .

Watch On Paramount+

Senna (2010)

A documentary about an f1 tragic icon.

Among the great sports documentaries, there are not too many that focus on the world of racecar driving. However, Senna is not only a thrilling and fascinating movie for fans of the sport, but it is also gripping for people who have no connection to racing at all. The documentary tells the story of Aryton Senna, the Brazilian Formula One icon, his rise to fame in the '80s, and his tragic death .

With Netflix's Drive to Survive getting more mainstream audiences interested in Formula One, there are perhaps even more who are exploring the amazing legacy of Senna and this documentary is a perfect place to get the riveting and tragic tale of his life. While Senna makes for an inspiring figure in the story, it is also thrilling to look at all of the real-life footage from some of the biggest races in the sport.

Why Ford v Ferrari's Title Is Different In Europe (& Why It's Bad)

Rush (2013), an f1 rivalry as intense as the ford ferrari feud.

Starring Daniel Brühl and Chris Hemsworth, Rush tells the story of the rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda , in the 1970s. Directed by Ron Howard, the movie is an action-packed look at the talented athletes who rise to the top of the sport and the harrowing races in which they compete. The limits they push in the sport lead to some harrowing moments while also setting the stage for an incredible comeback story.

The two main characters are wonderfully opposed and larger than life, with Hemsworth bringing Hunt's big personality and fun-loving energy, while Bruhl steals the show with Lauda's complex personality that can be annoyingly arrogant and impressively calculating. It remains an underrated sports drama, and the rivalry between the two central characters is as rich and complex as that of Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby .

Watch On Netflix

The Green Hell (2016)

A dive into the world's most difficult track.

2016's The Green Hell is another documentary that takes viewers inside the world of racecar driving which Ford V Ferrari masterfully fictionalized. However, like Senna and its exploration of the tragedy behind his death, The Green Hell gives a nail-biting and intense look at the dangers of the racing world. The Green Hell tells the stories of all the drivers who have tackled what has been called the most treacherous and challenging racetrack in the world — the Nürburgring in Germany .

The German movie features interviews with real-life racers, including Niki Lauda of Rush fame, as they recount the unforgiving terrain of this track. It is another movie brought to life through thrilling real footage that gives a new appreciation for the talent and courage of these drivers. Seeing these drivers give first-hand accounts of the brutality of this track is a thrilling and intense ride.

American Factory (2019)

A documentary about the clashes a chinese car factory in working-class america, american factory.

Release Date August 21, 2019

Director Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar

Rating TV-14

Genres Documentary

A final documentary within the car movie genre, this Oscar-winning film is absolutely perfect for those who loved the 'American made' aspect and conflict in Ford v Ferrari . American Factory takes place in Ohio, where Chinese billionaires open a factory where General Motors used to be . With thousands of Americans hired, this movie dives into the creation and invention of cars, all mixed in with conflict among countries and classes.

Movies like Ford v Ferrari go into the love of these cars that is as necessary as the respect drivers have to have for them and American Factory is one of the best movies to showcase the production. However, it is also a fascinating look at a wide variety of subjects, from the culture clashes to the death of the auto industry in some American towns. It is a complex and insightful story with a lot of layers to explore.

Ford v Ferrari

Director: James Mangold

Release Date: 2019-08-30

Cast: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Caitrona Balfe, Josh Lucas, Jon Bernthal

Writers: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller

Rating: pg-13

Runtime: 152minutes

Genres: Drama, sport

Budget: $97.6 million

Studio(s): TSG Entertainment, Turnpike Films, Chernin Entertainment

Distributor(s): 20th Century

10 Car Movies Based On A True Story To Watch If You Loved Ford V Ferrari

Iowa among best states for a road trip this summer. The reason may be due to your wallet

good car trip movies

Load up the car with snacks and have a playlist ready to go. Iowa is one of the best states in America for a road trip this summer, according to WalletHub .

The personal finance company ranked all 50 U.S. states to determine “the most fun, scenic and wallet-friendly road-trip destinations.” Rankings were based on factors such as average gas prices, hotel prices, number of attractions, traffic-related deaths and more.

The Hawkeye state was ranked 14, with neighboring state Illinois following. Its strong score may be attributed to it ranking high for the categories of cost and safety, coming in at No. 14 (again) and No. 3 overall respectively.

In fact, Iowa was fourth for the lowest average cost of car repairs, WalletHub found.

What is the best state for a road trip in 2024?

Texas nabbed the No. 1 spot on WalletHub’s ranking, scoring high in part thanks to its number of attractions, such as zoos and amusement parks, that those on a road trip may want to check out. Texas also offers motorists thousands of miles of scenic byways in addition to cheap hotel room prices and plenty of restaurants per capita, according to WalletHub.

Need a break? Play the USA TODAY Daily Crossword Puzzle.

The top 10 best states for a road trip this summer are:

  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania

What is the worst state for a road trip in 2024?

Delaware came in last, ranking especially low for activities and cost.

What was WalletHub’s methodology?

WalletHub looked at 32 metrics under the categories of costs, safety and activities to determine the best states for road trips, the personal finance company described. For cost, the lowest price of a three-star hotel room was considered among other measures. For safety, measures included the quality of roads to the number of violent crimes. Access to scenic byways and the number of historical sites per capita were just two of the measures for the category of activities. Data used is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Park Service, TripAdvisor and more.

What are some things to do on a road trip in Iowa?

Some things to do in Iowa? Try 113 things to do this summer in Iowa.

Highlights include:

  • Travelers in southeast Iowa will want to try the swinging bridge in Columbus Junction that spans 262 feet.
  • Up north, music lovers will want to stop by the Surf Ballroom and Museum in Clear Lake, which welcomed musicians from Roy Orbison to Duke Ellington, according to the museum . Then, visit the nearby field where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. “the Big Bopper” Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson were killed in a plane crash in 1959. 

Those who have an appreciation for the outdoors may want to build in some extra time on the road trip to visit one of the best camping spots in the Midwest, according to Dyrt , located in southwestern Pottawattamie County. Or take a car tour through the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, voted the best national wildlife refuge to visit in America. There, you may spot bison, elk and other wildlife.

Fans of the supernatural will want to visit the Edinburgh Manor in Monticello for a chance to experience a haunting. It’s one of several destinations that travelers may want to take a detour for when they want something off the beaten path in Iowa.

Paris Barraza is a trending and general assignment reporter at the Des Moines Register. Reach her at  [email protected] . Follow her on Twitter @ParisBarraza .

What are the worst times for car travel during July 4 week? Here's what AAA says.

With Independence Day approaching July 4, people are planning on hitting the road.

And according to AAA Northeast , that means traffic — lots of it.

“Summer vacations are in full swing and with the flexibility of remote work, more Americans are taking extended trips around Independence Day,” AAA Northeast Senior Spokesperson Mark Schieldrop said in a statement sent to USA Today Network New England. “We anticipate this July 4 week will be the busiest ever with an additional 5.7 million people traveling compared to 2019.”

Here's what to know about traveling during the upcoming holiday.

How many travelers are expected on the roads for July 4 travel?

AAA is projecting that 70.9 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home during the holiday travel period from June 29 to July 7.

This year’s projected number of travelers for that time period represents a 5% increase compared to 2023 and an 8% increase over 2019, according to a statement from AAA Northeast.

Travel: Sick of delayed flights at the airport? AAA suggests flying at this time of day

How many people are expected to travel by car?

AAA stated that a record 60.6 million people will travel by car over Independence Day week, which represents an additional 2.8 million travelers compared to 2023.

What are the worst times to travel by car during July 4 week?

AAA said that "the worst times to travel by car on the days leading up to and including July 4 are between 2 and 7 p.m., according to transportation data and insights provider INRIX ."

AAA added that the worst traffic delays are expected Wednesday, July 3, "as travelers leave town, and on Sunday, July 7, as they return."

Here are the best, worst times to travel by car during the upcoming holiday week, according to AAA Northeast.

How many travelers are expected to fly next week?

AAA stated that the number of people flying is also expected to set a new record. The auto agency is estimating that "5.74 million people will fly to their July 4 destinations . That’s an increase of nearly 7% compared to last year and a 12% increase over 2019."

Are people traveling by other ways as well?

AAA noted that more than 4.6 million people are expected to travel by other modes of transportation during the upcoming holiday week . Those means of travel include taking buses, cruise ships and trains. This category is seeing an increase of 9% compared to last year.

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My husband has been risking our kids’ lives with this illegal act in the car.

Thanks for contacting us. We've received your submission.

A mom has made a horrifying discovery about the illegal act her husband does when he drives their small children without her.

And she only busted him because their young daughter complained.

“He was endangering their lives”

In a post that would terrify most parents, the distraught mom  wrote :

“As I was buckling up my daughter today, she started to complain that she doesn’t want to be buckled up and that her dad doesn’t make her buckle up on short trips.”

mom buckling kid into car

“I confronted my husband and he admitted that he doesn’t always buckle up the kids on short trips and even short trips driving on highways.”

She continues:

“I literally had no idea that he does this until now and he apologized and said what he did was wrong and it won’t happen again. I honestly always assumed he was more responsible and never expected this from him.”

kids in backseat of car with parents

“I know I can’t change the past and thank god nothing happened but I’m just so mad that he was endangering their lives and I had no idea in the years he’s been driving them.”

“Whenever we drive in the family car together, I always make sure they’re buckled up and had no idea he wasn’t taking the same precautions when he was driving them in his car.”

“I’m so mad at myself that I assumed he was buckling them up, but the thought never crossed my mind that he wouldn’t do so.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong”

baby with seatbelt buckle

All of the commenters were empathetic with the mom.

“You have no reason to be mad at yourself, you didn’t do anything wrong,” one wrote. “Normal people buckle up their kids, they don’t need to be told to do so. Short trip, long trip, it doesn’t matter, he endangered them multiple times and apologized only because he got caught.”

This mom said (somewhat unhelpfully): “I would have so much anxiety wondering what else he was / wasn’t doing relating to safety. My mind would be reeling!”

Others agreed with the sentiment, though, with this parent writing, “I would have a VERY hard time trusting his judgement after this.”

This commenter shared her experience in a different country during her childhood: “I was raised in a country where really no one uses seatbelts and even I know better. My son complains and doesn’t like being buckled sometimes, but I’d rather listen to him complain than put him in danger.”

Lastly, there was this helpful suggestion about what the dad should do next: “He needs to tell your daughter that he was wrong and that it’s against the law to not wear a seatbelt. Daddy made a big mistake. So many kids and people got hurt and dead that they made it a law.”

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mom buckling kid into car


The Best Car Air Fresheners to Keep Your Ride Smelling Fresh

Don't let those drive-thru fries stink up the place!

the best car air fresheners to keep your car smelling fresh into 2023

We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.

Car Air Freshener Vent Clip

Best Overall

Febreze car air freshener vent clip.

Whole Car Air Refresher

Meguiar's Whole Car Air Refresher

Car Air Freshener

Best Hanging

Little trees car air freshener.

There are many car air fresheners out there that can help, but our goal is to help you find the best ones. At the Good Housekeeping Institute, we tested some of the most notable car air fresheners on the market to pull together a list of the best ones, from hanging cards to vent clips to traditional spray bottles.

There's a reason we named these the best car air fresheners in our roundup of the best air fresheners for every room in your home . The minimalistic design looks at home on your car's dashboard, they start working instantly as your car circulates hot or cold air and they can last up to a month. One tester was particularly enthused by the design, saying, "It's nice and small, and the black color blends perfectly into my vents and leather dashboard." Some users also note the minimalistic vent clip design is preferable to a swinging or hanging air freshener which can distract while driving.

In our testing, we noticed the scents may be a bit overbearing when first installing, but these clips are equipped with a dial on the back that lets you adjust the amount of fragrance released so you can easily tune them to your preferences. The brand claims they last for a full 40 days on low.

Type: Vent clip | Scent: 13 options | Size: .28 ounces

This innovative pick from Meguiar's works a little differently from the rest of the air fresheners on our list. While most spray bottle air fresheners simply have you spray an inconspicuous place in your car, this air freshener is a "scent bomb" that claims to eliminate odor by using the air circulation in your car. Simply close all your windows and doors, turn your air conditioner on high, and activate the canister's locking trigger. Leave the car for 15 minutes, then open all the doors and allow your vehicle to air out for an additional 10-15 minutes before hitting the road.

While it isn't as expedient as many other air fresheners, users say it's both easy to use and highly effective. One user says it cleared up smoke smells from a nearby forest fire; another said the scent lingered for months.

Type: Scent bomb | Scent: New car | Size: 2 ounces

These hanging air fresheners are a massively popular pick for keeping your car smelling nice year-round. They're simple, easy to install, and do exactly what they claim — replace your less palatable car scents with more preferable ones. We are particularly impressed with the sheer number of scents available (40 on Amazon!).

While some drivers may not like the distraction of a dangling item in their view, we can't help but admire the simplicity that these offer. If you don't want to hang it from your mirror, you can get creative and tie it around a vent adjuster, door handle or even a headrest. And who said you had to keep them in the car? They're versatile enough to hang anywhere you want a fresh boost.

Type: Hanging | Scent: 40 options | Size: 4.65 x 2.74 inches

Air Spencer CS-X3 Squash Scent Air Freshener

CS-X3 Squash Scent Air Freshener

For the individualist who wants their car scent to stand out among the masses of green pastures and ocean breezes, we present the Air Spencer CS-X3. This refillable air freshener sits atop the dashboard to eliminate foul car odors.

The name is a bit of a misnomer in that this air freshener doesn't actually smell like squash — it has a citrusy sweet scent that many reviewers have compared to Ramune, a popular Japanese soft drink. Since this is a Japanese import product, getting refills might not be as convenient as some of our other picks, but how cool will you sound when you tell passengers that you import your air freshener?

Type: Dashboard | Scent: Squash | Size: Not listed

Drift Wood Freshener

Wood Freshener

We love just how beautiful this car air freshener is. The wood block is soaked in essential oil and has an organic, minimalist appeal. It clips into the car's sun visor using an included clip. Drift offers a subscription model so that when your old freshener starts to fade, you'll have a new one at the ready for your use.

Our Lab pros were wowed by this air freshener's design and equally impressed with the scents offered by the brand. Many of them, like coffee and teak, skew more masculine and are scents we've never seen before for in car air fresheners. We also loved the "scent of the month" option which features seasonally limited edition scents curated for the specific time of year.

Type: Visor clip | Scent: 7 options | Size: Not listed

Chemical Guys Signature Scent Premium Air Freshener and Odor Eliminator

Signature Scent Premium Air Freshener and Odor Eliminator

If you don't like the feeling of a vent clip blowing scented air toward your face as you drive, a more subtle approach may be better. Chemical Guys makes a great-smelling air freshener in a spray format that lets you have more control over your air freshening application.

Testers were pleased by the spray's uniquely sweet and leathery scent that some Amazon reviewers compared to the Air Spencer CS-X3, meaning this may well be a more accessible dupe. While we liked the spray format, we noticed that upon first using it, the nozzle can get a little clogged and deposit more of a stream of liquid than a true mist, so you may want to do a couple of test sprays before applying to avoid depositing too much at once.

Type: Spray | Scent: Signature scent, black frost | Size: 16 ounces

Bath & Body Works Laundry Day Car Fragrance

Laundry Day Car Fragrance

If you're looking for a lot of options and a wide selection of both familiar and seasonal scents, look no further than Bath & Body Works. The shopping mall staple offers a variety of different vent clip styles so you can customize your dashboard, and the multitude of scents will appeal to those who like to switch it up.

One consumer tester noted they are strongly scented, and as such may not be for those who are easily overwhelmed. They also emphasized just how large the scent selection is and how they enjoyed being able to pick their favorite familiar Bath & Body Works scents for use in their vehicle . With 15 scents currently available online, even the pickiest connoisseur of scent is sure to find something agreeable. Type: Vent clip | Scent: 15 options | Size: .2 ounces

Yankee Candle MidSummer's Night Sidekick Vent Clip Fragrance Kit

MidSummer's Night Sidekick Vent Clip Fragrance Kit

Since deciding which car air freshener to use is so personal, we're always impressed with products that give the consumer as many options as possible. The Yankee Candle Sidekick features dispensers in vent-clip, visor-clip and hanging forms that all take the same refill.

A starter kit contains one dispenser and two refills, each of which the brand claims lasts for 30 days. Our Lab pros appreciate the novelty of using the same refills for different forms of car air fresheners. It seems so obvious, yet it's so uncommon! We also love that there are scents that mimic some of Yankee Candle's most beloved candle scents like Pink Sands and Clean Cotton. If you're already a fan of the brand's candles, you'll easily find a perfect freshener for your car. On the downside, some users say the scent doesn't linger for as long as they'd hoped.

Type: Vent clip | Scent: 15 options | Size: 06 ounces

Maison & Muse Car Freshener Vent Clip

Car Freshener Vent Clip

Like other vent clips, this air freshener is very simple to use — you simply activate it and clip it onto your dashboard — or even back seat — vents. What separates this pick from the rest of the pack, though, is the scent. Our Lab pros found it to be more subtle than our best overall pick. The options are also all inspired by famous people — like Marilyn Monroe, Whitney Houston, Audrey Hepburn, etc. — which is a fun touch. We tested the vanilla and caramel (inspired by Marilyn Monroe), which was noticeable but not at all fake or overpowering.

We liked the aesthetic of this pick, too. The whole freshener is black, so it looks better on the dashboard and is less noticeable than others we've tested. Plus, it pivots to all angles, so you can direct it away from you.

Type: Vent clip | Scent: 4 options | Size: Not listed

Pura Car Fragrance Diffuser

Car Fragrance Diffuser

This is one of the more innovative car air fresheners we've ever tested — it's a mini diffuser for your car. As such, it does have to be plugged into your car's USB outlet to work and only works when the car is moving. When the car stops moving it shuts off. But our Lab pros say you don't have to keep it up front with you; if your car has a rear USB port, that works just as well to avoid distraction or clutter around the dash.

Unfortunately, the scent discs are sold separately, but there are 35 very pleasing scents to choose from from luxe brands like Nest and Capri Blue. Once we had both in hand, we found the device easy to set up and use — it's all via a compatible smartphone app . Once up and running, the app even tells you how much scent is left and lets you adjust, stop and start it.

Type: Diffuser | Scent: 35 options | Size: .176 ounces

How we test car air fresheners

woman holding up a car air freshener in a car

Air fresheners are difficult to test in a controlled way, especially within the confines of the Good Housekeeping Institute, and recreating the environment of a car for such testing is an even bigger feat. Since we don't have the smell chambers necessary to do the most granular testing, we evaluate air fresheners similarly to how consumers do — by using them in our cars and seeing how they stand up to each other in real-life scenarios. We also appraise car air fresheners based on their design appeal, how easy they are to use and the variety of scents available. We evaluate claims made by different air fresheners and review their formulations and safety data sheets.

How can I make my car smell good permanently?


While it may be virtually impossible to have your car perennially smell brand new, there are some steps you can take to reduce the displeasing odors in your car and maintain a fresh scent for longer. First of all, preventing odor-causing messes is key. Using items like car seat covers can prevent smelly liquids from seeping into your car's upholstery, and many are machine washable making cleanup super easy. Second, you'll want to clean your car's interior regularly with a handheld vacuum and use a detailing spray or leather wipes to clean the upholstery. We've rounded up the best car cleaning products to help you find exactly what you need. Once your car is sparkly clean, consider using a car air freshener to mask or eliminate odors between cleanings, guaranteeing a fresh-smelling car year-round.

What to look for when buying a car air freshener


✔ Type : Car air fresheners come in a variety of formats that each have their benefits. Hanging fresheners are the easiest to set up. Vent clips won't obscure your field of vision as you drive and instantly start working once the air begins to circulate. Sprays give you more exact control over how much deodorizing you need, and the "scent-bomb" format lets you make sure every nook and cranny of your vehicle is pleasantly fragranced. When making the decision, consider what's most comfortable when you're driving and any risks inherent to the type (more on that below).

✔ Scent : Just like household air fresheners, car air fresheners are available in just about every scent you could imagine. This is an area of personal taste rather than objective truth, so you'll want to pick something that you know you and any regular passengers enjoy. If you or any passengers have fragrance sensitivities, a more thorough and regular car cleaning may be a better route than installing an air freshener.

✔ Safety : Consider both the safety of the driver and passengers when choosing your car air freshener. If the driver is apt to be distracted by a swinging object hanging from the rearview mirror, consider vent clips or a spray. If you have kids, make sure they cannot access your air freshener, as many fragrances are irritating and may be harmful if swallowed. Exercise caution and do not remain in the vehicle while using a "scent-bomb" air freshener.

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Why trust Good Housekeeping?

line image

Nikolas Greenwald has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Northeastern University. He's no stranger to a safety data sheet analysis and uses his knowledge of formulation chemistry and chemical safety to take a look at products being vetted at the Good Housekeeping Institute. He also helps to refine testing protocols and data systems across the Institute based on industry standards and his knowledge of thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and data science.

Headshot of Nikolas Greenwald

As a data engineer in the Good Housekeeping Institute , Nik (he/him) works with all of our Labs to develop testing protocols and manage data collection and analysis. Before joining Good Housekeeping in 2022 , Nik worked in the labs of MIT and Regeneron, working on projects ranging from chemical inventory and reporting to the development of bioassays. He holds a degree in chemical engineering from Northeastern University.

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