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Top Ten Road Trip Movies

Road trips. They’re the stuff summer adventures are made of. Whether you’re looking for road-trip inspiration, living vicariously through fiction, or just want a little escapism, here are ten great road-trip movies perfect for those summer evenings at home.

Road Trip Movie: It Happened One Night

This Capra-directed 1934 classic is considered one of the first “screwball” romantic comedies, and arguably the most prestigious road-trip movies on this list: it won Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Adaptation at the 1935 Academy Awards. A runaway heiress (Claudette Colbert) and an unemployed newspaperman (Clark Gable) spend most of the film on the road — by bus, by car, by foot, and by “thumb” — in this inverted Cinderella tale.

Road Trip Movie: Thelma & Louise

This girls-on-the-run version of the classic buddy film ends with one of the most iconic freeze-frame endings in film history. This isn’t a road-trip movie to watch for vacation inspiration. It might make you want your very own 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible, however — and maybe your very own Brad Pitt.

Road Trip Movie: The Motorcycle Diaries

Even Che Guevara liked road trips. Gael Garcia Bernal portrays a pre-revolutionary Guevara, making his way across South America on motorcycle in this award-winning film. This man’s journey is as much transformational as it is geographical.

Road Trip Movie: Smokey and the Bandit

This road-trip film is pure adventure, with the legendary Bo “Bandit” Darville (Burt Reynolds) on a 28-hour mission to deliver Coors beer from Texas to Georgia. When he picks up a hitchhiker (Sally Field), the beer-delivery trip turns into a high-speed chase.

Road Trip Movie: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The title says it all. This 1987 get-home-for-Thanksgiving misadventure comedy is a must for any road-trip-movie list. It’s like The Odd Couple on the road, with a high-strung Steve Martin and accident-prone John Candy making their way from Chicago to New York over a stressful three days. Going home for the holidays will feel so effortless after watching this one.

Road Trip Movie: Rain Man

Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman star in this Oscar-winning pic. After his father dies, Tom Cruise’s Charlie Babbitt discovers he has an autistic older brother — one with a serious fear of flying. Enter a cross-country road trip packed with character development.

Road Trip Movie: Little Miss Sunshine

The yellow Volkswagen T2 Microbus is as much the star of this film as any of Little Miss Sunshine’s ensemble cast members. This little road-trip film about a dysfunctional family frantic to get to a pageant on time is full of heart. Note: You’ll never listen to Rick James’ “Super Freak” the same way again.

Road Trip Movie: National Lampoon’s Vacation

Dreading that dictated family vacation? Let the Griswold family’s misadventures cheer you up. In an effort to spend more quality time today, the Griswolds (headed by funny man Chevy Chase) pile into a junk-pile-worthy Wagon Queen Family Truckster and head out from Chicago on a cross-country journey to Walley World. Cringe-worthy hilarity ensues.

Road Trip Movie: The Straight Story

This road-trip movie is based on the true story of Alvin Straight’s 240-mile trip on his 30-year-old riding lawn mower to reconcile with his dying, estranged brother. You’ll have a newfound respect for lawn tractors — and a sudden urge to hug your brother — after watching this beautiful film.

Road Trip Movie: Tommy Boy

This “road comedy” follows Tommy Callahan on a cross-country sales trip as he tries to sell 500,000 brake pads in a last-ditch attempt to save his family’s business, Callahan Auto, slowly destroying his 1967 Plymouth GTX in the process. The cult hit is on Ebert’s “most hated” list, so watch only if the combo of Chris Farley and David Spade is your cup of (comedic) tea.

Any road-trip flicks not on our list that you love? Please share!

Image Courtesy: Warner Bros.