Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Thursday Movie Picks Meme: Road trip Movies

This week, the theme for Wanderer's Thursday Movie Picks Meme is Road Trip Movies. The criteria for those kinds of films should be pretty self-explanatory. As the title implies the subject is films that center around a road trip, commonly known simply as "road movies". It is a pretty simple structure: you have a character or group of characters who start at Point A, then something happens that requires them to get to Point B. The plot is centered around the journey between Point A and Point B, and everything that happens along the way. Plenty of films follow this basic formula. In fact stretching the definition enough one could argue that The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit could both be considered road movies.

Of course, the category here was not "road movies" but "road trip movies", which means that in this case there should be an actual road trip of some form. Generally most people think of a "road trip" as getting in some kind of vehicle (usually a car, though any vehicle or a combination of different vehicles could be used) and driving on the road to a pre-determined destination. Strong Bad once said that every good road trip needs a good inside joke, that only people who went on the road trip will get. You'll also need keys and a functioning car. Oh, and if you end up passing by a diner called "beneath the passenger seat" it's probably best that you don't stop there. Just remember to stay jumbo/large.

Now my job is to find three unusual choices for Road Trip films (that hopefully nobody else has thought of) and put them together in a list for you to see:

John Carpenter's Starman (1984)

Did you ever feel like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial really was not that great a movie? Well, then this is the movie for you, Starman being a more adult version of the same idea. This is also an unusual film to see from a man like John Carpenter (yes, the same guy who made Dark Star and The Thing) in just how uplifting and optimistic it is. In fact some accounts even claim that Carpenter made it as an apology for the then-critically panned The Thing, but it is still a surprisingly emotional film (Jeff "The Dude" Bridges even received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the Starman). It has the right balance of different emotions: there is some great fish-out of water comedy on the part of the Starman but at the same time it is not afraid to get serious when it has to. It is movies like this that show how Carpenter is much more than the so-called "Master of Horror" and he has a much greater range of talents.

The Straight Story (1999)

A lot of people remember David Lynch as the guy who makes all the really weird mind-boggling movies. While he has produced his share of such films, it is easy to forget about that he actually does have a few that are not so surreal and subjective. One of the best examples would be his 1999 adventure The Straight Story. Even the title demonstrates how unusual this is for Lynch ("straight" being both in reference to the name of the protagonist and the fact that Lynch is making a film that actually makes sense for once). Okay, the concept of an old man riding a lawnmower between states is a bit unusual, but really it is a simple story about an old man trying to make amends with his estranged brother. It was also the final acting role of Richard Farnsworth, who proved to be a perfect fit for the role as he had a lot of the same health problems as the man he was playing.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

It's a bit funny that for a franchise that is centered entirely around people fighting for control of the road and killing each other for fuel, it took four films before George Miller thought to make one about a road trip. This is also one intense road trip; in fact the entire narrative is basically a feature-length car chase with a few breaks. There is action, chaos, and tension, but at the same time there is bonding among the various characters and a strong emphasis on overthrowing patriarchal society. It is a very exciting movie and of course there is a road trip of sorts.


  1. I enjoyed Fury Road tremendously, and loved how Furiousa was a central character and her working relationship with Max. I can't wait for the movie to come out on DVD, barely even caught it showing in theaters.

  2. I haven't seen any of these, but Mad Max is something I definitely will eventually with all the praise it's been getting.

  3. Straight Story! That's such a great film, and so unexpected considering the director. I was one of adored ET...and didn't care for Starman at all, but it's been years so maybe I should revisit it.

    I NEED to see Mad Max!

  4. I haven't seen the new Mad Max yet though its definitely on my list and I've always wanted to see The Straight Story but just haven't caught up with it yet. However I love Starman, Jeff Bridges gives the most wonderful performance, full of nuance. It also provided the under-rated Karen Allen a decent part for a change.

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  6. Great picks! I have not seen the last 2 although "The Straight Story" is on my list and I had no idea until a few years ago that it is a true story. Love "Star Man" It is refreshing since the alien is not evil. I actually watched the short-lived TV series

  7. Hey, STAR MAN is an excellent pick! I completely forgot about that one.
    Haven't seen your other two choices yet.

    Mike's Cinema

  8. I'm not a E.T. fan myself, but Starman is great. I love your picks.

  9. I haven't seen your first 2 picks but I'm glad to see Fury Road in someone's list, I very nearly picked it for my own!
    - Allie

  10. I have always wanted to The Straight Story but haven't gotten to it. Starman is a movie I've only heard of, but I definitely want to check it out. Love Jeff Bridges. I wish I had liked Fury Road as much as everyone else. I mean, I liked it...a lot, but it didn't totally blow me away or anything. Cool pick either way!

  11. I've not seen The Striaght Story but I have noticed it crop up on other lists. Not seen Starman either - but if Jeff Bridges is in it - might take a look. But I do love ET. YES! Mad Max Fury Road is a perfect pick for this theme. Love that film.