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Three of the Best Road Trip Movies

With Identity Thief, Mad Max: Fury Road and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip grossing between R12-18 million at the box office, road trip movies have done big business over the last few years. However, these represent a small percentage of the genre. Some of the greatest South African films in history have been about road trips. The following are three such movies that every cinephile should check out.

Easy Rider: A Movie About The New American Dream

This 1969 film stars Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda as two bikers who travel across the American South. Along the way they meet a wide variety of people, including an alcoholic lawyer played by a young Jack Nicholson. Easy Rider changed cinema in several ways. It is considered one of the catalysts for the New Hollywood era, a period in the late '60s and '70s when American cinema took a counter-cultural shift. Films began to poke and prod the establishment in which they used to comfortably sit. This tale of two hippies made road trip movies a symbol of more than just freedom and fun.

Nebraska: A Film About Family

Now for a movie that is both freewheeling and fun. Nebraska is a comedy-drama from 2013 about a son who takes his father on a road trip to claim a million-dollar prize that he thinks he won. Spoiler alert: he hasn’t, but the movie isn't about the prize; it’s about the cross-country bonding experience between father and son. In the end, when the father realises that the prize is a sham, the son trades in his Subaru for a late-model truck, the kind that the father wished to buy when he received the money. This gesture is prize enough.

The Straight Story: A Literal And Figurative Straight Story

The Straight Story is not your typical road trip movie. It’s directed by David Lynch, and based on the true story of an elderly man named Alvin Straight, who traveled 390 kilometers on a riding lawnmower to visit his ailing brother. Since the lawnmower had a top speed of eight kilometres an hour, the trip took six weeks. Alvin Straight is portrayed by Richard Farnsworth in an Academy Award-nominated performance. Farnsworth was suffering from cancer during production; The Straight Story was his final film.

There is a wealth of road trip movies worth watching. Though Easy Rider, Nebraska, and The Straight Story are some of the best the genre has to offer, they are the tip of the iceberg. Just as the open road symbolises so much in real life, it symbolises so much in film.