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15 Best Road Trip Movies Ever

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Road trip movies are an important segment of cinema. They capture the freedom that the road can bring you, the laughs you can share among friends, and the failures and screw ups you sometimes can’t escape even when you leave home behind. Hollywood has given us an abundance of these flicks (heck, they’re a dime a dozen nowadays), and we’ve seen pure movie genius in some, embarrassing excuses for art in others, and, sometimes, just an hour and a half’s worth of comedic gold.

Below we’ve collected the indisputable (no, really, don’t dispute us) ranking of the 15 best road trip movies ever. Check it out:

 best road trip movies: natural born killers

15. Natural Born Killers

Mickey and Mallory are lovers who come from unsettling childhoods, and set off on a murderous rampage through New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah along the appropriately-named Route 666. While the movie’s main objective is to shine a spotlight on the way the media glorifies violence, Natural Born Killers remains one of the best road trip movies out there. Full review…

est Road Trip Movies: Interstate 60

14. Interstate 60

This overlooked metaphysical comedy features an all-star cast and an unconventional approach to road trips. As James Marsden travels across the fabled Interstate 60, he visits multiple roadside towns involving parable-based scenarios. This results in a fascinating study of human ethics—think Frank Capra meets The Twilight Zone. Full review…

 best road trip movies: Fear and Loathing in las vegas

13. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro take a long, strange trip to the dark heart of The American Dream. Terry Gilliam’s film, based on Hunter S. Thompson’s book of the same name, was widely feared and loathed upon its release, but it is garnered considerable critical and cult acclaim over the years. It’s a magnificent work of weird and well worth the while.

best road trip movies: smokey and the bandit

12. Smokey and the Bandit

In this action comedy classic, a man known as The Bandit is hired to take a trailer filled with Coors beer to Georgia in an act of bootlegging, while being tailed by sheriff Smokey. The film is the perfect blend of thrills and laughs and, while not being the greatest road trip movie of all time, definitely deserves a shot.

 best road trip movies: easy rider

11. Easy Rider

This is arguably the most influential road trip movie ever made. In fact, it’s one of the most influential movies ever made, period. This landmark countercultural biker flick launched the careers of stars Peter Fonda (who directed), Dennis Hopper (who co-wrote with Fonda and Terry Southern), and Jack Nicholson. Not only that, it launched the New Hollywood phase of filmmaking that dominated the 1970s and allowed auteurs like Coppola, Scorsese and Spielberg to emerge. Today the movie definitely feels like an artifact of 1969, but it’s still a worthwhile watch.

 best road trip movies: duel

10. Duel

This tense thriller about a man on a business trip being relentlessly pursued by a malevolent trucker would probably be mostly forgotten today if it wasn’t for the fact that Duel happens to be director Steven Spielberg’s feature film debut. That would be a shame, though, because this is a great little movie whether or not you know its pedigree. Originally a made-for-television ABC Movie of the Week, Spielberg exceeded expectations, which resulted in Duel getting a theatrical release in Europe. French film critics saw a great deal of symbolism in the story, although Spielberg claims he was just trying to make High Noon on wheels. Full review…

 best road trip movies: zombieland

9. Zombieland

Zombieland is the perfect blend of zombie horror film and outrageous comedy—but it’s also an impressive road trip flick to boot. Set in the zombie apocalypse, four unlikely companions team up to travel from Texas to California in hopes of finding other survivors, or even a single Twinkie. After getting off on the wrong foot, they eventually must work together to fight off zombies and reach their ultimate destination. Full review…

best road trip movies: dumb and dumber

8. Dumb and Dumber

The two dumbest men in the world team up to unknowingly deliver a briefcase full of ransom money to the woman who left it for the kidnappers. Dumb and Dumber features Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels at their best and most hilarious, and is at the same time a hilarious buddy movie, a touching portrayal of friendship, and an instant classic. Full review…

best road trip movies: paper moon

7. Paper Moon

No relationship has been captured on film better than the Oscar-winning dynamic between father and daughter O’Neal. Not only does Paper Moon deliver a heart-wrenching chronicle of an abandoned, cigarette-smoking daughter conning strangers with her could-be father, it also paints an unforgettable portrait of depression-era life on the road.

 best road trip movies: little miss sunshine

6. Little Miss Sunshine

When seven-year-old Olive earns a place in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant, her dysfunctional family sets off on a road trip from their home in New Mexico to Redondo Beach, California, in their dilapidated Volkswagen Type 2 bus. With many hilarious obstacles in their way, will the family make it to the pageant in time for Olive to perform the rather inappropriate dance her grandfather helped her choreograph? Full review…

 best road trip movies: the blues brothers

5. The Blues Brothers

Oftentimes, when a Saturday Night Live skit is stretched into a feature length film, it starts to feel pretty padded. Yet despite its paper-thin premise and two hour-plus running time, The Blues Brothers manages to transcend its small-screen roots and become a true comedy classic. Directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues, this feature-length car chase features cameo performances by musical legends that include James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles. No matter how ridiculous the plot gets, this movie can’t fail – just like its titular brothers, who are “on a mission from God.” Full review…

 best road trip movies: national lampoon's vacation

4. National Lampoon’s Vacation

Hard to believe, but there was once a time when the words “National Lampoon” were not synonymous with “Direct to DVD.” National Lampoon’s Vacation is one of the highlights from the franchise’s golden age, with a hilarious screenplay by John Hughes (who adapted his own short story, “Vacation ’58”) and clever direction from Harold Ramis. Chevy Chase is perfect as the archetypical lame dad who is driven to insanity by the trials and tribulations that come with being stuck in a Wagon Queen Family Truckster station wagon with your family as you drive across the country to get to Wally World.

best road trip movies: It Happened One night

3. It Happened One Night

We wouldn’t have the road trip movies we enjoy today were it not for this Oscar-sweeping romantic comedy that propelled Frank Capra to stardom. Challenging the filmmaking conventions of the time, this fast-and-witty flick follows bickering Elie and Peter as they cross America and fall in love. There’ve been many imitators but it’ll remain the best. Full review…

best road trip movies: thelma & louise

2. Thelma & Louise

Thelma & Louise is one of the most iconic road trip films in cinema history, detailing two desperate but free women on the run from the law as they risk everything to make it into Mexico. The characters’ depth—combined with the exciting twist on the typical road trip movie—have solidified this film’s spot on nearly every “best road trip movies” list you’ll find. Full review…

Best road trip movies: planes, trains, and automobiles

1. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

It’s the odd couple on the road. Steve Martin and John Candy are at their peaks in this timeless screwball comedy which reminds us what Thanksgiving is all about. Although they get on each others’ nerves, the main characters are sympathetic and worth rooting for. That’s why the last fifteen minutes are unrivaled in road movie history. Full review…

Are you a glutton for punishment? Then check out these 10 worst road trip movies ever. Or, if you’re in the mood for a belly-aching laugh, consider our list of the 10 goofiest road trip movies instead.

Image Sources: The Directors Company, Rastar, Rhino Films, Universal Studios, Warner Bros, Raybert Production