Summer is upon us and that means blockbuster season at the cinema. The usual treats are all on offer again: from comic book action to family-orientated animations, there is something for everyone.
But nothing captures those heady days of endless sunshine better than a classic road movie. The thought of hitting the road with your closest friends and leaving your troubles far behind has a timeless appeal.
The latest road movie to be hitting your screens this year is a star studded adaptation of On The Road, so why not raise the anticipation by revisiting some old favourites, and drive off into the sunset with some of these choice titles:
Thelma and Louise (1991)
A perennial favourite of single ladies everywhere, Thelma and Louise was a ground-breaking and immensely successful movie in its day. The film became a rallying point for modern feminism in film, but essentially it is a tragic buddy movie set on the road.
Geena Davis‘ career-defining depiction of put-upon housewife Thelma saw the passive character befriending the carefree and confident waitress Louise, played by Susan Sarandon.
As the pair makes their way across country in a cool T-Bird convertible, they encounter brutality and deception, and decide to enact their own revenge against the men who have wronged them. But as the film progresses, the line between victim and aggressor blurs and a final showdown with the law becomes inevitable.
Ridley Scott’s understated direction allowed a cast of accomplished character actors the room to create personas so rich and convincing that the film remains a genre highpoint to this day.
Midnight Run (1988)
Before his success as overbearing patriarch Jack Byrnes in Meet The Parents, Robert De Niro’s finest comedic performance was in 1988’s Midnight Run.
Playing bounty hunter Jack Walsh, De Niro is pursuing – and then teaming up with – Charles Grodin’s dodgy accountant Duke. The film expertly blends the road movie and the odd couple formulae, and these two miss-matched characters in turn bicker, bond, fix each other’s personal problems, and ultimately unite against a common enemy.
Although remembered mostly for De Niro’s first successful attempt at light entertainment, the film’s winning contribution is actually provided by Grodin: dead-panning his way through the movie as mayhem is unleashed all around him.
Road Trip (2000)
The culmination of 1990s slacker culture, Road Trip perfectly encapsulated the cynicism, sarcasm and irony of the decade with its deliberately self-referential style and a cast of losers portrayed effortlessly by -amongst others – Tom Green and Sean William Scott.
The premise is a simple one. A college kid has a one-night stand: a poor decision which is compounded by the fact that he has inexplicably videotaped the event. The video inevitably gets posted in the mail to his long-distance girlfriend, forcing him to race across country to try and beat the equally slack postal service to his girlfriend’s college and retrieve the incriminating evidence.
The jokes may be from the tried and tested school of gross-out gags, but the set pieces and performances – as well as the self-awareness of the characters as they set out on their own filmic adventure – places Road Trip above the similar comedies of the time.
Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
The credits for this film are tantalising to say the least: a cast fronted by Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro; mesmerising direction by Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam; and based upon the writing of Hunter S Thompson. It is astounding then that this film was widely overlooked by audiences at the cinema.
But with its release on VHS, cult status was assured. “Fear and Loathing…” ploughed across college campuses like a Cadillac through the desert, and this psychedelic, drug-fuelled hallucination of a road trip became the new standard by which others are judged.
Ostensibly, Depp’s Raoul Duke is travelling to Vegas to cover a bike race through the Nevada desert. Needless to say, he finds himself side-tracked by a briefcase full of narcotics and a particularly unsavoury travelling companion posing as his lawyer.
The performances are intense and the dialogue electrifying, but it was Gilliam’s visionary direction which made this film so unique. His outlandish glimpses into a world of drug-induced delirium redefined the “trip” in this particular road trip.
When you strap in for your road movie marathon, make sure you’ve checked what are the best broadband deals so you can visit your favourite movie rental site knowing it’ll be a smooth ride all the way.