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There are few better ways to pass the time on road trips than kicking back and watching a movie in the car. However, a dull film can put a damper on things. You need to choose a movie that shares a road trip’s qualities: long, adventurous and thought-provoking. Here are the ten best road trip movies that fit these criteria.
1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-03)
Other road trip movie lists don’t often mention the Lord of the Rings, but this trilogy has everything you could ask for. The breathtaking cinematography of Middle Earth and its larger-than-life characters will have you captivated through all three films. It has action, romance, comedy and tragedy rolled into one fantastic journey.
The trilogy’s sheer magnitude also makes it one of the best road trip movies. The theatrical edition runs for 9 hours and 17 minutes, while the extended edition is a whopping 11 hours and 22 minutes long.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
All the Mad Max films are solid in their own rights, but Fury Road stands above the rest of the franchise. Some even consider it the best action movie of all time. We won’t go that far, but we will say it’s a thrilling experience from start to finish. The tribalistic characters of the post-apocalyptic world are enough to get your attention, but the insane vehicles and extended driving sequences make it the perfect fit for a road trip movie.
3. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
The dumbest movie on this list might also be the funniest. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels make a hilarious duo of bumbling idiots getting into trouble on a journey across the midwest United States. A road trip movie plot can’t get much better than that. It also might make you feel more confident behind the wheel, because you can’t possibly drive as bad as they do.
4. Tommy Boy (1995)
Tommy Boy also features two idiots – David Spade and the late Chris Farley – traveling around the country to save an auto parts factory. It has some hilarious road trip moments that you will be sure to appreciate in the car, but also a few sobering scenes and a plot line that many working-class viewers can relate to.
5. Logan (2017)
Hugh Jackman’s final appearance as Wolverine is his greatest performance in the role, but the character’s journey across the U.S. to protect his daughter is also the most entertaining and gruesome superhero film in recent history. Superhero films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we suggest you make an exception for Logan.
6. Taxi Driver (1976)
The oldest movie on this list starring greats Robert DeNiro and Jodi Foster follows a lone taxi driver navigating the filthy streets of New York City. The screen time behind the wheel makes it a fitting road trip movie, but it also explores deep moral themes that we often contemplate on long journeys when our thoughts run free.
7. Drive (2011)
A “best road trip movies” list would not be complete without a high-speed action flick. We considered one of the Fast and Furious movies for that role, but Drive does a better job of balancing the action. It can be calm and methodical one moment, but frantic and fast the next – just like a road trip.
8. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
If you’re looking for an example of what not to do on a road trip, National Lampoon’s Vacation is a good place to start. The dysfunctional Griswold family will show you all the ways to get into trouble on a long-distance drive. Some call it cheesy and others call it comedic genius, but we simply call it a great road trip movie.
9. The Blues Brothers (2000)
Road trips sometimes feel more like urgent missions than leisurely adventures, and The Blues Brothers illustrates that contradiction perfectly. The musical duo might only travel through Illinois, but they cause enough destruction for a cross-country trip and establish a clear sense of urgency from the get-go.
10. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
Sacha Baron Cohen’s classic mockumentary follows him from his native Kazakhstan to the United States, and there are many laughs in between. It’s one of the best comedy films of the 21st century and will undoubtedly keep you entertained during your road trip. The 2020 sequel also deserves an honorable mention.
Try a New Movie on Your Next Road Trip
The best road trip movies don’t have to be four-star masterpieces, but they do have to keep you engaged from start to finish. Every movie on this list achieves that goal. Next time you’re planning for a road trip, take a minute to consider one of these films as your source of entertainment.