Rama’s Screen: Top 5 Reasons We Love Road Trip Movies

Welcome to our weekly column by YSN member and movie aficionado Rama Tampubolon. He runs the movie, music and book review website, Rama’s Screen, and was featured in “United 300,” which won for “Best Spoof” at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. He’ll discuss the latest hot topics and movie reviews every Thursday on Waste Time Wisely.

I’m traveling a lot these days because of what I do for a living as a recruiter for La Sierra University. Despite the obligation, I do love road trips. I live in the sunny California, which I really enjoy, but sometimes there is that urge where I just need to get away. I’ve driven to New York and back and I’ve gone to Oregon and Washington and back. America is a beautiful country, what can I say?!

If you notice carefully, movies usually have seasons: summer blockbusters, Oscar-contenders in the fall… and then the not-so-good ones are thrown in winter and spring. Recently, we’ve been flooded with road trip movies. Whether it be traveling solo (Into the Wild) or in a group (Moving McAllister), even legends such as Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman will do a road trip together this coming January in the movie The Bucket List.

So this whole thing brings me to wonder: What it is that makes road trip movies appealing?

1). Family Redefined
Nothing’s more frustrating than living in a dysfunctional family, but Hollywood seems to find that kind of thing attractive, so if you think your family’s story is messed up enough for a movie studio to buy movie rights from you, then it’s your decision to make. Last year’s indie hit Little Miss Sunshine went beyond everyone’s expectation and even managed to claim a nomination for Best Picture.

A family decides to do a road trip so that the little daughter can participate in a beauty pageant. Each character has his/her own problem but their experiences and the time they share while on the road together brings them back together as family again. In the end, they’re all still different in personality and lifestyle but through one girl’s dream, a connection that was once missing is fixed. The movie Rain Man is another perfect example. The upcoming Darjeeling Limited is along the same line, about three brothers who take a train trip across India in hopes that they would bond and become brothers again like they used to be.

2). That’s What Friends are For
Two people who hate each other’s gut might end up liking each other given enough time. It’s a proven fact that even if you don’t find the other person’s face to be attractive, but if you spend enough time seeing him or her at work, at school and have frequent conversations, you’ll become fond of that person. You start to see things in a whole new meaning. In the recent film Moving McAllister, Rick Robinson (Ben Gourley), through his road trip, finds love and life, which are more important than his ambition.

In the 1988 comedy film Midnight Run, Robert De Niro’s character’s supposed to get his bounty hunter reward money for bringing in Charles Grodin’s character from New York to LA, but along the way they get to know each other and build a strange friendship that will defy both the FBI and mafia.

3). Party on!
Of course we cannot run from the fact that road trip can be a whole lot of fun, especially when you go in groups. It’s about going out there and having a blast by seeing places you don’t normally visit and doing things that you’ll never have to tell anybody about. It’s all for the bragging rights of been there, done that! Wild Hogs in my opinion is one of this year’s funniest movies. Sure it has four has-beens that each one can’t even hold box office as leading actors anymore. But together, taking on the road gives them a chance to be bad again. I didn’t like the comedy film Road Trip, but it is still a good example of a bunch of young kids using road trip to make the best time of their lives. There are many road trip movies I can mention that would fall under this category: Harold & Kumar, Eurotrip, and who can forget eccentric Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas!

4). Learning Experience
Sometimes you go on a road trip just to take the chance to be free and others go on a road trip because they have some plan to accomplish at the end of the journey. Here’s the interesting part, some of them end up in a learning experience that would take them to newfound appreciation for the past, present, and future. Many people thought Jack Nicholson’s movie About Schmidt was boring, but this road trip movie is about a man who’s too focused on wanting to run his daughter’s life that he forgets to remember how he has wasted his. Taking Borat as an example may sound ridiculous to you but if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know that after going through so much, he realized that his true love was in front of him all along and was not in the form of Pamela Anderson.

5). Soul Searching (Know Thyself)
I used to hate those famous wise words ‘Know Thyself’ because for a long time I did not know what I wanted, much less about who I really was as a human being on this earth. Road trips have given me time to think and consider many options. They’ve given many of us the time to find ourselves, to finally know our dreams and goals. My favorite road trip movie is arguably Forrest Gump. Some of you might find this confusing because there are other road trip movies out there that I could’ve picked as candidates for the cream of the crop like Easy Rider or Thelma and Louise, but my favorite road trip movie of all time is Forrest Gump. He ran from coast to coast across the country, back and forth, and all the while he was doing that, he became even more and more certain that his love for Jenny will never fade away. He even said to Jenny on her deathbed that she was with him throughout his road trip, in heart and mind.

I usually don’t want to end my article with mushy stuff like that, but like my friend once said, “If you already know what you really want in life, then never settle for less.”

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