8 memorable road trip movies (Part 1)

Flicks that make you want to drive
by Dinzo Tabamo | Mar 24, 2010

Now that the election season is officially underway, itÂ’s best to ignore all the campaign advertising and start enjoying the summer. Most of the campaign advertisements only good for amusement anyway, so seeing them once is enough. Over time, it ceases to be funny, too. IÂ’m sure most of you know by now who youÂ’re going to vote for.

Of course, one of the best ways to enjoy summer is to go on a road trip (see the March issue of Top Gear Philippines magazine for our Road Trip Survival Guide). Most people see the road only as a means to an end, as a way of traveling from point A to B. This is also how many see cars, as tools and appliances to make life easier for them.

To a certain extent this is true. But roads and cars are also means to escape the routine of our lives. When you do something day in and day out, thereÂ’s a good chance what youÂ’re doing will devolve into drudgery. There has to be something to break the monotony of driving the same route every day, talking to the same people, eating the same food, seeing the same places, and thinking the same thoughts.

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Travel is one way to break this monotony and do something that will broaden our horizons. And road trips are one of the best ways to travel. Yes, ocean cruises and international flights are more glamorous and cover more distance. But in terms of sensory rewards, theyÂ’re limited. With a road trip you can stop by the roadside and enjoy a serene spot, or take a detour and see what lies on a certain b-road.

On a road trip you have to look for certain moments. It varies from person to person. For me it’s afternoons when the sky frames everything you see with an autumn glow, it’s driving along countryside roads with rice paddies on either side, it’s playing “I Am The Highway” on the expressway as the trees whiz by in a blur, it’s the quiet evenings when the moonlight guides you home and the serenity calms your mind like a shiatsu massage for the brain, and it’s the grin you can’t wipe off your face after you and your friends had an unforgettable weekend.

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Some of my favorite road trip moments also come from cinema. Whether itÂ’s just one special scene or the whole movie, these films have added to my database of golden road trip memories. ItÂ’s an eclectic mix, as most personal lists are.

In order of importance, here are the films that will inspire you to find your own road trip moments.

8. Tommy Boy (1995) – Tommy Callahan III (Chris Farley) goes on a road trip with his late father’s assistant, Richard Hayden (David Spade), to get clients and save his family’s auto parts business.

The most memorable scene is when Tommy and Richard are changing channels on the radio, then the song “Superstar” by the Carpenters plays. They pause, look at each other with an expression that they both like the song, but are ashamed to admit it. In the next scene they are singing along to Superstar with everything they’ve got, bawling their eyes out in the process.

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Lesson: In road trips, do what you want, the word baduy doesnÂ’t exist.


7. Bubble Boy (2001) – The Bubble Boy here is Jimmy Livingston (Jake Gyllenhaal), a boy born without an immune system. This forced him to live in a bubble for all of his life. Bubble Boy meets girl, Chloe (Marley Shelton), falls in love, loses love, then leaves home and goes on a road trip to win his girl back.

The ending of the movie is predictable, but the charm of this movie is the characters Jimmy meets along the way: a gang of bikers, a group of circus freaks led by a midget named Dr. Phreak (Verne Troyer), a cult of people who overdosed on happiness, an Indian ice cream man, and his own overprotective parents who are hot on his trail.


Lesson: Be open to meeting some weirdos on a trip, they may be helpful in the long run.

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6. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) – Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are roommates who perpetually get stoned. One night while under the influence of their favorite narcotic, they see an ad for White Castle hamburgers and develop a craving for the said hamburgers.

ItÂ’s a simple midnight snack run with misadventures along the way. This includes a meeting with Doogie Howser himself, Neil Patrick Harris, playing a parody of Neil Patrick Harris. The movie is carried by the convincing performances of Cho and Penn, who remind us of the simple joy and reward of going after that one thing we crave for.

I like this movie because the earliest road trips I remember are the simple trips to Shell Select at midnight for siomai and hotdog sandwiches with my best bud Paulo (sober and lucid, of course). This was before the time of call centers and fast food places extending their operating times to 24 hours.

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Lesson: If you want something, donÂ’t think of the distance and the drive, just go for it.


5. Fanboys (2009) – Set in 1998, a group of high school friends who are all big Star Wars fans, take a trip to Skywalker Ranch in California. Their purpose is to break in and steal a rough cut of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Their trip is given added gravity by the discovery that one of their friends has cancer, and he will not live to see the public screening of SW: Episode 1.

I like this movie because IÂ’m also a big Star Wars fan (literally). I went to the special midnight screening of Episode 1 in Glorietta in 1999 just to see the movie ASAP. It wasnÂ’t far from where I lived then, but I would have taken a road trip to see the movie if I had to. Of course, if I knew that George Lucas was going to spring Jar Jar Binks on us, I might have waited for the regular day screening.

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IÂ’m also a big Star Trek fan. Yes, IÂ’m a bona fide science fiction geek. The idea of taking a road trip to see the next installment of Star Wars is a terrific idea, it appeals to both the traveler and the geek inside me.

Oh, and the lovely Kristin Bell also stars in this movie. ‘Nuff said.


Lesson: Follow what youÂ’re passionate about, no matter what people call you.

To read Dinzo\'s \"8 memorable road trip movies (Part 2),\" click here.

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