February 21, 2024

A road movie is best defined as it shows the journey taken by a character or group of characters. Those involved in the journey will travel a great distance to reach the destination, but usually the journey ends up being more important than the destination. Often beautiful scenery, lots of self-discovery, and character development will be preferred over plot, as road movies tend to be drama/adventure movies.

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All these things can be found in road movies, either formulaic or slightly more unconventional. Those that are more of a road movie can be very interesting, as the relaxed and relatively simple basic narrative structure of a road movie allows for unexpected genres, settings or emotions to be mixed up.


1 ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015)

Big Bang in Mad Max Fury Road - 2015

A fast-paced action film with a unique grim and dirty atmosphere, Mad Max: Fury Road long walk rejuvenate Mad Max blood-pumping and relentlessly spectacular series. It seems like a small group of rebellious women – plus a reluctant title character – take on a small army of car-obsessed fanatics through what is essentially a long chase sequence (with some moments of stillness) in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

It’s got more action than your standard road movie, but a lot of the movie is spent traveling somewhere, and there’s definitely a lot of driving involved. Additionally, the characters learn about each other as the film progresses, with Max and the other main character, Furiosa, developing an understanding by the end of the film, also showing a personal journey within the film.

2 ‘Dogma’ (1999)


Kevin Smith He’s best known for his straight comedies, but he’s had many films that branch out into unexpected genres and directions. The first – and perhaps the most famous – was from 1999 dogmaa comedy/fantasy/adventure film with an unusual take on an apocalyptic conflict between good and evil and angels and demons.

Long story short, many characters cross paths as they travel from Illinois to New Jersey, and many comedic situations arise from the chaos of it all. There is a little humor, commentary on religion and faith and Matt Damon He played a character named Loki almost two decades earlier (sort of) again Thor: Ragnarok.

3 ‘Wild Heart’ (1990)

Nicolas Cage in snakeskin jacket in Wild At Heart

Wild heart It takes the same premise as it did in 1967 Bonnie and Clyde, becoming more extreme, strange and unpredictable. A movie about young lovers on the run is about as rare as you’d expect when one of those lovers is cast. Nicolas Cage at its most intense, and the filmmaker behind it all is none other than him David Lynch.

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The film is basically two hours of Sailor (Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern) avoiding several bad characters sent by Lula’s mother to kill Sailor. Along the way, there are many nods to music and filmography Elvis Presley and enough The Wizard of Oz references to sometimes feel like a twisted remake of the 1939 classic. True to its title, it is undoubtedly one of the wildest road movies of all time.

4 ‘Badlands’ (1973)

Badlands - 1973
Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Terrence MalickThe filmography becomes more abstract as it goes on, in many ways, which is probably a good thing for some and maybe not so good for others. Not surprisingly, his first feature film, Badlandsit is perhaps his most direct, in terms of narrative, with two young lovers on the run from the law.

The stories are constantly moving, this drive and dangerous adventure gives it the feel of a road movie. It also has some of Malick’s trademarks, such as poetic voice-over narration and expertly captured natural vistas, that set it apart from the more typical “Runaway Lovers” type of film.

5 ‘Finding Nemo’ (2003)

Finding Nemo - Marlin and Dory looking at each other
Image via Pixar

Despite being almost completely underwater and far from any roads, Finding Nemo it definitely works like a road movie. His story features a protective father who suddenly takes his only son from him, and he sets out on a long journey to get him back.

Along the way he makes friends, learns to be a better father and eventually reaches his destination and finds the titular Nemo. Its Dory-based sequel, Finding Doryit works like a road movie, but for what it’s worth, it has a scene where a group of fish manage to drive and drive a vehicle on the open road.

6 American Honey (2016)

Star in the car on a road trip in American Honey.

American Honey It is a very personal film with an epic length of 163 minutes. For such a long film, its premise is surprisingly simple. A teenage girl wants to escape the drudgery of her life, so she joins a group of rebellious youths who sell magazines by day and party by night, traveling all over the Midwest in the process.

It’s a film about living in the moment, arguing that self-discovery takes time, and that it would take aimlessness to aid that process. Its length and sprawling, sometimes unfocused nature makes it stand out from other road movies, though it’s undeniably appealing thanks to its cast, looks and soundtrack.

7 ‘Until the End of the World’ (1991)

Until the end of the world - 1991
Image via Village Roadshow Pictures

It is known as film It wants to be the “ultimate road movie”. Until the End of the World he definitely has a chance at that title. The first thing that stands out within the subgenre is its length, with the director’s cut clocking in at nearly five hours (and the less well-watched theatrical cut is still over 2.5 hours, for what it’s worth).

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It also features an international journey, with the main characters visiting numerous countries before arriving at their destination in outback Australia, where much of the second half of the film takes place. Few films are as diverse, as long, or as full of interesting and diverse locations Until the End of the World up there, the best and most daring road movies of all time.

8 Thelma and Louise (1991)

Thelma and Louise - 1991
Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Thelma and Louise It is one of the definitive road movies of American cinema. It centers around two women who go on the run after killing a man in self-defense, strengthening their bond with their journey together on the run from the law, as they each go through a sort of personal odyssey together.

Its crime/thriller aspects do not distinguish it too much from other road movies, as it is quite common to see the characters on the run. However, Thelma and Louise it is notable for having two female protagonists as characters on the run, a strong feminist film that pits two confident women against a misogynistic society.

9 ‘The Weekend’ (1967)

Weekend - 1967

However Jean-Luc Godard no stranger to weird movies, the weekend it still feels particularly strange. This dark satirical comedy from the French New Wave director presents a weekend trip that descends into chaos and violence, and indeed ends up feeling borderline apocalyptic at the end of the film.

the weekend You can’t fault its ambitions, as it deals with high political and social issues, has some very interesting creative decisions, and plenty of on-screen unpleasantness. It’s not a film for everyone, but those burned by more formulaic road movies will at least feel that this subgenre nightmare has a lot of unique things going for it.

10 ‘Who is singing there?’ (1980)

Who's singing there_ - 1980
Image via Centar Film

A Yugoslav drama set before the start of World War II, Who’s Singing There? it definitely feels like a breath of fresh air within the road movie subgenre. It follows a group of eccentric characters who must all share a cross-country bus trip, with various mishaps en route to Belgrade.

Knowing from the start that it’s set in 1941 creates a certain amount of tension, as those who know their history know that the invasion of Yugoslavia by German forces is imminent. It makes for a film with an unusual tone, but in the end it works quite well, sometimes funny and heavy at others.

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