Who doesn’t like road trip films? It provides an excellent premise for many genres, including horror, comedy, and crime-thriller. With this list of 20 Best Road Trip Movies, you can enjoy a slew of films within the genre.
1. Rain Man (1988)
English 2h 13m IMDb
Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
Rain Man by Barry Levenson takes on a friendship and understanding between two unknown brothers. Starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, you know you are in for a moving and tear-jerking performance. This Oscar-winning feature film will surely make for an entertaining and inspirational tale.
Charles ‘Charlie’ Babbit is a New York-based hustler with a chaotic life. At the death of his estranged father, Charlie is left with little to no inheritance. With the knowledge that his father’s money is set to go to his unknown brother, Charlie takes on a cross-country road trip of a lifetime.
2. The Straight Story (1999)
English 1h 52m IMDb
Director: David Lynch
Stars: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Jane Galloway Heitz
The Straight Story features a moving tale about life and family. Unlike any other road trip story, the protagonist of this film doesn’t take a van or car for his journey. Instead, he takes on his lawnmower out for a drive.
Alvin must take on a journey to mend ties with his brother with ailing health and a brother on his deathbed. Due to being 73 years old and having bad eyesight, he can’t take on a car to make his trip. With an ingenious idea, Alvin takes on his old, trusty lawnmower to take his journey from Iowa to Wisconsin.
3. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
English 1h 41m IMDb
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Stars: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear
Little Miss Sunshine hints at a dark yet comedic film. With a band of dysfunctional family members residing in Albuquerque, they take on the task of joining a pageant miles away. Riding their Volkswagen Type 2, the family learns to appreciate their weird yet familial solid bond.
This film by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris is not for people who dislike darker comedies. Yet, it is an excellent feature film with many awards, accolades, and critical reviews. Let the Hoover family take you on a fun family trip as they attempt to reach Redondo Beach, California.
4. Nebraska (2013)
English 1h 55m IMDb
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb
Dramatic and moving, Nebraska takes on the story of an estranged father-son as they travel from Montana to Nebraska.
It serves an excellent visual style courtesy of Director Alexander Payne, offering extraordinary filmography regarding drama and conflict. Like many classics from Payne, Nebraska features a subtle comedic tone and direct matches.
With a strange relationship, father and son, Doody and David Grant take on the journey of taking a road trip to the father’s hometown. They set out on the mission of claiming a sweepstake win, meanwhile starting to understand and confront their damaged familial bond.
5. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
English 1h 47m IMDb
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen(uncredited)
Stars: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson
Set in the 1930s Mississippi, three prisoners set on a hitchhiking trip to gather loot and treasures. Running away from the law, the three must reach Ulysses Everett McGill’s home and start the hunt. With law enforcement officers hot on their track, they must take on the challenges that will block their way.
O Brother, Where Art Thou features a fun and quirky set of weird characters. It takes on a very comedic tone with a hint of weirdness due to its premise. Its soundtrack also won various awards and even higher records than the film.
6. The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)
English 1h 54m IMDb
Director: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe(co-director)
Stars: Abbi Jacobson(voice), Danny McBride(voice), Maya Rudolph(voice)
Relatively new on the list, this animated feature film by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe will make you grab onto the edge of your seat. If you want a fun and entertaining family film from the road trip sub-genre, The Mitchells vs. the Machines should be on your list.
The film revolves around the family’s road trip from home to Katie Mitchell’s film school. As the family takes on their not awkward journey, a more significant mishap is awaiting them along the way; a robot invasion. In the face of destruction, they must help each other to survive.
7. Zombieland (2009)
English 1h 28m IMDb
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson
A road trip field with the horrors of a zombie invasion, Zombieland features a thrilling and action-packed adventure. With a band of hardened zombie survivors, they take on the mission to travel across America.
Like any zombie flick, Zombieland is oozing with blood, gore, and violence. If you can’t stomach these features, you will not have a good time watching Zombieland. It adds a high-stakes, gory, and heart-racing action to the road trip subgenre.
8. Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
English 1h 33m IMDb
Director: John Hughes
Stars: Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins
Another classic from John Hughes, this fun family film will take you on a fantastic journey about friendship and family. Even not in the holiday season, you can enjoy this heartwarming and fun flick with the family. It’s a perfect Thanksgiving film to enjoy.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles revolve around Neal Page as he takes an impossible trip across the country. With a canceled flight at hand, Neal deems it impossible to get into his home at Thanksgiving. Fortunately, a friendly and talkative help will come to his aid.
9. Sideways (2004)
English 2h 7m IMDb
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen
Sideways is another Alexander Payne classic dealing with life and its problems. The story revolves around Miles and Jack, two middle-aged best friends without much going on for themselves. As Jack is getting married, the two decide to take a wine-sipping trip across California to unwind and have fun.
The two got more than they were thinking, leading to chaos and wounded relationships. The friendship starts to crack, and the relationship between Jack and Miles. This unique and intriguing film will lead you to many dramatic and moving moments.
10. Thelma & Louise (1991)
English 2h 10m IMDb
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel
Thelma and Louise’s supposedly road trip turns into a flight from the police. The two live a chaotic life due to their husbands, and their journey to get away becomes an escape. They must go to Mexico on the road trip of their lifetime.
This film is heralded ahead of its time as films like this are relatively new in the 90s. It boasts countless awards, including an Oscar and numerous accolades. With a side of social commentary and empowerment, the film received excellent reviews from many critics.
11. Midnight Run (1988)
English 2h 6m IMDb
Director: Martin Brest
Stars: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto
This cross-country journey is filled with excellent scenes, heart-pounding stakes, action, crime, and comedy-thriller. With the unlikely partnership between two bounty hunters set off the search for the mysterious criminal, Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas. With $100,000 on the stakes, they must find a way to hunt down The Duke.
Starring Robert De Niro, Charles Gordan, and John Ashton, you know you are set for a thrilling film. It’s an excellent buddy film with a unique story and stunning filmography. If you are in for an old-schools flick, you should check out Midnight Run.
12. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
English 1h 24m IMDb
Director: Larry Charles
Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian, Luenell
Hilarious with a side of commentary, this documentary parody starring and by Sacha Baron Cohen will surely make you laugh out loud. It deals with the social issues of American society with a hilarious premise and performance from the cast.
The film revolves around Borat Sagdiye, a famous public figure from Kazakhstan, as he takes on a journey to America and the city of New York. Upon his misadventures, he stumbles on CJ Parker, played by Pamela Anderson, and sets on to making her his wife. He travels from New York to Malibu, California, to search for a wife.
13. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
English 1h 47m IMDb
Director: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly(uncredited)
Stars: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly
Dumb and Dumber might be one of the comedy road trip classics. You know you are in for a fun and entertaining ride with hilarious performances from Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.
The film revolves around the cross-country journey of Lloyd and Harry, two unwitting bands of misfits. After a mysterious woman named Mary Swanson leaves her briefcase full of money, the two take on the adventure of their life. Their journey from Providence to Aspen reveals that the suitcase might be the least of their problems.
14. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
English 1h 38m IMDb
Director: Harold Ramis
Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Imogene Coca
Clark Griswold takes on the journey to take his wife, Ellen, and their two children, Rusty and Audrey, to the Walley World Amusement Park. Their supposed family trip takes on unprecedented chaos from suburban Chicago to the sunny California days. With new characters along for the ride, Clark has more than he could take.
This movie is an incredible must-watch if you love a comedic and fun family adventure. It offers a hilarious performance from excellent actors such as Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo.
15. About Schmidt (2002)
English 2h 5m IMDb
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney
About Schmidt is another road trip flick by Alexander Payne. With a dramatic outlook on life and old age, the movie takes on Warren Schmidt’s self-discovery journey. As he travels from Nebraska to Colorado for his estranged daughter’s wedding, he starts to look hard on his life in the face of retirement.
The film deals with the outlook on life through the eyes of a pretty morally gray character. The performance of Jack Nicholson as the title character provides a subtle yet charming tone to Schmidt’s persona. As his life starts to be shown, you can see how far he has come.
16. Broken Flowers (2005)
English 1h 46m IMDb
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Bill Murray, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone
Broken Flowers revolves around the cross-country journey of Don Johnston. Aloof and lonely, Don takes on another time alone as his latest lover, Sherry, dumped him. Brokenhearted, he decided to get into his old devices until an anonymous letter got into his hand.
Critics herald Bill Murray’s performance in this film. With his solemn with a hint of comedy line and tone, the film is elevated into this slow journey of self-discovery. It’s not just a fun road trip movie; it also offers many philosophical outlooks on the past, present, and future.
17. Tommy Boy (1995)
English 1h 37m IMDb
Director: Peter Segal
Stars: Chris Farley, David Spade, Brian Dennehy
Tommy Boy features the hilarious performance of Chris Farley and David Spade along with the direction of Peter Segal.
With a dim-witted and clumsy, Tommy Callahan Jr. goes on the road to try and save his late father’s auto part business. However, Tommy has a chance to save his father’s hard work by teaming up with the snide accountant, Richard.
The journey of Tommy throughout the film features an excellent and hilarious unlikely friendship between the two. With their fun and quirky partnership, a company starts to blossom as they set on the road trip.
18. We’re the Millers (2013)
English 1h 50m IMDb
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts
Funny with its dramatic moments, We’re the Millers sets on to deliver an essential package: pot. The band of misfit characters gets on a journey of familial love on a comedy-filled cross-country trip. Unapologetically crude, it’s an excellent adult film that can entertain anyone who loves crass humor.
The film revolves around David and his mission to cross the borders of Mexico. Due to his illegal activities, he hires a stripper, and two local teenagers take on a mission of being a pretend family.
19. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
English 1h 28m IMDb
Director: Danny Leiner
Stars: John Cho, Kal Penn, Ethan Embry
Two stoners, Kumar Patel and Harold Lee decided to go into a White Castle while high off their socks. With a hazy mind, they set on a road trip journey to taste the White Castle burgers, leading to a goofy adventure. Many characters, including a racist officer, a raccoon, and Neil Patrick Harris, come after them.
You will not get into this movie if you don’t like crude and stoner humor. It has a crass way of saying jokes and borders on dark comedy. However, give it a watch if it sounds like your cup of tea.
20. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
English 1h 31m IMDb
Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton
This road trip journey is as wacky as you can get. It stars Paul Rubens as the title character, leading to a very entertaining and excellent performance. If you love a hilarious, funny, and relatively nonsensical film (in a good way), this film must go on your watch list.
The film follows the man-child Pee-wee Herman as he tries to recover the bike from his nemesis, Francis Buxton. Pee-wee must travel across America on an obsessive hunt to get his beloved bicycle back.
With these 20 Best Road Trips, you have many genres that could last you a marathon. So, what are you waiting for? Grab some popcorn, start the marathon, and unwind.