The 5 Rules of Road Trip Movies
From “National Lampoon’s Vacation” to “RV” the road trip movie is an often used theme for making movies and it’s not a new thing either because go back to 1953 and Britain gave us a take on the road trip movie with the amusing “Genevieve”. But the thing is about road trip movies is that they have a set of rules, a set of elements and scenes which are almost standard in every single one which makes every single road trip movie very similar to another one. As such here are the 5 rules of road trip movies:
Rule #1 – Never take your Normal Car
It has to be said that this is not a hard and fast rule but most road trip movies start out with the getting of a vehicle specifically for that road trip. Form Clark Griswold getting the ugly metallic pea-green station wagon in “National Lampoon’s Vacation” through to Robin Williams as Bob Munro in “RV” picking up the equally hideous “Big Rolling Turd” as it is affectionately known, a new vehicle is a must. And as you can guess the uglier the better allowing the screen writers to make various jokes about the ugliness of the vehicle.
Of course it doesn’t have to be a new vehicle and “Genevieve” is an exception to the rule as Alan McKim takes his classic 1904 Darracq on the road, but again it is most certainly not your everyday car.
Rule #2 – Friends, Family and Feuding
A road trip movie is not a road trip movie unless there’s a group of people in the car and it doesn’t matter whether its family or a group of friends, there just has to be more than one. The important thing is that stuck in a vehicle for hours on end will lead to arguments over everything and anything. From the choice of music and often singing, reckless driving or smelly feet the enclosed space of a vehicle will lead to stress levels rising.
Rule #3 – Breakdowns and Trouble
Of course a road trip movie by its sheer nature means there will be car trouble, often caused because they’re not in their normal car. Be it a flat tyre, unable to fit the waste extractor to your RV or just the engine conking out something has to happen. Sometimes it can be a simple but not too quick roadside repair otherwise it will mean being towed to a back water garage where they can’t get the part and will no doubt charge a fortune once they’ve done the work. Of course it doesn’t really matter what the car trouble is because the whole point of them is to cause more stress, more arguments and often a moment of slapstick when someone who knows nothing about vehicles tries to fix things.
Plus you can’t just have one episode of car trouble in a road trip movie you have to have numerous so by the time things are coming to an end that beautiful new car looks like a wreck barely road worthy as it chugs along the road. In extreme circumstances the vehicle can be swapped which often means either getting an even more dilapidated vehicle from a garage or stealing something like a school bus.
Rule #4 – The Overnight Stay
The next rule is almost a dead cert in any road trip movie because whether it’s planned or not there has to be an overnight stay and it’s rarely in anything other than a run down motel. So if the troubles on the road weren’t bad enough the accommodation just adds to the head ache with dirty rooms, dodgy beds, faulty plumbing and usually a weirdo running on the reception desk. Even if the plan is stayed and booked in advance it doesn’t guarantee that the accommodation will be any better and often ends up being even worse.
Of course if you have an RV you don’t need to book into a low down motel but that doesn’t mean you have anything more pleasant because you can bet the trailer park you stay out will deliver enough problems from weirdo’s and over friendly neighbours to make the trip a misery.
Rule #5 – The End of the Road
But no matter how many accidents that the plucky friends and family encounter on their road trip or how dilapidated their vehicle becomes they have to get to their destination. Arguments are forgotten as the battle over adversity delivers some form of euphoria having finally gotten to the end of their uncomfortable marathon trek and although the destination may not be as great as hoped, poor Clark Griswold again, it’s the achievement which is important.
So there you have the 5 rules of road trip movies and if you’ve seen one you’ve probably seen them all.