Tag Archives: movies

Best Movies About the Great Outdoors

We’re almost reaching the end of the summer. It’s one of the best times of the year to enjoy the outdoors while also preparing for the coming colder months. What better way is there to relax and also be reminded of the beauty of nature then to kick back with some of these classic movies about the great outdoors? Here’s our pick of the best movies about the wilderness, complete with the good, the bad, and the ugly:

Walkabout, 1971

Image Credit: https://www.lewiswaynegallery.com/walkabout-1971-lobby-cards-7-jenny-agutter-p-11755.html

Image Credit: https://www.lewiswaynegallery.com/walkabout-1971-lobby-cards-7-jenny-agutter-p-11755.html

Walkabout contrasts mainstream, air-conditioned Australian society with the isolation and beauty of the Australian outback. Well-known and popular in Australia, the movie tells the story of a teenage schoolgirl and her brother stranded in the wilderness and then meeting an Aboriginal boy. The unlikely trio soon become friends and start living off the land together. Unfortunately, their paradise is short-lived. Cosmopolitan life soon very forcibly breaks apart the new friends, and their experience and connection with nature seems like a dream.

Badlands, 1973

Image Credit: http://1001movieman.blogspot.com/2014/07/560-badlands-1973.html

Image Credit: http://1001movieman.blogspot.com/2014/07/560-badlands-1973.html

For outdoor and road tripping enthusiasts who love the American landscape and have always wanted to drive cross-country, Badlands is the movie for you. This classic follows the relationship between a 25-year-old former garbage man, now full-time criminal with a 15-year-old whose hobby is baton twirling. As their literal journey unfolds through prairies, small towns, forests, and plains, the charms of rural America and the clear, expansive sky are on display. Think of Badlands as possibly one of the best travelogue-crime love stories you may ever watch.

The Last Wave, 1977

Image Credit: http://movieretrospect.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-last-wave-mystical-thriller-about.html

Image Credit: http://movieretrospect.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-last-wave-mystical-thriller-about.html

This is another Australian movie, but this time about nature as a dangerous and mysterious force in Australia. In fact, the Aboriginals and lawyer connected by their intuitive powers sense that civilization as Australia knows it, is about to be purged and rebuilt through a big natural disaster—hence, “the last wave.” Nature is the overriding and unstoppable force throughout the movie, pounding Australian cities and outlying territories with relentless rain, and disrupting modern lives and routines.

Deliverance, 1972

Image Credit: http://hawkensian.com/2014/09/26/deliverance-1972/

Image Credit: http://hawkensian.com/2014/09/26/deliverance-1972/

Deliverance is an American favorite because of its story of drama and danger amidst the Georgian wilderness. Four Atlanta businessmen intend to explore an idyllic river valley, but their trip turns into a nightmare after encountering gun-toting and sadistic hillbillies. Views of the river, gorges, and small town during overcast weather contribute to the movie’s gloomy and suspenseful atmosphere. While the thriller isn’t exactly a walk in the park, it may definitely get your heart racing.

Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1975

Image Credit: http://nymphalie.blogspot.com/2015/06/picnic-at-hanging-rock-1975.html

Image Credit: http://nymphalie.blogspot.com/2015/06/picnic-at-hanging-rock-1975.html

Picnic at Hanging Rock showcases scenic Australia, with the movie centered around a group of schoolgirls and their teachers’ picnic to Hanging Rock, a distinctive geological formation in Central Victoria. As the students explore the Hanging Rock and the surrounding area, eventually one member becomes abandoned, and cause the remaining members of the party to panic. The sunny weather and apparent peacefulness of the scene only adds mystery to the disappearance.

Many movies feature nature prominently. Hopefully, these movies spur you to experience the outdoors yourself, and be sure to download our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps beforehand to make your adventure that much more comfortable.

4 State Parks Where Famous Science Fiction Movies Were Filmed

A scene from Total Recall (1990), filmed at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.                                         [Image: www.futuredude.com]

An alien landscape on the big screen: something about it seems familiar and earthbound, yet something informs you that this is an alien world that exists light years away. On the other hand, a lower budget for science fiction movies or TV shows that does not allow for fantastic location shots can make it harder to suspend disbelief and use your imagination to transform a rock quarry or very mundane rock formation into a planet full of lizard people. This is not the case with the following fantastic state parks where many notable scenes from science fiction movies were filmed!

Goblin Valley State Park

Image: media-cdn.tripadvisor.com

This awesomely named park located in the San Rafael Desert of Utah is notable for the thousands of mushroom-shaped hoodoo rocks that can be found there. You might remember this park when we told you to go there for our 4 State Parks to Visit at Halloween article! Here it is again, because it’s that cool.

When viewed from afar, the landscape of Goblin Valley very much resembles a place where you might find a goblin village. It’s this quality that led to the 1999 Star Trek parody Galaxy Quest to be filmed there. The famous mushroom-shaped rock landscape can be seen for an extended sequence in the movie during the mission that the crew undertakes to find fuel for their damaged ship on an unnamed alien world. They encounter many bizarre creatures, and Tim Allen’s Captain Jason Nesmith even battles a giant composed entirely of the famous hoodoo rocks!

Galaxy Quest (1999)                                                                         [Image: www.roberthood.net]

Valley of Fire State Park

Image: www.inetours.com

Another park that has an amazing name is Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. This is the oldest state park in Nevada and is named for the beautiful red sandstone formations found on its 42,000 acres. Some of the dunes and eroded sandstone formations date back 150 million years. Due to the uniqueness and brilliant red of the formations, Valley of Fire stood in for Mars in the exterior shots of the 1990 Arnold Schwartzenegger science fiction blockbuster Total Recall. Scenes from 2007’s Transformers were also shot here.

This beautiful and barren location was also where Captain James T. Kirk met his demise in 1994’s Star Trek Generations. Standing in for the fictional planet Veridian III in the movie, prominent real-life landmarks like Lake Mead can be seen in the background as Captains Kirk and Picard (William Shatner and Patrick Stewart) save the universe from Malcolm Mcdowell’s villain Soran.

Star Trek Generations (1994)                                                                                                                                           [Image: basementrejects.com]

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Image: inyo.coffeecup.com

A beautiful park in Southern California, Redwood Canyon State Park features many unique and tributary canyons that are naturally painted multiple colors. These magnificent geological features and its close proximity to Los Angeles have made it an ideal filming location. Numerous movies and TV shows have been filmed here, dating all the way back to The Mummy in 1932. Since there are already multiple paleontology dig sites on the grounds, filming the dig scenes from the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park there was an easy choice.

Another popular science fiction movie filmed here was Westworld. Written and directed by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton, this 1973 movie is also about a theme park. This park also promises fantastic thrills and unheard of excitement for its guests, except instead of dinosaurs it’s androids dressed as people from Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, and the Old West. Much like in Jurassic Park, things go horribly wrong and the attractions start killing the guests. Many of the Old West scenes featuring Yul Brynner’s rogue Gunslinger android were shot at Red Rock Canyon.

Westworld (1973)                                                                                                                                                                                                       [Image: half canyon.files.wordpress.com]

Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park

Image: www.inn-california.com

Now we’ll switch it up from the more barren environments of the previous entries and take a look at the secluded green forests of Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County, California. It is among the virgin redwoods of this park where Luke and Leia (Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher) evaded Imperial Forces on speeder bikes in the classic high-speed chase scene from Return of the Jedi (1983). A number of the other Endor scenes were also filmed here. While many other California state parks were used for filming the legendary film trilogy, it can’t be argued that this park, standing in for the forest moon of Endor, provided some of the most memorable scenery and explosions.

Return of the Jedi (1983)                                                                                                                                                       [Image: oyster.ignimgs.com]

If you’d like to read up on more state parks where the original Star Wars trilogy was filmed as well as other famous movies check out our two previous articles on the subject here and here.

Outdoor Adventures: 4 Great Camp Movies

No, not that kind of camp. We’re talking about tent, compass and hiking camping. Here’s a list of 4 great camping and outdoor films from the past 30 years.



Image: www.nzfilmfreak.wordpress.com

The Blair Witch Project

Perhaps the most infamous camping movie, The Blair Witch Project was a small independent film released in 1999 with a $22,000 budget. A strong promotional campaign coupled with rumors of being a true story catapulted the film into a major box office success, earning a massive $248 million.

The film follows three film students, Heather, Joshua and Michael, as they venture in to the woods of Maryland in the quest to find the Blair Witch, a local urban legend. This turns into two-day horrifying hike, which ends tragically for all three. The backdrop of the forest and the hand-held camera really puts viewers on a horrific camping journey.

(Image: bibliojunkie.wordpress.com)

Image: bibliojunkie.wordpress.com

Into the Wild

Into the Wild is a 2007 big-screen adaption of the book of the same name. The film is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, an Emory University graduate who left his privileged life behind to live in the wilderness of Alaska. McCandless encounters an array of colorful characters along the way, most notably Ron Franz, played by Hal Holbrook, who received an Oscar nomination for his role.

In the movie, McCandless, played by Emile Hirsch, encounters dangerous animals, harsh weather conditions and famine in his quest of independence and self-analysis. Without any resources, McCandless is left up to his own devices to survive. He learns to hunt and fish, but it isn’t enough to save him from the poisonous berries, which eventually took his life.



The Edge

Released in 1997, The Edge, starring Anthony Hopkins Harold Perrineau and Alec Baldwin, is about three men who become stranded in the wilderness when their plane crash lands. The men try and hike back to civilization, but find out they are being stalked by a Kodiak bear. The bear then kills Perrineau’s character. Although not an experienced outdoorsman, Hopkins’s character uses his encyclopedia survival knowledge to stay alive.

A search helicopter eventually finds the two after being stranded for some time, but it’s a little too late for Baldwin’s character, Bob.



Stand by Me

Stand by Me is the tale of four friends on a quest to find a dead body, but soon realize the meaning of friendship and survival.

Released in 1986, Stand by Me has become an American cinematic classic. The movie follows Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern as they venture from the fictional Castle Rock, Oregon down train tracks to an adventure of a lifetime. Along the way, the boys have run-ins with a scary junkyard dog, are almost killed by a train and encounter leeches in one memorable scene.

Top 5 Survival Experts

Whether he’s figuring out how to build a fire in the Alaskan tundra or finding his way through the mean streets of Manhattan, the survival expert always seems to get by in a tough spot. When the going gets tough, the survival expert gets resourceful. A grizzly bear sniffing around his campsite? He’s got it covered. Russian spies on his tail? No problem. Stuck in a bathroom stall without any toilet paper? He’s not panicking.

In this post, we’re listing the Top 5 Survival Experts of All Time to inspire you the next time you’re out there roughing it.

5. Crocodile Dundee

“You call that a knife? That’s not a knife. This is a knife! “ He fishes with dynamite, he wrestles crocodiles, and he carries a giant knife wherever he goes. Need we say more? Over the course of three movies, Crocodile Dundee (played by Aussie Paul Hogan) goes from the wild Australian Outback to the gritty alleyways of New York City and then to the seamy boulevards of Los Angeles. The settings seem to get progressively less threatening with each movie, but still Mick Dundee manages to get himself into sticky situations, such as figuring out how to use the bathroom in a posh Manhattan hotel room or mixing it up with street toughs in Los Angeles. With each encounter, Mick relies on his wits and down-to-earth Outback charm.

If you’re still not convinced of this Bushman’s prowess, did we mention he can hypnotize a water buffalo?




4. Les Stroud, a.k.a Survivorman

With a nickname like Survivorman, you know Les Stroud must be at least moderately capable of taking care of himself when the going gets tough. A Canadian filmmaker and survival expert, Stroud began filming his television show Survivorman in 2005 and the series lasted for three seasons. In each episode, Stroud places himself in a unique survival situation and films the whole ordeal in order to demonstrate the best techniques for survival. He goes over such necessities as how to construct a shelter, how to procure food, and how to build a fire.

Despite his ability to prepare for seemingly every worse case scenario, on July 16, 2007, during the filming of an episode of the show, the United States National Park service cited Stroud and his crew for commercial videotaping without a permit at Kenai Fjords National Park. So, let this be a lesson to all you would-be Survivormen: you may be able to take down a grizzly bear with your bare hands, but don’t mess with the National Park Service.



3. Bear Grylls, a.k.a. the Man in “Man vs. Wild”

Here’s a survival expert who’s so confident in his abilities that he’s decided to take on all of nature by himself. Going against the stereotype of British men as refined gentlemen more at ease discussing history and literature in manor parlors than going out and roughing it, Bear Grylls has taken on the Alaskan Mountain Range, the Moab Desert, and the jungles of Borneo, just to name a few of the locales he’s traveled to in his television show “Man vs. Wild.”

Over the course of the show’s seven seasons, Grylls has eaten whole food chains of creatures in the name of survival. A quick search for “Bear Grylls eats” on YouTube will provide ample results. Here’s one of our personal favorites: Bear Grylls Eats Giant Larva. Enjoy!


Score: Man 1, Wild 0.

2. MacGyver

You’ve heard the jokes: he can diffuse a bomb with a tic-tac or make a parachute out of a kleenex. But don’t let the internet memes and punch lines overshadow the fact that MacGyver was one incredibly resourceful guy. In one episode, MacGyver patches up a leak in his radiator by cracking an egg on top of it. Forget AAA, get me MacGyver! In another episode, he uses a gum wrapper as a fishing lure. What the heck! Genius! And in another episode, he makes shoes out of duct tape and a plastic mat! Well, that one isn’t so impressive. But you get the idea. If there’s any small everyday household item lying around, MacGyver will find a way.



1. Odysseus

Before you scoff at this one, you might want to consider for a moment that Odysseus of Ithaca, also known as Ulysses, is really the original Survivorman. Before Bear Grylls showed us that bat guano can be a viable source of protein and before Les Stroud showed us how to fashion a toilet from a hollowed out log, Odysseus set off from the battlefields of Troy back to his home island of Ithaca after spending a decade fighting for the Greeks in the Trojan War. Wanting only to return home to his wife Penelope and his now-grown son Telemachus, Odysseus endures a series of trials and tribulations so legendary that we get the word ‘odyssey’ from his name. He escapes an island where he is being held captive by a nymph named Calypso. He manages to survive a run in with the six-headed monster Scylla. Then, through his cunning and guile, he avoids getting eaten by a giant cyclops named Polyphemus. At one point, he even travels to the land of the dead and back. In the end, after nearly a decade of persistence, Odysseus washes up on the shores of Ithaca and vanquishes the would-be suitors from his home, reclaiming once and for all the family and life he left behind. Now, that’s what I call a survival expert.



Image: www.wikipedia.org


5 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Filmed at State Parks

Have you ever watched a movie and wondered where it was filmed? We did some research and found that parts of your favorite movies were actually filmed in some of America’s beautiful state parks. Take a look:

Romancing the Stone, 1984

  • Snow Canyon State Park, Utah
  • Starring: Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner

Plot: Turner’s character, Joan Wilder, ventures to Columbia to rescue her kidnapped sister. En route, Turner finds herself entangled in a crazy adventure.



Thelma & Louise, 1991

  • Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park
  • Starring: Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon

Plot: Two friends set out on a vacation from Oklahoma to Mexico that turns for the worse when a man tries to take advantage of Thelma. Louise shoots and kills him, sending the two on a manhunt that ends tragically in the Grand Canyon.

Image: drafthouse.com

Image: drafthouse.com

Pet Sematary, 1989

  • Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Starring: No one you would know

Plot: A cemetery known for bringing the undead to back life didn’t stop one father from burying his son in the doomed “Indian burial ground.” When he does, bloody chaos ensues.

Image: www.ifc.com

Image: www.ifc.com

Dances With Wolves, 1989

  • Badlands National Park, South Dakota
  • Starring: Kevin Costner and Mary McDonnell

Plot: Starred and directed by Kevin Costner, Lt. Dunbar befriends a Native American tribe, ultimately becoming one of them.

Image: Salon.com

Image: Salon.com

Dennis the Menace, 1993

  • Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, Illinois
  • Starring: Walter Mattau, Mason Gamble and Joan Plowright and Christopher Lloyd. Can’t go wrong with that!

Plot: Dennis is a really big menace, especially to his neighbor, Walter Matthau.

Image: allmovie.com

Image: allmovie.com


Outdoor Adore: Magical Movies That Satisfy Our Thirst for Adventure

In the mind of a true outdoorsman, wilderness rhymes with adventure. Not knowing why lies ahead is not only preferred, but it is what keeps him or her going, lacing those boots each and every morning; marching to a personal drumbeat, which may sound like a babbling brook, a cascading waterfall, a twittering bird, or the sound of one’s own feet slapping the pavement. A true outdoorsman can easily be taken out of nature, but it is with much less ease that this thirst for thrill and adventure can be taken out of him or her. Not all of us may be free agents, able to take off into the woods at a moments notice, at least not physically, which is why we rely on our active imaginations and those of Hollywood producers to access adventure from our cubicles, classrooms, or living rooms.

The great outdoors has forever been a favorite backdrop for adventure, whether it is that of the seemingly quiet woods of a small Oregon town, or the war-torn continent of Middle-Earth, the element of the unknown is what makes a couple of kids (or hobbits) walking through a forest so exciting. Here we have a round-up of our favorite adventure films or scenes that fuel our minds on days when the closest thing to the great outdoors we get is the potted plant on our co-worker’s desk.

Stand By Me (1986)


What better place to bond with your buds than around a roaring campfire? Just go easy on the swearing, please! [Image: ww.clarku.edu]

We’re pretty sure the term “coming-of-age” was coined for this short story turned film…okay, so probably not, but even we found ourselves forever changed by the movie’s end. For those unfamiliar with this cult classic, a motley group of preteen venture through the wilderness of Castle Rock, Oregon in order to see their very first dead body. Along their way the boys encounter a vicious junkyard dog, blood thirsty leeches, and a local gang of thugs led by Ace Merrill, played by a young Keifer Sutherland. While all the hi-jinx and storytelling that takes place throughout the film is certainly entertaining, it’s the self discovery and bonding that makes the adventure one of epic proportions.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

We're curious to see how this scene would've played out had Sam brought his Pocket Ranger® loaded iPhone. [image: www.sojo.net]

We’re curious to see how this scene would’ve played out had Sam brought his Pocket Ranger® loaded iPhone. [Image: www.sojo.net]

Who hasn’t fantasized about running away from home, snubbing the authorities, and living out of a rucksack, all with your sweetie in tow? Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom has it all: romance, action, adventure—homemade beetle earrings, all done in the modest yet undeniably cool way the director is famous for. While eventually the authorities (and mom and pop) bust up Sam and Suzy’s romantic lakeside campsite, the dreamer and adventurer inside them both never dies.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)


“Hey Frodo, can you believe we climbed this mountain without any repelling gear?” [image: www.fanpop.com]

I don’t think we could, in good conscience, write about adventure and epic journeys through the wild and unknown, without giving at least a nod The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings franchise. Beaming adventure from every corner of Middle-Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels and Peter Jackson’s films bring out the adventurer in everyone, from the stubborn homebody Hobbit to the gold-lusting Dwarf. Take away the quest to destroy the ring and save the world, and Frodo and crew are just a band of trailblazers, rock climbers, fishermen, and archers, regardless of what their pointy ears, hairy feet, and impressive beards may tell you. 

Goonies (1985)

Hey, you guuuuuys! Don't you wish you brought your Pocket Ranger® instead?

Hey, you guuuuuys! Don’t you wish you brought your Pocket Ranger® instead?

For all of you spelunkers complaining that your hobby isn’t represented on the big screen, you obviously haven’t seen Goonies. This eighties classic proves that everyone is fit for adventure, even if they’re not, well, fit for adventure. The Goonies, a group of misfits and outcasts ban together to find a treasure that will inevitably save their neighborhood from the demolition ball, but not before encountering their fair share of unsavory characters, physical obstacles (both of the natural and oh-my-gosh-that-can’t-be-natural variety), and tests of character. The cave that the Goonies find themselves in itself is worth the watch, even if you find yourself unable to stomach the cheesy eighties humor and the infamous “Truffle Shuffle”.


On the Road Again: Best American Road Trip Movies

Ah, the road trip.  The great American journey across the country, soaking in the beauty and uniqueness of our great land from the cramped quarters of a car or an RV, singing along to good tunes, pinching your brother in the backseat, and making memories with friends and family.  This summer ritual is as American as apple pie.  Whether you’re heading to the beach, to a theme park, or to a great State Park, we’ve compiled a list of road trip movies to watch either before you hit the road or while you’re on those long stretches of interstate, all chosen to muster up your spirit of adventure.

The Classics

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

The first (and best?) of the National Lampoon Vacation films, this comedy features the hapless Griswold family.  Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) has grand ideas about bonding with his family on the Great American Road Trip to Walley World (the fictionalized Disneyland), but – as with any family adventure – nothing goes according to plan, resulting in hilarity (and, eventually, a number of “Vacation” sequels, proving that the journey might just be worth it, no matter what happens).

Easy Rider (1969)

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper star in this classic film that helped define an era.  As two rough bikers ride through the American South and Southwest, they uncover the gritty American landscape – physical and social – of the late 1960s.  It’s a road trip for the sake of the trip and the freedom it gives to define a counterculture in a tumultuous era.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

Beloved ’80s director John Hughes brought us this comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy, a story about Murphy’s Law on the road. Neal Page (Martin) is an uptight ad-man just trying to get to Chicago for Thanksgiving, but every obstacle imaginable – including meeting the bumbling Del Griffith (Candy) – conspires to make the quick flight a 3-day road trip full of memorable comedy and heart.

Thelma and Louise (1991)

When an honest fishing trip between two best friends goes awry, they travel from Oklahoma to Mexico to escape the law.  It’s not your typical family-friendly fare, but the film does feature two saucy ladies-turned-fugitive (both Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon were nominated for an Academy Award for their roles), the first big screen appearance of Brad Pitt, an unforgettable ending, and enough memories in a 1966 Thunderbird to make you want to buy a convertible and hit the road.

For the Family

The Muppet Movie (1979)

“A frog and a bear seeing America.”  What more do you need for a road trip?  When everybody’s favorite little green friend decides to head for the big lights of Hollywood, he meets all manner of creature and adventure along the way.  Spun off of The Muppet Show, the series that brought good humor and famous faces into our childhood living rooms, this film has everything from psychadelic cars to catchy tunes: “Movin’ right along.  Footloose and fancy-free.  Getting there is half the fun; come share it with me.”

The Princess Bride (1987)

Adventure, fantasy, drama, “Twoo love,”  and enough quotable one-liners to last you a lifetime. Though not a typical road trip with a car and the highway, it’s a multi-layered journey.  A caring grandfather (Peter Falk) leads his sick grandson (Fred Savage) through a magical book journey, the star-crossed lovers Buttercup (Robin Wright) and Wesley/The Dread Pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes) must travel through fantasy – not to mention the Cliffs of Insanity and the Fire Swamp – to find one another, and a host of unforgettable characters find the path to movie history in this beloved film.  Missing out on the adventure would be “inconceivable.”


We’re treating all of the delightful Disney-Pixar feature films as a composite of greatness here because all of them are thoroughly entertaining films (for kids and adults alike), almost all are about some kind of trip, and any of them would be perfect to pass the time in between destinations.

Our Favorites:

Toy Story (1995, 1999, 2010) -The journey from childhood to adulthood, from kid’s room to neighbor’s house to daycare to landfill and back again.

Finding Nemo (2003) – A road trip Down Under – literally, under the sea and in Australia – that helps a son grow up and a father let him.

Cars (2006) – An homage to the wonder years of the road trip, to the days of Route 66 and small-town America, we couldn’t help but include this one on our list.

Up (2009) – After the most emotionally compelling opening sequence ever, this film leads viewers from heartache to Paradise Falls in Venezuela.



The New Classics

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

This comedy-drama breathes new life into the family-bonding-through-a-road-trip experience.  A highly dysfunctional family characterized by anger, depression, and disappointment realizes how much they need each other when they band together to protect and support the charmingly idealistic Olive (Abigail Breslin) in her attempt to win the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.

Away We Go (2009)

This small but touching film approaches the family road trip from a different angle – from the beginning.  Burt Farlander (John Krasinski) and Verona de Tessant (Maya Rudolph) are a couple expecting their first child, and they go on the road searching for a place to settle down, a place to call home.  Seeing their friends and family in different stages of life and trial – in places as diverse as Arizona, Wisconsin, Montreal, and Florida – they come to define themselves, their relationship, and their future as they travel. (Bonus: It’s a green film, whose every element of production was environmentally conscious.)

On the Road (2012)

“The road is life” (On the Road, Part 3, Chapter 5). This choice is a sneak peek, but it’s an upcoming film based on Jack Kerouac’s iconic 1951 road trip novel of the same name. In it, Sal Paradise (representing Kerouac) and the enigmatic Dean Moriarty (representing Neal Cassady) criss-cross the American landscape, helping to define the Beat Generation.  Sal’s journey is literal and metaphorical as he journeys from East to West Coast, loving the free-spirited nature of the road, jazz music, and the democratic idealism embodied in American culture: “Why think about that when all the golden land’s ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?” (On the Road, Part 2, Chapter 6).