Getting from A to B: Life Lessons Learned from 12 Travel Movies
By Stacie Hougland
This year's Oscar-nominated Up in the Air, about a businessman freaking out about losing his frequent-flyer miles, is one of many movies where getting around is half the battle and most of the plot. Read on for a rental roundup of travel-related pics, and what lessons we may--or may not--have learned from them.
National Lampoon's Vacation
Bumbling dad Clark (Chevy Chase) wants to take his fam on a road trip cross-country to the famed Wally World amusement park, and just can't seem to help the folly that occurs--one dead granny, one dead dog, near-adultery and a wrecked car. And this is a family film. Lesson Learned: If you can resist the temptation to murder your loved ones, family vacations can be relatively fun.
People rightly start thinking Jodie Foster is either a terrorist or out of her mind, screaming that her daughter whom nobody ever saw in the first place has disappeared on their transatlantic flight. Lesson Learned: "Not without my daughter!"
A trio of 20-somethings go backpacking across Europe, enjoying all the carnal delights it has to offer--weed, hookers, you name it, until two sexpots lure them into an elite underground torture club that finds them on the wrong end of the shop tools. Lesson Learned: Never an Ugly American be. Or at least hide a Bowie knife in your rucksack.
Into the Wild
A spoiled rich kid throws off the trappings of the mainstream and drives, hitches and hikes his way to the Alaskan wilderness to...well, we're not sure. What he does do is end up dead in a schoolbus. Lesson Learned: If you're making your way to the remotest ends of the earth to commune with yourself in complete secrecy, at least take a few handbooks with you. Or maybe an Eagle Scout.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Awesome classic pic with Steve Martin and John Candy as two guys trying to get home for Thanksgiving--well, one of them is, anyway. Lesson Learned: Be kind to your fellow travelers--you never know what their story is.
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
This cruise ain't no carnival, as a tidal wave capsizes it in the middle of the Atlantic and, like, totally ruins the New Year's festivities. Pretty much everyone dies except, to the survivors' fortune, the hot-pants bedecked Pamela Sue Martin and, to the survivors' misfortune, a fat complainy Jewish grandma. Lesson Learned: There are worse things to fear on the high seas than bad cruise food.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Two drag queens and a transsexual brave the Aussie desert in a bus to a gig, encounters with bigots and amiable aboriginees ensue. Lesson Learned: Drag Queens + Outback = Hot Tranny Mess
This too-cute-for-itself '90s slacker travel flick found Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy falling for each other over their Eurorail passes. Lesson Learned: Love, actually.
Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are free-wheeling hippies who hook up with a lawyer-drunk (Jack Nicholson) on their way to party in New Orleans. Taking him along was probably a worse idea than not wearing a helmet. Lesson Learned: "Heyyy man, is that freedom rock?"
The Darjeeling Limited
Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody play estranged brothers trying to reconnect on a spiritual and drug-laden train ride across India. Nobody wants to be there, until a series of accidents motivates them to visit Mom (Anjelica Huston) in the Himalayas. Lesson Learned: Pack light.
Thelma & Louise
Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are BFFs who want to get away from it all one weekend, until a chain of events--attempted rape, murder, one-night stands--lands them within reach of the long arm of the law. Lesson Learned: Don't blindly trust your best friend in matters of travel plans or much else.