Pack the popcorn and hit the road with these hilarious movies that showcase the best of the genre. Chevy Chase and the entire Griswold family get up to a cross-country trip’s worth of shenanigans in this classic comedy. This improvised movie set the bar high for buddy comedies. The Oscar-winning performance by Art Carney makes Harry & Tonto more than just a funny story about two brothers on the run.
1. It Happened One Night (1930)
The classic film about a runaway heiress and the reporter who catches up with her, It Happened One Night crystallized the screwball comedy genre. Its erotic sparks between Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable are still undeniable, but its underlying message about the economic equalizing of classes and barriers in America galvanized Depression audiences.
Walter Connolly, a Broadway star, is marvelous as Ellie’s exasperated father and Gable’s bemused co-star. It’s a departure from Frank Capra’s usual working class, bigger picture themes (It’s a Wonderful Life and You Can’t Take It With You). But it shows the director had the ability to tap into audiences’ social consciousness as well as pick crowd-pleasing stars. The repelisplus movie was the first to win all five Oscars in 1934. It remains a touchstone for road trip movies to this day.
2. Vacation (1983)
The ultimate road trip comedy film, Todd Phillips’ insane raunchy classic features some of the most hilarious improv and line reading ever recorded by some of the greatest up-and-coming comic talents of our time (Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader, Evan Goldberg, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and more). This movie set the tone for future buddy comedies like Lethal Weapon, 48 Hrs., and Midnight Run.
Chevy Chase and John Candy were at their peaks in this 1983 classic about the disastrous Griswold family’s cross-country trek to California’s fictional Wally World amusement park. This movie also helped establish the family cross-country road trip as a popular genre.
3. Road Trip (1993)
Road trips are a great way to see the country and make lifelong memories. But, they can also be tiresome and sometimes boring. Luckily, movies can help make these long drives more enjoyable. If you need a little road trip inspiration, check out these classic comedies. From slapstick to sentimental, these films will leave you laughing and dreaming of your next big adventure.
John Candy and Steve Martin are at their best in this hilarious film about a mismatched pair stuck on a road trip for the holidays. This film is both touching and funny and a perfect example of how a comedy can be as entertaining as it is clever. This is a must-see for any comedy lover!
4. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1993)
The man-child Pee Wee Herman is an acquired taste – but in this film his utterly endearing naiveté and sense of mischief work a treat. The sets and costumes are imaginative, the characters are delightfully quirky (from escaped convicts to rodeo clowns) and the whole thing is hilariously bonkers. Danny Elfman, frontman for the band Oingo Boingo, provides a wonderfully whimsical score that helps to elevate this road trip comedy to great heights.
Pee-wee’s journey is reminiscent of classic Warner Brothers cartoons and he encounters a host of eccentric people along the way. This is a movie that kids and adults will love (although it might make some parents feel a bit like squeakily irritating childish creatures). James Brolin, Morgan Fairchild, Cassandra Peterson from Twisted Sister and Milton Berle all provide excellent support. The film also features the very first on screen cameo from Tim Burton, which would become something of a trademark for him.
5. Thelma & Louise (1990)
The Farrelly Brothers’ raunchy buddy movie is a timeless classic. It’s hard to find something that’s not funny about this story of four college friends who embark on a cross-country road trip to retrieve a sex tape mistakenly mailed to one of them. Even those who don’t rally to pic’s fed-up feminist outcry will be swept along by its comedy, momentum and dazzling visuals. Arkansas housewife Thelma and waitress Louise take a road trip to blow off steam, and, when a guy tries to rape them, they plug him with a.38.
In Khouri’s hands, tired scenarios and cliched landscapes are reinvented for women. Thelma and Louise is a paradigm of female friendship. Its wry sense of freedom is unsurpassed. The film makes Route 66 look like the Yellow Brick Road. Featuring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.