Article Thumbnail

10 Road Movies That Remind Us Traveling Was Kind of Shitty Anyway

Yeah, staying home all the time sucks, but at least you’re not contending with snakes, murderous hillbillies or trucks full of explosives

Sure, you’re stuck at home wishing you could hit the road on some cross-country adventure, but that’s only because you’re idealizing what you can’t have right now. In reality, traveling by any means is fraught with problems, oftentimes to the point where the vacation wasn’t worth it to begin with. So instead of longing for a road trip or a flight to some far-off destination, just stay home, watch these movies and remind yourself what a miserable slog most kinds of traveling really is.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Where They’re Going: Steve Martin plays Neal Page, a temperamental control freak trying to make it from New York to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

How It Reminds Us That Traveling Actually Sucks: The problems start on the busy streets of New York, when Del Griffith (John Candy) accidentally takes Neal’s cab. He then runs into Del again at the airport and ends up sitting next to him on the plane, at which point he finds out Del is an annoying-as-fuck shower curtain-ring salesman who insists on talking to him on the plane, which is literally the worst part of flying, period.

Things get really bad after the plane is rerouted to Wichita, Kansas, and the two have to share the last shitty hotel room in town. Although they also get robbed, their train breaks down, they drive the wrong way on the freeway and a fire breaks out in their car, nothing in the movie sums up the genuine pain-in-the-ass that is traveling quite like the legendary scene at the rental car desk. This alone will put you off booking a trip, even after this is all over:

Easy Rider (1969)

Where They’re Going: After smuggling cocaine from Mexico into L.A., bikers Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper hit the road headed for Mardi Gras — you know, good clean fun (by the standards of the late 1960s, at least).

How It Reminds Us That Traveling Actually Sucks: Even carefree motorcycle rides can go awry when left to the unforgiving whims of the open road, which is exactly what happens in Easy Rider. After getting attacked by small-town locals, resulting in the death of their new friend (Jack Nicholson), the pair experience an excruciatingly bad acid trip, then fall victim to more gun-happy hillbillies, ending the movie dead on the side of the street. An unplanned road trip might seem like a good idea, but as this movie clearly demonstrates, staying home on the couch is a nice idea, too.

16 Blocks (2006)

Where They’re Going: A burned out cop — played by Bruce Willis — must get a valuable witness (Mos Def) to a New York City courthouse 16 blocks away.

How It Reminds Us That Traveling Actually Sucks: One of the movie’s main obstacles is plain old Manhattan traffic, which is why the movie — which takes place in real time — takes 102 minutes to make it little more than a mile. While working from home might have its own challenges with shitty Wi-Fi and back-wrenching makeshift offices, at least you’re not stuck in gridlock.

Tommy Boy (1995)

Where They’re Going: Tommy (Chris Farley) and Richard (David Spade) set out on a cross-country sales trip, selling brake pads in order to save Callahan Auto Parts from going under.

How It Reminds Us That Traveling Actually Sucks: Not only does Tommy Boy show how hard it is to work on the road, it also highlights one of the worst parts of traveling through rural America — deer. If you live in a part of the country without deer, count yourself as lucky, because those fuckers are the worst. Not only do you have to constantly watch out for them to be sure they don’t jump in the middle of the fucking road, but they can do a shit-ton of damage to your car if you do hit one. This goes double if you put a supposedly dead deer in your back seat (so don’t do that).

In addition to that, Tommy Boy also reminds us what a claustrophobic nightmare airplane bathrooms are, which is something exactly zero people are missing right now.

Thelma & Louise (1991)

Where They’re Going: Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis play two best friends, unsatisfied with their home lives and looking forward to a weekend getaway. 

How It Reminds Us That Traveling Actually Sucks: Things take a bad turn very quickly after a scumbag attempts to rape Thelma (Davis) outside of a bar. Louise (Sarandon) comes to the rescue and shoots the man dead, causing the two to go on the run. They quickly discover that any attempt to enjoy themselves on the road is met with some scheming bastard trying to interfere, and even though there’s the odd cathartic moment —

— all in all, it’s a reminder that a stranger isn’t really just a friend you haven’t met yet, they’re more often than not a complete asshole.

The Wages of Fear (1953)

Where They’re Going: Two trucks carrying nitroglycerine have to trek over dangerous roads in southern Mexico to quell an oil fire. If you’ve never seen it, it’s kind of like Ice Road Truckers if the trucks were transporting a giant bomb that could blow at any second.

How It Reminds Us That Traveling Actually Sucks: Nothing makes highway travel more terrifying than having to contend with tractor trailers — they’re huge, intimidating and who knows what dangerous shit they might be carrying? While they’re unlikely to spontaneously explode like they so often threaten to do in The Wages of Fear, tractor trailer accidents do happen on the highway, especially if idiotic drivers try cutting them off and the like. Truck accidents can be deadly and, at the very least, they can leave you stuck on the highway for hours while you’re waiting for the cleanup. Better to sit on the couch in your underpants all around, really.

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Where They’re Going: Samuel L. Jackson plays an FBI agent escorting an important witness from Hawaii to L.A. on a Boeing 747.

How It Reminds Us That Traveling Actually Sucks: Snakes on a Plane reminds us how one person can totally fuck up a flight for everyone else. While this movie is about a bad guy releasing snakes on a plane to kill a federal witness — which you hopefully haven’t experienced — I like to think of the snakes as a metaphor for all the real life ways one person can ruin your flying experience. Just think of that reclining dickhead in front of you; or that coughing asshole behind you that has God-knows-what; or the obnoxious idiot who brought his egg salad sandwich on the plane, stinking up the whole cabin. Or maybe the snakes represent that guy next to you who really wants to chat during the flight — seriously, it’s the fucking worst.

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

Where They’re Going: The Griswolds are taking a family road trip to Walley World, America’s Favorite Family Fun Park.

How It Reminds Us That Traveling Actually Sucks: Construction is another reason why driving is absolutely awful, as road closures and detours can easily derail even the most carefully laid plans. Such is the case for the Griswolds, when they unknowingly end up on a closed road, which soon results in them crashing their station wagon.

When you’re traveling, you might also have to deal with relatives who insist that you visit if you’re in town, when really all you want to do is bypass them and get to the fun stuff. While it sucks that quarantine is keeping us away from our loved ones, we can be somewhat grateful to have an iron-clad excuse not to visit those who we don’t actually want to see.

Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Where They’re Going: Harry and Lloyd — played by Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey — must travel from Providence, Rhode Island to Aspen, Colorado so that Lloyd can return a forgotten briefcase to the girl of his dreams.

How It Reminds Us That Traveling Actually Sucks: Like Tommy Boy and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Dumb and Dumber is a road movie where everything goes wrong. But where those movies take two opposite guys and make them buddies, Dumb and Dumber takes two lifetime friends and tests their bond like never before. Dumb and Dumber shows Harry and Lloyd competing for the affection of a girl that neither of them gets, Harry loses his shit over Lloyd’s terrible sense of direction and Lloyd even poisons Harry with laxatives.

While the two reconcile by the end of the film, Dumb and Dumber highlights how stressful travel can be even on the closest of friends. Indeed, the two would clearly have been better off staying home, tending to their worm farm and playing with Harry’s dead parakeet.

Titanic (1997)

Where They’re Going: The 2,224 passengers aboard the RMS Titanic were heading from Britain to the U.S., including Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio).

How It Reminds Us That Traveling Actually Sucks: Sure, Jack and Rose hook up in that old-timey car and fall in love in a romantic venue, but Titanic reminds us that the cruise industry was fucked up long before our current situation, and even before that infamous 2013 Carnival cruise where everyone was shitting all over each other. Cruise ships are basically giant petri dishes with shuffleboard, which is why people so often get sick on them, even when a pandemic isn’t going on. 

In Titanic, the passengers on board fall prey to the overconfidence of the ship’s builders (as well as its Captain’s shitty eyesight), which results in them smacking into an iceberg. It all concludes with a mad dash for an insufficient amount of lifeboats as the ship sinks into the arctic waters and the musicians on board fail to take the whole thing seriously.

Things go really badly for Jack, who finds out that Rose doesn’t quite love him enough to simply nudge over to one side. 

While you might be feeling stir crazy by now and you’re dying to go on any kind of a vacation, just remember that in reality, traveling totally sucks and that this holds true even when there isn’t lockdown going on. Staying at home may be dull, but it really is the best option. Jack would surely tell you the same, had the love of his life been willing to sacrifice a little bit of legroom.