The Open Road 5 Road Movies

Tuesday, November 22 by Houlihan Macaco

Road movies sure do inspire. There's something inherently romantic about a freak, or a group of freaks, who gives up modern comforts to hit the open road. In fact, "freak" is an important term here because ordinary people seem to love freaky road warriors, as long as they're purely fictional. Below is an authoritative list of some of the freakiest open road movies in Hollywood.

"The Muppet Movie" – This 1979 film outlines a fictional story of the origins of Jim Henson's Muppets. A film producer spies Kermit the Frog playing a banjo in a swamp and inspires him to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood. Kermit teams up with Fozzie Bear and his old Studebaker, and they journey to Hollywood while picking up hitchhiking freaks, a pig beauty queen and other furry characters along the way. Evil capitalist frog leg chain owner, Doc Hopper (Charles Durning), follows Kermit all the way to California with his sidekick Max (Austin Pendleton) after discovering that this banjo-playing and bicycle-riding frog would make a darn good television mascot. Even a new rainbow paintjob from a group of musical hippies doesn't fool the villain, and Hopper ends up kidnapping Kermit. The merry band of ambitious hipsters and dreamers do make it to Tinseltown with only one more major showdown with Hopper and friends. 

"Cheech and Chong: Up in Smoke" – Unlike the above movie that hides some of the vices of its cast, this 1978 classic boldly shows its stoner characters actually smoking pot quite frequently. Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin play Anthony "Man" Stoner and Pedro Pacas. The two characters end up getting deported to Tijuana after Pedro's friends call immigration on themselves to get a free ride to Mexico. To get back, the duo lands a deal to drive someone's van to the USA. However, they accidentally become marijuana smugglers when they go to the wrong place and pick up a van made of ganja. The trip is filled with toking and slapstick humor as, unbeknownst to the stoner duo, the cops follow them on their journey. 

"Into the Wild" – Yikes, more hippies. This 2007 open road hippie movie is based on a true story of an Emory University graduate who hitchhikes across the USA to take residence in the Alaska wilderness. It is also based on the book of the same name by Jon Krakauer. The story is filled with interesting people, including a village of hippies and camp fires in an abandoned Arizona ghost town. As a side note, the real life occupants are actually pissed because the movie blew their spot. In the end, Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) becomes disillusioned with the wilderness lifestyle after eating poison berries and battling massive amounts of snow. 

"National Lampoon's Vacation" – Chevy Chase plays Clark Griswold, the non-hippie father of a non-hippie family on route to the Wally World amusement park, in this flick from 1983. He makes the Chicago to Los Angeles voyage in a crappy station wagon to meet Marty Moose with his son, Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall), his daughter, Audrey (Dana Barron) and Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), his wife. The misadventure is a fiasco from the very beginning. They lose their luggage from the roof of the car and get compelled to transport grouchy Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) and her sinister dog only to find her dead during the trip. When they finally make it to Wally World, they find out that the park has been shut down. 

"Easy Rider" – Back to hippies now. This time, it's 1969 biker hippies. "Captain America" and Billy (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) are two countercultural bikers who use cocaine smuggling money to fund a road trip from Los Angeles to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. They camp out along the way because hotel staffs just don't like their kind. In their travels, they pick up a hitchhiker who leads them to a commune where they grow food and enjoy the delights of free love and LSD. The icing on the cake is that they get arrested for joining a local parade without a permit, and their ACLU lawyer is none other than Jack Nicholson. They introduce him to both the road and the joys of marijuana. 

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