Rogue 10: Ten Cinematic Road Trips With Dad

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 15:36 Written by  iamrogue
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Rogue 10: Ten Cinematic Road Trips With Dad

Summer, a season when movies get bigger yet mean so much less, has arrived. 

In this season of frenzied digital spectacle, there's already an oddity in limited release: an earnest little comedy-drama from a writer-director who has delivered his share of blockbuster super-action.

This little gem fits, for a stretch of its zippy story, into a specific subgenre that we're very fond of here at IAR, the father-family road trip movie.  Damn near everyone has spent seemingly endless hours in transit with a parent, the tediousness of the highway and the proximity of a car making the conversation both boring and intense.

With the first entry on the list as our inspiration, we decided to devote the latest ROGUE 10 to some films that follow fathers and their progeny on huge journeys.  It's a surprisingly varied subgenre, and we've tried to reflect that, so please enjoy these ten examples of the form:

Chef (2014), directed by Jon Favreau

The movie that got us thinking of this list in the first place, Chef's about a onetime culinary dynamo who has lost his passion for cooking and is phoning in his duties as a father.  When the Carl Casper, the chef of the title, starts a food truck, he and his son are joined by a motley crew as they head off on a cross-country tour that's one part No Reservations-style travelogue, one part father-son bonding adventure.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, (1989), directed by Steven Spielberg

In which the world's foremost adventurer/collector of rare antiquities takes his father on a globe-trotting adventure, battles Nazis, bangs an old flame of the elder Jones's, finds the Holy Grail, saves his dad's life, and still manages to get no respect from his old man.

Road to Perdition (2002), directed by Sam Mendes

On paper, Michael Sullivan Jr. is living the dream.  He's riding shotgun with Mike Sullivan Sr., a hitman, as they rob a series of mob-owned banks.  He even gets to learn to drive the getaway car in an outlaw version of an adolescent rite of passage.  Too bad that the rest of the Sullivans – Jr.'s mom and little brother – had to die in a mafia hit that was indirectly Michael's fault.

A Goofy Movie (1995), directed by Kevin Lima

A lot of people are embarrassed by their goofy, unfunny dads, but Max thinks has it worse than most: his dad is Goofy.  Like actually Goofy.  And he's so concerned about his son's future that he forces him into an epic trip to Lake Destiny, Idaho for fishing.  Max, who lied to a cute girl by saying he was on his way to a pop concert in LA, discovers that Goofy is, in fact, so cool that he'll make the kid's lie a reality.

TransAmerica (2005), directed by Duncan Tucker

In some ways, it's a familiar story: A guy discovers that he's the father of a wayward seventeen-year-old, whom he must now take on a cross-country journey.  In some other ways, it's less conventional: the kid wants to cross the country so he can pursue his porn star dreams and, more importantly, the dad is a transsexual on the cusp of gender reassignment.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940), directed by John Ford

If, at any point this summer, you find yourself in the backseat of the family car losing patience, just be thankful you're not a Joad.

After Earth (2013), directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Like a road trip mishap, but in space.  This is about a space-warrior and his wiener kid on a space-vacation together when they accidentally crash on distant-future Earth now populated by giant birds, pissed off apes, and a monster that smells fear.  The dad has to teach his kid not to be such a wiener and the kid gets to save his space-warrior dad.

The Road (2009), directed by John Hillcoat

Not exactly a heartwarming, feel-good affair, this relentlessly bleak adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's equally bleak post-apocalyptic novel is the only movie on this list in which the father teaches his son to kill himself rather than, you know, fall into the clutches of cannibals.

Nebraska (2013), directed by Alexander Payne

It's actually much sweeter and touching than you'd expect from a black and white movie about a grown-up sad sack driving his elderly, alcoholic father from Montana to Nebraska, where the delusional pater familias thinks he's won a million dollars in publishers clearing house money. 

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), directed by Harold Ramis

Clark Griswold is an American Don Quixote on a delusional, absurd, towering adventure to Wally Word.  The Griswolds and their escapades are downright mythic (note the Monument Valley backdrop as Rusty downs a beer in the clip above).  He's not just a lame, out of touch modern dad.  He's the lame, out of touch modern dad.

Remember, Chef is currently playing in limited release and expanding to new theaters every week.

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