Summer is slipping away. A couple months ago, there was so much sunshine ahead of you. You had plans that involved the mountains, the beaches, laying in the air conditioning, and everything in between. Now summer’s almost over and you haven’t done shit. You only have a couple precious weeks left until Labor Day, which leads to cooling off, a larger workload, and free time dominated by obligatory family holidays. The time for fun is almost over.
But don’t despair! There’s still time! In these last precious weeks of what once seemed like an endless summer, you can throw a backpack in the trunk, grab your bestie, purchase just the right amount of booze and condoms, and have the best road trip of your life. Before you go, do yourself a favor and take some advice from the most well-traveled women of the silver screen. Here are the best female road trip movies.
Wendy and Lucy (2008)Oscilloscope Pictures
When we talk about taking a road trip with our main bitch, we aren’t usually talking about our dogs. The indie drama Wendy and Lucy, starring Michelle Williams, proves that dogs can be woman’s best friend as well, especially when a lady has no one else left. This low-budget, incredibly short film (it clocks in at 80 minutes) has had quite an impact, making a number of “best of the aughts” film lists. So, if you haven’t caught this brisk tale of a woman and her dog on the road to Alaska, you should give it a shot.
Tammy (2014)Warner Bros. Pictures
There have been quite a few tear-jerking drama road movies with women in the driver’s seat, but road comedies generally require a penis to get out of the driveway. Classic road comedies like It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World go out of their way to take sexist shots at their female characters. Though Tammy is imperfect, it is nice to see a woman finally anchor a comedy road movie. Susan Sarandon has definitely co-starred in better road movies (keep reading), but there are some hilarious moments in this middling installment of the Melissa McCarthy multiplex juggernaut.
Crossroads (2002)Paramount Pictures
Spare us your hate. Whether or not you believe that Britney Spears should have been a movie star, Crossroads was watched at way too many early 2000s sleepovers for us to deny the film’s cultural impact, whether we like it or not. Crossroads also offers an important lesson to the young women out there. Don’t make a “wish box” with your friends, because even if you drift apart, you’ll be forced into a cross-country road trip when you’re trying to enjoy your high school graduation.
OK, maybe that’s too specific a lesson to apply to most people, but you still should avoid making wish boxes.
Eat Pray Love (2010)Columbia Pictures
The movie didn’t exactly live up to the hype of the book that launched a thousand book clubs, but you have to respect the sheer scope of Elizabeth Gilbert’s (Julia Roberts) journey. While most road trip movies are content to send their heroines across the American West, Eat Pray Love launches its globetrotting leading lady from Italy to India to Indonesia. The book and movie have grown to symbolize all that is basic, but you have to admit that a year jumping between these countries that begin with “I” would be pretty dope.
My Blueberry Nights (2007)The Weinstein Company
Legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai chose the female-driven road movie My Blueberry Nights as his first English language film in 2007. After Elizabeth’s (Norah Jones) boyfriend cheats on her, she begins an odyssey that tosses her around the country taking waitressing jobs and encountering a variety of broken people, from an alcoholic policeman in Tennessee to a poker addict in Nevada. As is often the case in road movies, you get the sense that she is destined to float back to where she started from, though home is sure to look different after thousands of miles.
Boys on the Side (1995)Warner Bros.
Not every road trip needs to be this much of a tearjerker, but sometimes the best thing on the open road is a good cry. This film turns into a cry fest in short order, but a road trip with strangers could turn out a lot worse. Sure, there’s a little murder, some sexually transmitted diseases, and the shattering of long-held dreams, but at least these three ladies get along. It’s hard to imagine most strangers on a road trip agreeing what music to listen to, let alone forging an unparalleled emotional bond.
Paper Heart (2009)Overture Films
There have been tons of road trip movies over the years, and none of them are quite like Paper Heart. Filmmaker, artist, and actress Charlyne Yi had an idea to hit the road to make a documentary about love. As she and director Nicholas Jasenovec kicked around the idea, they decided that the film might actually work better as a mockumentary about a fictionalized Charlyne and Nicholas working on such a documentary. In the film, she “interviews” myriad experts and manages to fall in love herself as she attempts to figure out if true love really exists.
Wild (2014)Fox Searchlight Pictures
Important cinematic road trips don’t have to take place in car; so long as long as they end up being a journey of self-discovery, any mode of transportation will do. Wild offers more self-discovery than pretty much any other movie in your Netflix queue. Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) gives herself plenty of time to think about her life and meditate on her past as she picks the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail for her personal path to redemption.
For those of you considering a similar trip, just remember that while Strayed had a life-changing experience, she also almost died of dehydration and was forced to lick moisture off of her tent to survive. No matter how long your hike, make sure you prepare accordingly.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)Fox Searchlight Pictures
This road trip packs far more testosterone than the other entrants on this list, but the journeys of the women in Little Miss Sunshine are some of the most interesting road movies have to offer. The film is about the harsh realities of real life meeting expectations, but is balanced out by an underlying sweetness and relentless optimism.
Olive, played by Abigail Breslin, steals the show as the sweetly naïve girl who dances to the beat of her own drum, a drumbeat which is set to Rick James’ legendary “Super Freak.”
Thelma and Louise (1991)Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
This most epic girl power road trip is too often remembered for its tragic bookends. It begins with a near-rape and murder and ends with a double suicide. So maybe you don’t want to take every page out of their feminist outlaw playbook, but let’s talk about the parts of their journey that are awesome: (1) They got their hands on a dope 1966 Thunderbird convertible. (2) They got their hands on Brad Pitt. (3) They find fun hobbies to pass the time along the way, such as motel room sex and robbing convenience stores. (4) They respond in kind to any and all road rage directed their way.
Maybe Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon didn’t take the perfect road trip (the best view of the Grand Canyon isn’t from inside of it after all). But, all things considered, you could do a lot worse than they did, and unlike so many vacations, their trip certainly wasn’t boring.