Across the world, at-home viewing rates for TV and other visual media remain at an all-time high. In the US, recent data shows that 90% of all consumers retain or have even exceeded the highest viewership levels in 2020, according to Hub Entertainment Research. People are finding a lot of solace in the comfort of TV and movies, especially more outgoing individuals who can’t find a convenient time to take extended trips to places they’ve never been to. This may be part of the reason why a lot of recent titles, such as Pixar’s “Onward” and Amazon’s “The Wheel of Time,” are centered on this very desire for adventure. But if you’re someone nostalgic for the charm of movies from the aughts, check out these underrated titles.
2006’s Little Miss Sunshine
A heartwarming family-centric comedy drama, “Little Miss Sunshine” focuses on a girl named Olive, played by Abigail Breslin, who wants to compete in a beauty pageant in California. Trouble is, her entire family has to accompany her there, and they can be more than a handful as they race to the Sunshine State while harnessing the vehicle’s engine energy for all its worth. Their dysfunctional struggles lead to all sorts of hilarious and touching moments throughout their journey from New Mexico.
Featuring names such as Steve Carell and Toni Collette, “Little Miss Sunshine” is a hearty dose of classic family comedy. This will definitely become a favorite for those nostalgic for a time when there were movies centered on simple, unpretentious fun, with a solid emotional core that tied it all together.
2001’s Joy Ride
For those looking for something more heart-pumping, “Joy Ride” offers everything you would expect from a horror thriller, wrapped up in the blistering speed of high-speed car chases. This movie leans more on the horror aspect than the road trip aspect, but it’s definitely a refreshing change from the usual pattern of characters going to new places and finding themselves. In the film, the trip is less for pleasure and more for survival, hence the quaintly ironic name choice.
Paul Walker plays the main character Lewis in this story of desperate, narrow escapes. The movie starts off fairly quietly, with Lewis picking up his childhood friend and long-time crush Venna in Colorado so he can take her on a romantic cross-country road trip. Things don’t quite go as planned when his brother Fuller calls him before he gets there, asking him to bail him out of a Utah jail. Delinquent that he is, Fuller kicks things into high gear by roping Lewis into a prank on a random truck driver over the CB radio in Lewis’ car. Unfortunately for them, the truck driver turns out to have an almost supernatural knack for tracking hapless road trippers down, often when they almost think they’ve gotten away.
2002’s Interstate 60: Episodes Of The Road
In this film, the audience is taken with a man named Neal on a bewildering ride to a place that doesn’t exist. Neal, an aspiring artist, is constantly pressured by his family to become a lawyer. This leads him to become very confused as to which direction he wants to take his life. Fortunately, someone else makes this decision for him. Before he knew it, he was whisked away to a road that doesn’t appear on any map, and handed a mysterious package to be delivered to an unknown recipient.
The ambiguity of it all is the heart and soul of the film and reflects Neal’s internal conflict perfectly. Throughout the course of his journey to nowhere, he encounters hitchhikers, each more eccentric than the last. All of them, like Neal, are looking for something, and the nonexistent city of Danver is apparently their only hope of finding it. This comical yet profound story is fueled by the very mind behind “Back to the Future,” Bob Gale, so you can expect many of the same stylings and themes, and even a few familiar faces.
The thirst for adventure is one of the most human desires there are, but just as universal is the lack of opportunity to go on one. Fortunately, there are quite a few quality movies that can immerse you in the feeling of taking the trip of a lifetime.