Not too long ago, in a place not so far, far away, a new road-trip movie joined the five others in this listing.
Kings of the Road
The granddaddies of all road trippers, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, are traveling together again on DVD.
Intheir seven “road” pictures, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby traveledeverywhere from Singapore to Zanzibar. Fictionally, anyway — thejourneys took place largely on Hollywood back lots. But they weren’texactly typical fare. The road films satirized Hollywood’s biggeststars, studios, and conventions — parodying everything from actionfilms to love stories to Westerns — at the time when movies and theirstars were still larger than life. Only Hope and Crosby could havepulled off this feat with such ease. Stars of the stage first, theyexisted almost outside the industry that would make them megarich. Sowhen Hope goes from fighting a giant squid in Road to Balito talking directly to the audience, warning us, among other things,that Crosby is “gonna sing, folks. Now’s the time to go out and get thepopcorn,” it seems perfectly natural, even if it is highly unconventional. But that’s where the legacy of the road pictures getsodd. Unusual as they were for their time, they created a blueprint forall road-trip movies to come. Bickering travelers? Check. Wackysituations? Check. Pursuing evildoers? Love interests? Check and check.Of course, the one thing most of today’s movie road warriors can’tpull off is the self-referential feats. When Jackie Chan and ChrisTucker repeat the line, “Do you understand the words that are comingout of my mouth?” in all their Rush Hour films, it’s painful to watch. Not so when in Road to Rio Hope and Crosby enact one of their old vaudeville routines —patty-cake, no less — as a ruse to knock out some criminals. At theend, Hope offers a line we should all remember: “That’s what they getfor not seeing our pictures.” — Rob Gilmour
New Road-Trip Movie: Fanboys, to be released later this year.
Old Road-Trip Movie:It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, 1963. Stars: Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, and just about every other 1960s-era comedy star you can think of. Vehicle of Choice: Cars, mostly, although a biplane is also involved. Purpose of Journey: To secure $350,000 of stolen money. Remember: That was a lot more money in 1963. Best Line:Hackett, who plays the brilliantly named Benjy Benjamin, says to thegroup chasing the money, “We’ve figured it 17 different ways, and eachtime we figured it, it was no good. Because no matter how we figuredit, somebody don’t like the way we figured it. So now, there’s only oneway to figure it. And that is, every man, including the old bag, forhimself.”
Old Road-Trip Movie:Easy Rider, 1969. Stars: Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. Vehicle of Choice: Motorcycles. Purpose of Journey: Self-discovery and a search for the true soul of America. Plus, Mardi Gras. Best Line:Nicholson’s character asks, “What’s dude? Is that like dude ranch?”Fonda, as Wyatt, explains, “Dude means nice guy. Dude means a regularsort of person.” Dude. How could he not know?
Old Road-Trip Movie:National Lampoon’s Vacation, 1983. Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, and Randy Quaid. Vehicle of Choice: The Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Purpose of Journey: A family trip to Walley World. Best Line:Chase, to a hotel clerk after his credit card was rudely declined, “I’mmaking a check out for $1,000. All you have to do is give me $300 incash and keep the $700, all for doing nothing more than acting like atotal creep.”
Old Road-Trip Movie:Midnight Run, 1988. Stars: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, and Yaphet Kotto. Vehicle of Choice:Trains. Purpose of Journey: De Niro is a bounty hunter chasing Grodin,a white-collar criminal, across the country before a bunch of mobstersfind him. Best Line:De Niro, as Jack Walsh, says to FBI agent Alonzo Mosely, played byKotto, “Can I ask you something? These sunglasses — they’re reallynice. Are they government-issued, or do all you guys go to the samestore to get them?”
Old Road-Trip Movie:Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, 2006 Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen and a bunch of people who probably shouldn’t have signed releases to be on camera. Vehicle of Choice: A mulepowered car and an ice cream truck. Purpose of Journey: Um, for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan. Duh. Best Line: Borat’s buddy, Azamat, asks, “What’s in California?” Borat replies, “Pearl Harbor is there. So is Texas.”
Battle of the
Who’s the best TV traveler? We rate five top contenders.
TV Travel Show
No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, Travel Channel
A chef turned traveler sees the sights and eats the native cuisine while smoking too much and offering constant, cranky narration.
He eats seal in a Canadian Eskimo village. Raw seal. Raw seal eyeball.
Since he’s always visiting “friends” in faraway places who take him well off the beaten path, you’re going to get annoyed when he berates you for being a bad traveler. It’d be nice if we all had a camera crew to take on our trips. Still, Bourdain’s travelogues, when not condescending, can be inspirational.
Globe Trekker with Justine Shapiro, Ian Wright, and Megan McCormick, PBS
Gen Xers, backed by Lonely Planet, travel in rad ways and do their trips to the X-treme, even if they’re far too old to be staying in hostels.
Wright, the morning after drinking too much tequila in
The travelers may be poorly attired, and the show may get a little too cute at times, but the hosts usually know their history, have respect for local customs, and do an excellent job of making us interested in places we had never considered going.
Giada’s Weekend Getaways with Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network
De Laurentiis sees some sights, eats several meals, and changes outfits a few times.
De Laurentiis suffers by comparison with other TV travelers because she’s only going somewhere for a weekend. How much can you learn in that short of a time? Still, she could do more than make us watch her eat. One idea: Go talk to the chef instead.
Mild-mannered everyman traveler gives detail-oriented tours of European towns and cities.
Steves scores high for telling you the practical things other travel shows don’t, like how to get a train ticket, how to approach a local in a shop, and how to score an inexpensive hotel room that’s not a hostel (usually). He will not, however, eat seal eyeballs.
The Amazing Race, CBS
Teams of travelers are sent around the globe on a nerve-racking, nailbiting scavenger hunt race.
A pair of contestants beg for cab money. In
Yeah, it’s a game show. And, no, you won’t really learn much. But you don’t get this window to the world from, say, Jeopardy! Remember when Paul and Amie were lost in the
What to watch when you're not on the road. By John Ross
My Name Is Ponch
If you’re anything like us, you can’t get enough of Erik Estradaon TV — his acting, that is. We’re no fans of his stints (or anyone else’sstints) on The Surreal Life and Armed & Famous. Those are notthe kinds of places you want to see a throwback, hirsute fellow like Estrada,the self-proclaimed King of Hunkdom. Preferably,we’d see Estrada in CHiPs ’08 , but since that project isn’t happening,we have to settle for watching him on Husband for Hire , which will airon Oxygen. In this TV movie, onetime officer Francis Llewellyn “Ponch”Poncherello is the father of My Name Is Earl’s Nadine Velazquez. Shehires Kelly Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos, to pretend to be her husband so shecan claim a family fortune. Or something. We are really just watching to see ifEstrada makes any traffic stops.
U2 + 3D = Best Movie You’ll See
There is not a better movie in theaters this month than U2 3D,which, given the quality of most releases this time of year, probably doesn’tsound like much of a compliment. But it is. The film, the first everlive-action movie to be shot, produced, and shown in digital 3-D, captures theband on their Vertigo tour, playing in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. Thedigital imagery is a true breakthrough. The cameras come in pairs — a right anda left eye, so to speak — that produce a deep image that is almost true tolife. Focusing both “eyes” on the performances was the job of codirectors CatherineOwens and Mark Pellington, who have long relationships with the band.Pellington directed the video for “One,” and Owens, who has served as U2’svisual-content director for several years (we’re not sure if that means shesupplies Bono with sunglasses), has been friends with the bandmates since sheand they were teenagers growing up in
The Doctor Is In
In Treatment, HBO’s newest — and very frequentlyaired — show, as told in numbers. 43Totalnumber of episodes HBO has committed to for the series, which stars GabrielByrne as a therapist. 9Number of weeks, in succession, that the show will be on the air. 5Numberof nights, per week, the show will air. (Monday through Friday in its regularslot on HBO. Technically, though, there are more airings on HBO’s other networks.)30Number of minutes each episode will run. 5Number ofpatients Byrne will see each week. (The same five patients will appearthroughout the course of the show’s 43 episodes.) 1Numberof times per week that Byrne’s character will see his own therapist. 6Numberof stars in the show joining Byrne. Josh Charles, Embeth Davidtz, Melissa George,Blair Underwood, and Mia Wasikowska are Byrne’s patients. Dianne Wiest is hispsychiatrist. 28The date in January when the premier episode airs. Mark your calendar— repeatedly.
Great Caesar’sGhost? Maybe Not.