Best: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
John Hughes' classic cross-country comedy sees Steve's Martin's ad exec get stuck with John Candy's motormouth travel-companion from hell. The pair are attempting to travel from Chicago to New York in time for Thanksgiving.
Highlights include Candy's dangerous driving to the tune of 'Mess Around' (the wrong way down the motorway), an instance of underpants/face-cloth confusion, and inappropriate sleeping arrangements.
The (actually pretty creepy) twist might be a slightly odd note to end on, but this is still a welcome 'holiday' watch that bears up to repeat journeys. It's a testament to Candy's onscreen warmth that he manages to remain likeable against the odds.
Worst: I'll Be Home For Christmas (1998)
Sticking with the holiday theme, this is an absolutely diabolical effort starring one of the irritating kids from Home Improvement . Jonathan Taylor Thomas is the college boy on a mission to make it home for Christmas.
His dad (Gary Cole) has offered him a Porsche if he arrives back in time for the family dinner on Christmas Eve. He's also got a girlfriend (a young Jessica Biel) to win back from a sleazy competitor, and there are lessons about the real spirit of Christmas to be learnt along the way.
Likely to sap any reserves of seasonal goodwill that you might have.
Best: Central Station (1998)
This Brazilian road movie was directed by Walter Salles, who went on to film The Motorcycle Diaries . He's also shooting Jack Kerouac's On the Road , so he obviously has a thing for travel stories.
In Central Station , Dora (Fernanda Montenegro), a former teacher, works at the train station writing letters she's not going to post for illiterate people who are none the wiser. When one of her customers dies after being hit by a bus, Dora ends up escorting bereaved kid Josué (Vinícius de Oliveira) on a journey to find his absent father.
Moving, but rewardingly unslushy, the relationship between the old woman and young boy really makes the film, which is bolstered by a strong turn from Montenegro, and de Oliveira's bright and charming performance.
Worst: EuroTrip (2004)
Horny teens on a European jaunt is the basis of this will-sapping comedy. No stereotype is left unbefouled, as the foursome pop to a variety of countries on the continent: there's Nazi Germans, Dutch sexpots, British football thugs (led by Vinnie Jones) and more.
The movie also shoots its proverbial comedic load too early. The trip is prompted when lead character Scotty (Scott Mechlowicz) finds out his girlfriend actually has been *bleep*ing Matt Damon, and the Bourne star cameos as a shaven-headed, lady-stealing rocker.
The deluge of lazy gags that follow don't even come close to the fun of seeing Damon getting into character.
Best: The Sure Thing (1985)
Rob Reiner directed this superior teen romcom in the midst of a superb streak of movies (it followed This Is Spinal Tap , and came before Stand by Me , The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally... ).
John Cusack stars as Walter Gibson, a randy teen who struggles to get any lady action, even when he goes to college. His mate Anthony Edwards is studying at UCLA, and assures Gibson that he has set up the 'sure thing' of the title if he can make his way there.
Allison (Daphne Zuniga), the girl that Gibson has failed to woo in the past, is making the same journey (to visit her boyfriend), and the pair slowly grow to realise their feelings for one another via dodgy car shares and awkward sleeping arrangements.
You'll easily be able to guess whether or not Gibson ends up going through with his sure thing, but this remains an 80s delight.
Worst: Sex Drive (2008)
Based on a similar principle to The Sure Thing , this sub- American Pie teen-com sees a desperate virgin travel from Illinois to Tennessee in order to seal the deal with a babe he's been chatting to online under a buffed-up persona.
Man-on-a-mission Ian (Josh Zuckerman) steals his bro's (James Marsden) vintage car and hits the road with his comedy sidekick best mate and his female friend (who he really loves, obviously). They encounter various bawdy goings-on and cartoon Amish folk, before coming to the inevitable realisation that the mystery online woman is not all she seems.
None of the charm or feeling of nostalgia that makes a great teen-com, or a great road movie for that matter. You'll know exactly where this dross is going before it hits its destination.
Best: The Incredible Journey (1963)
This live-action vintage Disney effort sees three household pets travel 200 miles home after they're left at a friends' house for the holidays.
Trying to find their way back to their real home after their new guardian fails to play close enough attention to them, the plucky trio, made up of two dogs and a cat, traverse the rough terrain of northern Canada to arrive back home against the odds.
It has dated a little (it is five decades old), but we defy you to hold back a tear as old Bull Terrier Bodger makes his way down the hill to the family home.
Worst: Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco (1996)
The first Homeward Bound was a half-decent stab at updating the 1963 movie. Fans of the original were a bit disheartened to see that the pets had been given voices, but it was a respectable enough re-do.
It was a pretty successful re-do too, which meant that a sequel was quickly propelled into production. This is the Lost in New York to the original's Home Alone , as the animals have to make it through the big city, and there's some tough street dogs to contend with (and a love interest for Michael J. Fox's Chance).
Sappy, sickly, and thoroughly unnecessary, this lacks any of the sense of peril that made its predecessors so engaging.
Best: Easy Rider (1969)
Easy Rider is inseparable from any discussion of road movies. The counter-culture classic deserves attention for the three compelling performances at its core (Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and an electrifying Jack Nicholson) even if you couldn't care less about motorcycles, hippies or the American Southwest.
Wyatt (Fonda) and Billy (Hopper) are a new breed of cowboy, and they're tearing through the American dream on their choppers. Nicholson's lawyer is the most memorable of a bunch of characters the pair come across during their journey.
Fittingly, the drug-addled road movie also features one of the finest 'trips' committed to film.
Worst: Crossroads (2002)
The promise of the Britney-Spears-in-her-underwear scene shouldn't tempt even the randiest adolescent to partake in this journey.
Three high-school graduates hit the road with different aims: Lucy (Spears) wants to find her estranged mother, Kit (Zoe Saldana) plans to see her boyfriend, and their preggers friend Mimi (Taryn Manning) is just coming along for the ride.
Sledgehammer characterisation, a dull love interest in the form of Anson Mount's hitchhiker, and little chemistry between the girls mean this is running on empty. The most talented actors of the bunch, Dan Aykroyd, Kim Cattrall and Justin Long are given short shrift, with little time to shine.
Best: The Straight Story (1999)
This is destined to be forever remembered as the most 'un-Lynch' David Lynch film ever, but it has plenty to recommend besides the curiosity value. Gone are any trippy visuals, non-existent narratives, and general feelings of dread, making way for a touching, hopeful slice of Americana.
Richard Farnsworth is superb as Alvin Straight, a real-life figure who rode a 30-year-old tractor 240 miles to visit his ailing brother. It never becomes too twee, thanks to top performances and Lynch's dedication to the true events (the movie was shot in chronological order and followed Straight's actual journey).
A charming, but not oversimplified, look at life, relationships, and journeys.
Worst: The Sweetest Thing (2002)
A low point on Cameron Diaz's CV, here she plays Christina Walters, a woman who becomes obsessed with square-jawed hunk Peter Donahue (Thomas Jane). She ropes her friends (Christina Applegate and Selma Blair) into hitting the road to hunt down the man of her dreams, oblivious to the fact that he's due to get married.
En route, it's a case of ill-judged gross-out gags a go-go. It's a shame to see the undoubtedly talented comic actresses flounder with such weak material. There are only so many distasteful sex gags you can stomach, especially when there are no likeable characters on board to rally your interest.
Thankfully Diaz's career survived this mess, though she'll probably never be able to completely shake off 'The Penis Song'...
Best: Rain Man (1988)
Rain Man boasts an Oscar-winning performance from Dustin Hoffman and a career-highlight turn from Tom Cruise. Shallow car dealer Charlie (Cruise) is dismayed to learn he won't be inheriting much money after his father's death, as it's all flowing to an institution that's home to Raymond (Hoffman), a brother he never knew he had.
During the course of a road trip to meet lawyers in LA, Charlie slowly transforms from selfish a-hole to a slightly less selfish but confused a-hole who eventually does the right thing.
Along the way, Charlie tries to abuse Raymond's autism for profit by teaching him card counting, but he slowly realises that perhaps the docs do know what is best for his older bro.
Like many of the best road movies, the metaphorical "journey" is more important than the roads travelled.
Worst: All About Steve (2009)
Sandra Bullock was in the midst of a career resuscitation when she starred in this absolute stinker. The Proposal and The Blind Side were both huge hits at the box office, and the latter saw her take home her very own Oscar. How this one slipped through the net is still a mystery.
Sandra plays one of her most unlikeable characters to date. Mary is an awkward crossword compiler (is there any other kind?), who becomes obsessed with news cameraman Steve (Bradley Cooper) after a blind date. She then obsessively follows him around the country like a deranged stalker.
Her powers of irritation break the spirit of a busload of passengers, but being on the road does at least grant her the opportunity to meet a pair of fellow oddballs, who she realises are better-suited to her company than a chisel-jawed hunk.
Best: In This World (2002)
Genre-hopper Michael Winterbottom sandwiched this globe-trotting political drama between 24 Hour Party People and Code 46 . Shot in a documentary style, the fictional film follows young Afghan refugees Jamal and Enayatullah on their asylum-seeking journey from Pakistan to England.
The pair's picaresque passage is riddled with danger, and Enayatulla dies en route in an unventilated carrier ship. Winterbottom steers clear of traditional storytelling techniques, and draws affecting performances from his non-professional cast.
Controversial subject matter prevented the production from shooting in certain areas, but it's hard to spot the joins in this roughly-hewn adventure. Not pleasant viewing, strictly speaking, but never less than compelling.
Worst: Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008)
It's possible that you might have chuckled lightly during Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies , but, unless you were high, it's unlikely you were screaming out for more.
Well, John Cho and Kal Penn returned to play the hapless stoners in this sequel, which saw them banged up in Guantanamo Bay on false charges before they made their way home . The return journey took in magic mushrooms, a brothel and more Neil Patrick Harris (returning as himself).
It's a pretty stale re-run of the original, but despite the fact that Cho and Penn are moving up in the world (Cho bagged a role in Star Trek , Penn got a job in the White House), they're still planning to star in A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas in 2011, which is arriving in (God help us) 3D.
Best: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
A trip across the Aussie outback is at the heart of this comedy-drama.
Tick (Hugo Weaving) is a drag queen who agrees to appear in a cabaret show in a faraway location, so he sets out on the eponymous tour bus from Sydney with his fellows performers, Bernadette (Terence Stamp) and Adam (Guy Pearce). Some heavy themes arise during the journey, but the assured tone deftly matches heartache with humour.
There's obviously a fascination factor inherent in seeing the three famous actors 'drag' out, but thankfully the film is able to reach beyond curiosity value and drive some universal truths home.
Worst: To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995)
This next 'drag queens on the road' movie has little to offer beyond the fun of seeing stars Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo dolled up as moderately convincing ladies (which one do you find the most attractive?)
The trio depart NYC for a 'Drag Queen of the Year' contest, but their car breaks down en route at Snydersville. Despite the fact they are dogged by an intolerant sheriff (Chris Penn), they find acceptance and warmth in the local community, before heading off to the contest.
A string of knowing cameos only add to the feeling that To Wong Foo is ultimately lightweight and insubstantial, especially compared to its Aussie predecessor.
Best: It Happened One Night (1934)
This Oscar-snaffling 30s romcom recently enjoyed a limited re-release at the cinema, and it still holds up. Frank Capra's cross-country romance has been imitated countless times across the years: it even got a nod in Sex and the City 2 , which only served to highlight that movie's shortcomings.
Clark Gable and Charlotte Colbert are the pair who are reluctantly forced to travel together, with his reporter looking to score an exclusive story from her pampered heiress. Gable and Colbert apparently hated each other in real-life but that did nothing to dampen their onscreen chemistry (in fact it probably added to it).
The hitchhiking skirt-lift scene caused a stir in the 30s, and remains one of the iconic scenes in romcom road movies
Worst: Forces of Nature (1999)
Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock defied all odds in Forces of Nature , when they proved that they had absolutely zero chemistry together. Ben (Affleck) is due to be married, but when his flight home gets delayed, he's forced to travel with temptingly free-spirited lass Sarah (Bullock).
As well as being blighted by the transportation problems that seem to affect all movie travellers, the journey is also beset by extreme weather conditions.
There's appealing support from Steve Zahn and Maura Tierney, but unfortunately the movie never manages to generate enough interest in the characters who are in the eye of the storm.
Best: Midnight Run (1988)
This bounty hunter movie gifted Robert De Niro with one of his finest ever comedic performances. Before mugging his way through Rocky and Bullwinkle and Meet the Parents , De Niro was pitch-perfect as Jack Walsh, the man hired to bring in embezzling accountant Jonathan Mardukas (Charles Grodin).
Mardukas is wanted by both the FBI and the gangsters he ripped off, and it's up to Walsh to escort him from New York to LA, with the rival factions on their tail. Mardukas' feigned fear of flying prevents them going by air, and they persist in their ramshackle trot across the country by any means possible.
It's the winning chemistry between the twosome that really makes Midnight Run one that you'll continually revisit.
Worst: Serving Sara (2002)
Friends star Matthew Perry continued his run of less-than-stellar movies with this dreadful state-line crossing romance. Perry is a Joe, a process server who's tasked with presenting divorce papers to Sara (Liz Hurley, whose movie career was similarly struggling to climb out of the doldrums).
A solid support cast (Bruce Campbell, Amy Adams) are wasted in this convoluted affair, as Joe and Sara slowly start to fall for each other whilst darting between New York and Texas (the differing divorce laws in each state are pivotal to the plot).
Throw in a ploy to bag some of Sara's soon-to-be ex's fortune, and a rival server ( The Sopranos ' Vincent Pastore) out to stitch Joe up, and you've got a romcom more likely induce a headache then a bout of the warm and fuzzies.
Best: Zombieland (2009)
Director Ruben Fleischer struck big with his first feature film, a road movie that takes place in the aftermath of a zombie holocaust. Jesse Eisenberg is Columbus (we never learn his real name, just where he's headed), and along the way he falls in with Woody Harrelson's badass Twinkie-seeker Tallahassee, and Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin's resourceful sisters.
The undoubted highlight of the trip is the excursion to Bill Murray's Hollywood mansion. There's a sequel on the way, but they're going to be hard-pressed to top this hilarious moment, which was one of the scenes of the year.
The journey ends up at an overrun theme park, and showcases Zombieland 's ability to match the belly laughs with some properly intense zombie action.
Worst: The Hitcher (2007)
Platinum Dunes have torn their way disrespectfully through a number of horror classics ( The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , Friday the 13th , Nightmare on Elm Street ), and this remake was no less loathsome, despite the fact that Rutger Hauer's sinister car-pooler has slightly less recognition value than some more iconic bogeymen.
The dull remake features an out-of-place Sean Bean, who fails to generate the menace that made Hauer such a threatening adversary. Sexy teens Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton similarly fail to grab sympathy like C Thomas Howell's dorky driver.
Unforgivably squanders the simplistically creepy idea of having a stranger in your car.
Best: Road Trip (2000)
Before Todd Phillips was one of the world's most bankable comedy directors (recently finding success with The Hangover and mismatched-buddies-on-the-road comedy Due Date) , he scored with this likeably bawdy effort. Make no mistake, this is extremely low brow stuff, but it hits the spot if your after a dirty cackle.
Breckin Meyer and buddies (including American Pie alumnus Seann William Scott) travel from his university in New York to his long-distance girlfriend's residence in Texas to destroy evidence of an infidelity. Some of the gross-out gags misfire, but this has a fairly consistent strike rate.
It also makes the most of Tom Green, who was a megastar at the time, and showed early promise of Phillips' gift for spinning highly-profitable comedies from tired-sounding premises.
Worst: Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
Steve Coogan has always been a pleasure on the small screen. Alan Partridge has secured his place in comedy history (and other characters like Tony Ferrino deserve a mention), and recently The Trip has made compelling viewing. He's never quite been able to quite find the same consistency in the movies though.
This Jules Verne adap features a few nice lines from Coogan as Phileas Fogg, but the casting of Jackie Chan as sidekick Passepartout derails things, as the movie turns into a vehicle for his martial arts skills.
It also falls into the road movie trap of replacing a plot with a string of occassionally amusing cameos (Arnie as a foreign prince, Kathy Bates as Queen Victoria, Luke and Owen Wilson as the Wright Brothers), sapping the movie of any momentum. Tagalong Cecile de France manages to zest things up whenever she's on screen though.
Best: Thelma & Louise (1991)
Ridley Scott's girl power drama shows its age a bit now, but it has lost none of its urgency on the road, despite falling victim to any number of parodies surrounding that ending.
Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) go on the run to Mexico after killing an attempted rapist in the heat of the moment. Brad Pitt gave an early demonstration of his lady-melting abs, and Harvey Keitel brings a bit of unexpected sensitivity as the detective on the ladies' tail.
That it inspired the superb Simpsons episode 'Marge on the Lam' earns it even more respect.
Worst: Kalifornia (1993)
David Duchovny is psychology student Brian, and he bags a commission to write a book about serial killers in this unthrilling thriller.
When he decides to travel from Pittsburgh to California, he gets an extremely decent case study in the form of car-sharer Early Grayce. Turns out Brian and his girlfriend have accidentally agreed to travel with a serial killer and his partner, and it's unlikely they'll make it to the Golden State without some bloodshed.
There's nowhere near enough tension to make the silly premise believable, and both Pitt and Duchovny fail to convince in their roles. Things get ever sillier as the journey progresses, right up to a disappointing climax.
Best: On Tour (2010)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly star Mathieu Almaric's latest directorial effort, On Tour , hits cinemas this week.
Feted at Cannes, the movie stars Almaric himself as an audacious producer who brings an American burlesque troupe on tour through the promised land of Paris. Almaric has filled the cast with genuine performers, so amidst the troubles and travails associated with being on the road, there are some crackling, showy exhibitions.
You can check it out in cinemas from Friday...