The Road Movie Book

By Steven Cohan; Ina Rae Hark | Go to book overview
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Yuppie critique and the buddy-road movie in the 1980s

Ina Rae Hark

Dean drove from Mexico City and saw Victor again in Gregoria and pushed that old car all the way to Lake Charles, Louisiana, before the rear end finally dropped on the road as he had always known it would. So he wired Inez for airplane fare and flew the rest of the way.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Linda: The movie you're basing your whole life on, Easy Rider, they had nothing, they had no nest egg.

David: Bullshit! They had a giant nest egg. They had all this cocaine.

Linda: That's not true.

David: It is true. Linda, they sold cocaine.

Albert Brooks, Lost in America

In the space of a little more than a year, from November 1987, to December 1988, three buddy-road movies appeared in theatres: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), Midnight Run (1988), and Rain Man (1988). They shared a number of elements, beginning with the same master narrative: One buddy is a self-involved man with a distaste for intimacy who is battling a deadline to achieve some highly desired personal goal. For reasons that will become clear shortly, I will call him the “high flyer.” The other man, whom I will label “the neurotic, is as apparently deficient in capitalist/masculinist qualities as the high flyer is in excess of them. Either truly mentally handicapped or simply fussy, nagging, and feminized, the neurotic and his personal idiosyncrasies initially drive his companion to distraction; they also interfere with the expeditious completion of a cross-country trip necessary to accomplish the first man's goal before the deadline expires, putting them both on a road filled with many detours and also eventually cutting off any access to financial reserves. Gradually, however, commitment to the previously scorned road companion becomes more important to the high flyer than making the deadline or closing the deal.


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The Road Movie Book


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