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The top 10 indie road trip movies


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A clever director can do quite a bit with little more than a handful of serviceable actors, a vehicle and an open road. In fact, David Lynch, Alexander Payne and Terrence Malick have all made films using these key ingredients.

Long car trips and rest stops in strange places can force friends and families alike to deal with unresolved issues in a variety of unpredictable ways, and that is probably why filmmakers love using them. (The changes of scenery and inherent narrative metaphors are also big selling points.)

The film world is full of fun and danger on the road, and our short list of favorite indie road trip films is a great starting point for anyone looking to get psyched up for a long drive. These are the ten flicks that get us the most pumped about stepping on the gas pedal, while simultaneously making us think twice about who is going to be riding in the passenger’s seat.

10. “The Road” (2009)

Director John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel certainly isn’t the most cheerful road trip film ever made. In fact, it’s bound to make you grateful for about every source of love and support you have ever had in your life. It’s bleak, and each scene has been flushed free of nearly any trace of vibrant color. Nevertheless, it is still a brilliantly made tale about the bond between a father and son.

9. “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004)

Robert Redford executive produced this film, which was based on Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s memoir of a continent-spanning trek with his friend Alberto Granado. Filled will heartstring-tugging human encounters and knock-you-out-of-your-seat imagery, it’s definitely a viable alternative if you can’t afford to do a South American road trip in person.

8. “Sideways” (2004)

Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack’s (Thomas Haden Church) last hurrah of a trip into wine country before Jack’s wedding turns into one bitter pill of a story. It’s a film that any socially awkward nerd (wine-savvy or otherwise) should be able to appreciate, though. “Sideways” took home am Oscar for its screenplay in 2005 for good reason—as much as these characters make you squirm, they really are vivid, true-to-life depictions of two guys in a friendship gone south thanks to deceit and significant personality differences.

7. “The Go-Getter” (2007)

Zooey Deschanel has played a lot of weird characters who get into out-of-the-ordinary relationships over the course of her career. That said, Kate’s rapport with Mercer (Lou Taylor Pucci), the kid who steals her car in ”The Go-Getter,” is by far one of Deschanel’s most unique on-screen interactions. Come to this film to enjoy her ability to act normal under irrefutably bizarre circumstances, but stay for the killer performance by Jena Malone.

6. “The Darjeeling Limited” (2007)

No one makes a film about family quite like director Wes Anderson, who sent Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) off to India to bond on a train, bus and motorcycle trip as they rediscover one another and negotiate a few cultural misunderstandings with the locals. In terms of slow motion scenes featuring Jason Schwartzman tossing flower petals, “The Darjeeling Limited” cannot be beat.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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