Starring the RV: Cinema and the Illustrious Career of the Recreational Vehicle

02 Aug

There are few members of Hollywood’s elite who have had such long and illustrious cinematic careers as the RV. Dame Maggie Smith, maybe, but the RV has essentially eclipsed every star of the silver screen. The RV transcends genres. It triumphs over typecasting. It only looks better as the years pass: it celebrated its 100th birthday this year, and the RV is more luxurious than ever.

The RV is an old and noteworthy cinematic staple, one who looks equally good in Technicolor and in Hi-Def. The best part: it’s not going anywhere. Keep your eyes peeled for a Winnebago coming soon to a theater near you.

The Many Movie Roles of the RV

As a vessel for self-reflection

About Schmidt

Movie: About Schmidt (2002)

RV: Winnebago Adventurer

For a malcontent like Warren Schmidt, nothing could beat cruising cross-country alone in the RV he and his recently-deceased wife purchased to try and stop his daughter’s wedding. It’s not until his return journey that he realizes that while he is utterly unsatisfied with his life, his dedication to a young Tanzanian boy he financially sponsors is a beacon on a lifetime’s worth of desolate, empty road.

Movie lines that should have been: There’s nothing quite like a solo road trip to realize you’re completely alone in the world.

A Finished LifeMovie: A Finished Life: The Goodbye & No Regrets Tour(2008)After 24 years of intensive drug therapy, Gregg Gour, who is HIV positive, decides to stop treatment and live out the last six months of his life travelling across the country: just him, his dog, and his Class C RV. It’s not as depressing as it might sound: Gour is all about living life to the fullest.

Movie lines that should have been: Hitting the open road ’til he runs out of gas.

Lost in AmericaMovie: Lost in America(2008)RV: Winnebago

Albert Brooks and Julie Haggerty abandon their pent-up corporate lives to travel cross-country and live the life of Easy Rider. But, after losing all their money in a fateful game of roulette and learning that “real life” isn’t quite as fun as in the movies, they head back to NYC. The grass, it turns out, is always greener on the other side of the tow hitch.

Movie lines that should have been: If Dennis Hopper could do it, how hard can it be?

As a Comedic Device

RVMovie: RV(2006)RV: Flxible Clipper Bus, Forest River Georgetown RV

Bob, who is losing touch with his once-close family, tricks them into going on a business trip disguised as an RV adventure. Pile in kids! Shenanigans ensue, including (but not limited to): a damaged parking brake, running over cars and shopping carts, a raccoon infestation, a clogged sewage system, car chases, and the RV sinking in a lake. But in the end, family wins. Of course.

Movie lines that should have been: Any time there’s an RV is about to fall off a cliff, you know it’s gonna be good.

The Long, Long TrailerMovie: The Long, Long Trailer(1953)RV: 1953 New Moon

Instead of buying a house, a pair of newlyweds (he a traveling civil engineer, she a blushing bride) hitch up to a 40-foot New Moon trailer and travel together. As luck would have it (and as any movie featuring Lucille Ball could predict) the couple barely makes it through their RV honeymoon. Cooking dinner in a moving trailer: check. Nearly driving off a cliff: check. Comedy gold: check, check.

Movie lines that should have been: If the husband can’t come to the home, bring the home to the husband.

To Display Wealth

Meet the Fockers Movie: Meet the Fockers (2004)RV: 2007 Pace Arrow

Would Robert De Niro as Jack Byrnes drive anything less than the finest RV on a road trip to Florida? Two woefully mismatched families try to bond for the sake of their soon-to-be-wed kids. Bohemian meets bourgeois and shenanigans ensue. No RV is spared.

Movie lines that should have been: Mine’s bigger. And shinier.

To Display Poverty

National Lampoon's Christmas VacationMovie: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation(1989)Nothing ruins family Christmas more than your backwoods, dilapidated-RV-lovin’ cousins. Cousin Eddie & Co. rolls in for Griswold family celebrations in his beat up, rusted out RV. Eddie is not the savviest road warrior (he empties the holding tanks into the Griswald’s storm drain) yet he has spawned a whole generation of cult followers, complete with RV Christmas ornaments, T-shirts and figurines.

Favorite Quote: That there’s an RV.

To Show the Future

Jurassic Park: The Lost WorldMovie: Jurassic Park: The Lost World(1997)RV: Customized Fleetwood

Replete with GPS, map-graphing capabilities, territorial dinosaur patterning, satellite phones, night vision goggles, lab table, computers, seat warmers, and a small refrigerator, there is nothing this super-RV can’t handle. Except a family of T-Rexes… those could be a problem.

Movie lines that should have been: RV, meet T-Rex.

As a Means to Salvation

Independence DayMovie: Independence Day (1996)RV: Winnebago

It’s the end of the world as we know it… Crop duster and former Vietnam fighter pilot and alien abductee, Russell Casse, rounds up his three children to flock to the Nevada desert as aliens destroy major cities around the world. It doesn’t matter what this RV can do, as long as it can go somewhere else.

Movie lines that should have been: Don’t make vacation plans for August.

They Can Be Tragic

Motorhome MassacreMovie: Motorhome Massacre(2006)RV: Argosy “Woody”

It’s all fun and games until a night-vision goggled, machete-throwing crazy arrives. Seven friends think heading to the backcountry in a vintage RV will be the trip of a life time. Spoiler: not all seven make it out alive.

Movie lines that should have been: This is the road trip to hell.

What Alice FoundMovie: What Alice Found(2003)It’s a coming-of-age story, and one that doesn’t come easy for Alice. Fed up with small-town life and an embarrassing family, she hits the road. Bill and Sandra, a couple celebrating retirement RV-style, seem like the family she always wished she had. That is until she realizes that Sandra is actually a prostitute who Bill drives around to various truck stops. As Sandra says: everybody’s gotta pay the bills. Your old family isn’t looking so bad now, eh Alice?

Movie lines that should have been: An RV is more than a place to sleep.

And Also Ironical

SpaceballsMovie: Spaceballs(1996)RV: Winnebago

In a not-too distant galaxy, Princess Vespa is kidnapped by the evil Spaceballs. Lone Starr: you’re her only hope. Sound kind of familiar?

Favorite Quote: We’ve gone into plaid.

StripesMovie: Stripes(1981)RV: GMC motorhome circa 1978

Dead-end job? Dead-end life? Join the US Army! Full of attractive women, great friends and rewards for unorthodox training methods, the Army is the place to discover your true originality. Generals will reward any unique go-get-’em spirits with thrilling, fun top-secret adventures – and your own RV turned combat vehicle.*

Movie lines that should have been: That’s no RV. That’s an Urban Assault Vehicle.

*This message is not endorsed by the US military or any of its affiliates.

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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Activities On the Road, RV Events


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