10 Pop Culture RV Nightmares
Hitting the road in an RV is one of Hollywood’s favorite American dreams—but on the big screen, that road can be a bumpy one. If you're thinking about investing in a home on wheels like the families on Great American Country's Going RV, get inspiration from a few of pop culture’s most disastrous RV adventures. (More of a lesson in what not to do.)
The late Robin Williams charmed his way through one road trip disaster after another in this 2006 comedy, playing a busy executive who drags his family to a business meeting in an RV and calls it a vacation. Along the way, the Munros deal with raccoons, faulty parking brakes, backed up sewage systems and a family of fellow travelers who seem just a bit too eager to make new friends. The trip literally peaks when Munro gets the RV caught on a boulder—but his indestructible ride comes through in the end, and the family comes out stronger, too.
From Dusk Till Dawn
The Fullers’ innocent vacation goes south—literally—in this 1996 cult film. When two fugitive bank-robbing brothers (George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino) force a pastor and his kids to smuggle them across the border in their RV, none of them expect to wind up in a strip club full of vampires. By the time the night is over, just one fugitive and Fuller’s daughter, Kate (Juliette Lewis), are left standing. Where’s Buffy Summers when you need her?
In their quest to stop a bitter villain from taking over the world, Pixar’s beloved family of superheroes takes just about every form of transportation out there—including an RV. The ride gets off to an unconventional start, as the family flies the RV into the city with an assist from Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), but as soon as they land on the interstate, Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) are bickering about exits like any other couple. They might be driving straight into battle with a deadly robot, but some things about road trips never change.
Lost in America
The nomadic lifestyle just isn’t for everyone. In this 1985 comedy, Albert Brooks and Julie Hagerty play David and Linda Howard, a pair of Los Angeles yuppies who, after David is fired, decide to drop out of society and hit the road in an RV. Their adventure hits a speed bump when Linda loses all of their savings in a Vegas casino, and the pair eventually find themselves working way below their means in Arizona. Sadder but wiser, they decide to head to New York and rejoin the world.
The Long, Long Trailer
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz kickstarted Hollywood’s love affair with RV trips in this 1954 classic about a couple of newlyweds who decide to spend a year on the road. Unprepared to haul such a long trailer, the pair wind up tipping it over in the mud, backing it into her relatives’ rose bushes and injuring themselves in an attempt to cook dinner. The weight of the trailer nearly drags down their marriage, especially after a treacherous trip up a mountain, but they find their way back to each other just in time.
We’re the Millers
Here’s one way to ensure that a family road trip gets off to a bad start: Hire a fake family. When marijuana dealer David (Jason Sudeikis) is forced to smuggle a stash from Mexico, he recruits a stripper, a runaway and the neighbor boy to make his RV trip look less suspicious. Their illegal activities set off a domino effect of disasters, including a broken radiator hose, an angry cartel and one very chummy tarantula. And although David eventually turns over his dealer to the DEA, the “Millers” don’t exactly go straight.
When a lonely retiree (Jack Nicholson) still reeling from the death of his wife decides to take their new RV to his daughter’s wedding, nothing goes as planned. In this bittersweet 2002 film, Schmidt’s roundabout trip takes him to his old campus and through his hometown, where he finds that his childhood home has been torn down. He’s rejected when he hits on a married woman, and the mother of his daughter’s soon-to-be-husband hits on him. Adding injury to insult, he throws out his back when he spends a night on his future son-in-law’s waterbed. RV beds have never looked better.
Community (“Basic RV Repair and Palmistry”)
Genre-hopping sitcom Community hit the road in its sixth season when the gang piled into an RV and set out to sell a huge plexiglass hand. But RV owner Elroy (Keith David) failed to top up the gas to account for his extra passengers, whose obsession with charging their phones drained the vehicle’s battery and left them stranded. Naturally, every tow truck driver in the area was busy at the same holiday parade. Stuck by the side of the highway on a cold night, the gang found plenty to fight about, but that giant hand brought them all together in the end—even if they never did find out why the Dean (Jim Rash) bought it in the first place.
It wouldn’t be a story about Area 51 without an RV. In this 2011 comedy, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play two Brits whose road trip to San Diego Comic-Con takes an unexpected turn when they meet an alien, Paul (Seth Rogen), in need of a ride. Pursued across the desert by the Secret Service, the unlikely trio take a woman hostage, start a bar fight and wind up in an explosive standoff with the government. A few lives are lost along the way, but Paul’s journey home makes for one killer tell-all novel.
As if a family road trip weren’t stressful enough, top it off with a couple of criminal hackers and one large St. Bernard. Richard Newton (Judge Reinhold) just wants to give his wife and kids the RV trip of his dreams, but his brother’s dog, Beethoven, has to hitch a ride. Mishaps ensue, and the family blames Beethoven, not realizing that the dog is only out to protect them from a pair of hackers who keep trying to steal a DVD from the RV. But when Beethoven saves the family and catches the hackers, it’s a dog’s life in the end.