Wrong Side of the Road, Part II

Last week, my editor accused me of fobbing Hollywood road movies off on you in lieu of a real article. Far from it! Instead I’m fobbing movies from countries where they drive on the left — definitely not Hollywood. I’m saving that for when I crash and am stuck in hospital for weeks. Now, please enjoy Steve’s list of Great Road Movies from the Wrong Side of the Road, Part II.

One of darkest and funniest cult movies of all time is Withnail and I, a Handmade Film (George Harrison’s company) shot in the ’80s but set in the dying days of 1969, when swinging London had pretty much swung out. Two desperately unemployable actors interrupt a 60-hour speed binge to take a vacation in the country. A pity to withhold, their badly beaten up S-type Jaguar is perhaps the only bigger wreck than themselves. Their hilarious drive up and down the M6 to England’s Lake District is mythical if for no other reason than the highway didn’t yet exist during the story’s telling. Richard Grant’s performance as the very anti-hero Withnail is among the greatest on film. Indeed, he’s spent the past 24 years trying to live up to it. Our younger readers will recognize Richard Griffiths, Harry Potter’s nasty Uncle Vernon, who plays Withnail’s gay Uncle Monty, who’s hell bent on buggering the story teller, “and I.” Unlike most Hollywood comedies, Withnail and I continues to be funny and repulsive with subsequent viewings.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is your typical drag-queens-rent-a-bus-and-drive-across-the-outback offering, made a decade before another Australian made that cowboy movie. Mel Gibson probably wouldn’t approve of the subject matter but you certainly don’t have to be gay to enjoy this painfully funny road story gone magnificently wrong. A brilliant cast includes Hugo Weaving (our nerdier readers will know him as Elrond and Agent Smith), Guy Pearce and the legendary Terence Stamp.

Okay, ‘great’ may not describe this choice accurately. Released in 1997 before the cast had their faces stapled and backsides vacuumed, Spice World features the Spice Girls crossing the UK in a double-decker bus plastered with a union jack. The aforementioned Richard Grant plays their manic manager à la Withnail, but he stinks. Semi-literate performances from Kid in the Hall, Mark McKinney, and Norm from Cheers sink this bad laugh further. So why’s Spice World here? My old friend and long time DailyXY reader Marsh said years ago: “The Spice Girls are hot. Especially the chunkier ones.” It’s worthy of your time if you’re ever stuck at a cottage in the rain with a case of beer, or on the tarmac for hours with nothing else to do.

Image courtesy of chnupper.

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