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Best Movies About Vacations Gone Wrong, Ranked

Having experienced various lockdown regulations and extensive travel restrictions for the better part of 2 years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere are understandably keen to visit their favorite vacation destinations. Given current circumstances, an impromptu getaway is very likely a high priority for most of us. Whatever your vacationing style happens to be—whether it’s relaxing on a beach, mountain climbing, or backpacking through Europe, or something more low-key with friends, family, or partner(s)—a vacation is meant to relax, share new experiences and enjoy the company of your travel companions.

Unfortunately, despite your itineraries, preparation, and good intentions, things don’t always go as planned. Cars break down, luggage gets lost, and flights get delayed. These problems, however, sound remarkably less unpleasant than predatory dinosaurs, lethal kidnappings, deadly rapids, or being stalked in the remote wilderness. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of the best movies about vacations gone wrong, ranked.

Related: Best Road Trip Movies, Ranked

9 National Lampoons Vegas Vacation

Jerry Weintraub Productions

Vegas Vacation is the fourth film in the National Lampoons film series. Having finally earned the cash bonus promised to him in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Clark decides to take his family to Vegas. When they arrive, Ellen is courted by lounge singer Wayne Newton, Audrey begins hanging out with cousin Vicki and her exotic dancer friends, and Rusty acquires a fake ID and poses as high-roller Nick Pappagiorgio. Worst of all, Clark becomes addicted to gambling and loses all the family’s money. When Clark finally realizes he has lost sight of what is important he tries to bring everyone back together. The film series ultimately inspired an HBO series spinoff and a reboot film starring Ed Helms.

8 Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Hughes Entertainment

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles pairs comedy legends Steve Martin, and the late John Candy as Neal Page and Del Griffith, respectively. Page is a high-strung marketing executive on his way home to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Along the way, he encounters Griffith, a traveling salesman. The pair continue to cross paths en route, and despite being polar opposites they eventually form a friendship.

The movie was a hit amongst film critics who praised John Hughes for graduating from teen comedies and embracing an adult comedy. The film has become a thanksgiving classic amongst audiences.

7 Due Date

Warner Bros.

Due Date stars Robert Downey Jr. as Peter Highman, a man traveling from Atlanta to Los Angeles for the birth of his first child. While on the plane an obnoxious fellow traveler Ethan Tremblay (Zack Galifianakis) gets added to the no-fly list for talking about bombs and terrorists. Peter subsequently joins Ethan on the no-fly list by mistakenly swapping bags with Ethan, who had cannabis in his luggage. Ethan invites Peter to join him on a road trip to which Peter reluctantly agrees, for lack of better options. Along the way, the pair get into some trouble such as a physical altercation with a Western Union employee, an accidental gunshot wound, and escaping lock up at the Mexican border.

6 The River Wild

Universal Pictures

On a family rafting trip in Idaho, Gail and Tom Hartman (played by Meryl Streep and David Strathairn) and their son Roarke (Joseph Mazello) meet another group of rafters, Wade (Kevin Bacon) Terry (John C. Reilly), and Frank (William Lucking), all of whom seem friendly enough. The following day they meet the same group, but one of the three men is missing, Frank, the duo’s river guide. A former guide herself, Gail offers to help Wade and Terry to the next drop-off point. Little do the Hartmans know, the pair have recently robbed a cattle auction and intend to hide on the river to evade police. The duo holds the family hostage and forces Gail to guide them down the river at gunpoint through treacherous rapids.

5 Jurassic Park

Universal Pictures

In the original Jurassic Park, a wealthy businessman John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) and a team of scientists bring dinosaurs back from extinction, to form a fantastical theme park. John’s grandchildren Tim (Joseph Mazello) and Lex (Ariana Richards) are invited to visit the park with various other people including paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Things go terribly wrong when the dinosaurs escape their enclosures and hunt down the park visitors. Jurassic Park spawned 4 sequels: The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III, Jurassic World, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and a fifth sequel Jurassic World: Dominion is slated for release summer 2022.

Related: 10 Wild Animal Movies That Will Keep You Out of the Woods Forever

4 Breakdown

Dino De Laurentiis Company

Breakdown tells the tale of a husband and wife Jeff and Amy Taylor (played by Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan) who are moving from Massachusetts to California. Rather than fly, the pair decide to take a road trip in their new Jeep Grand Cherokee. En route, their vehicle breaks down, and Amy accepts a ride from a stranger to a nearby diner to call for help. Jeff soon realizes that the battery had been tampered with, he reconnects it and immediately sets out to look for Amy. Upon arriving at the diner, no one has seen her or the vehicle she was in. Jeff begins to investigate her disappearance with the help of some locals and soon comes to realize she is being held for ransom. According to The Guardian Breakdown is a streaming gem.

3 The Vanishing

20th Century Fox

The Vanishing is a remake of George Sluizer’s 1988 french-dutch film of the same name. The movie begins with Jeff Harriman (Kiefer Sutherland) and Diane Shaver (Sandra Bullock) a couple on vacation together. When the pair stop at a gas station, Diane goes in for drinks while Jeff waits in the car. Diane, however, never returns but rather disappears without a trace. Diane’s mysterious disappearance happens within the first 10 minutes of the film. The rest of the movie is set 3 years into the future and follows Jeff’s insatiable desire to find out what happened to Diane on that fateful day.

2 Deliverance

Warner Bros.

Deliverance is a shocking thriller starring Jon Voigt, Burt Reynolds, the late Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox as a group of friends from Atlanta, who decide to canoe down a river in the Georgia wilderness before a dam is constructed. While taking a break in the woods, Ed and Bobby are confronted by two hillbillies with a shotgun. The pair forces Bobby to undress and rapes him. Lewis discovers what is happening and kills the rapist with his bow and arrow. After the horrific incident, the men must decide how to deal with the murdered man and his armed companion who ran off into the wilderness.

1 Thelma and Louise

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon star in Thelma and Louise as two friends who head out on a weekend adventure to a friend’s fishing cabin. Thelma (Davis) is disenchanted with her home life and is anxious to let loose. While en-route to the cabin the pair stop at a bar for drinks, where Thelma is approached by a man named Harlan. After a few dances, the pair step outside so Thelma can get some air at which point Harlan attempts to rape her. Louise (Sarandon) intervenes and after a heated altercation, shoots Harlan dead. The rest of the movie follows the pair’s misadventures while on the lam from the law. According to The Guardian, the film holds up even 30 years later.

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