Motorhomes of The Movies

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The potential for adventure and occasional misadventure on the open road is a frequent source of story fodder for Hollywood screenwriters. From It Happened One Night to National Lampoon’s Vacation to Road Trip, audiences love movies set on the road. Over the years, this growing genre of cross country cinema has led to a sub-genre of movies involving motorhomes.

Visually speaking, recreational vehicles are good for storytelling; they provide a constant interior space with an ever-changing exterior environment. This allows for dynamic, unpredictable action without compromising the emotional benefits of scenes set in a familiar place.
We can’t help but think the increase in motion pictures involving RVs is reflective of the growing popularity of recreational vehicles. The rate of motorhome loans and financing has gone up in the last several years, thanks in part to bargain rates offered by motivated lenders. In an industry where assured audience is increasingly desired, this trend has undoubtedly influenced tinsel town’s rate of green lighting scripts involving RVs.

Whether opting for something modern or a model on the more retro side of things, if the RV culture calls to you, don’t pass up on becoming familiar with one if not several movies involving a recreational vehicle. Upon spending enough time in motorhome parks and reading online RV forums you’ll soon discover watching these films are somewhat of a rite of passage. Just a warning, that doesn’t mean these movies are any good.

The RVs depicted in them, at least, are worthy of mention:

Coachmen Encounter, We’re the Millers (2013)

In this comedy, the titular Millers are in fact a band of unrelated folks attempting to smuggle two tons of marijuana in an RV across the Mexican-U.S. border. Coachmen understandably wasn’t interested in overt product placement, but RV aficionados had no problem identifying the motorhome featured in the film as the company’s Encounter model.

1980s Winnebago/Fleetwood Bounder, Paul (2011)

For this alien oriented comedy from the makers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, two different motorhomes were utilized during filming. Exteriors depict a Winnebago model from the early 1980s, while interiors were shot inside the Bounder model made by now defunct Fleetwood Enterprises.

Forest River Georgetown 359 TS, RV (2006)

What seemed like the proverbial film involving motorhome travel, RV proved to be a huge disappointment to audiences and critics alike. However, this comedy starring the late Robin Williams has a bit of a cult following among RV owners across the United States. The motorhome used for filming was a Georgetown model 359 TS manufactured by Forest River. Despite the zany antics associated with the vehicle, the Georgetown has seen an increase in popularity in the years after the film’s release.

GMC Motorhome, Stripes (1981)

It’s not really a road movie, and definitely not an “RV movie,” but we wanted a classic film to make the list. In Stripes, a hapless schmuck played by Bill Murray joins the army after a series of unfortunate events, and eventually winds up in the middle of a military project in Europe. Central to the silly scheme is the “EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle” which is, in fact, a modified 1976 GMC 26 Palm Beach Motorhome. The EM-50 is seized by the heroes to travel from Italy to West Germany, where their girlfriends are stationed.

Moviegoers appreciate the road trip story on the silver screen, even into the 21st century. The resulting sub-genre of RV-related movies are in need of a modern day classic, but the few decent ones are worth watching for anyone thinking about buying their own recreational vehicle.

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