Tag: Pop Culture Travel

Backpacker Novels: A Conversation

Rolf Potts and Kristin Van Tassel discuss travel fiction and their essay, Sons of "The Beach"

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The Critics: ‘Due Date’

When I first wrote about “Due Date” a few months back, I compared it to the 1980s road trip classic, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” Now that the movie has arrived in theaters, many critics are drawing the same parallel—but the new flick, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, just doesn’t hold up when compared with “Planes, Trains.”

New York Magazine’s David Edelstein describes “a premise so wrung-out I’m bored recounting it—two viscerally mismatched people thrown together on a desperate road trip,” and the Christian Science Monitor’s Peter Rainer suggests that “if the comic premise of this film appeals to you, you’d be better off renting ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’.” Over at Slate, Dana Stevens adds: “It’s not that a reworking of this familiar material couldn’t be made funny again, but it would take a lot more imagination than this movie, directed by dude-comedy auteur Todd Phillips (‘Road Trip,’ ‘Old School,’ ‘The Hangover’), seems willing to put in.”

I caught the movie this weekend, too, and I was not impressed. The drive from Atlanta to L.A.—a road trip with plenty of potential—provided only a few miserly scenic shots, and while there was a handful of good laughs, too many of the jokes fell flat. I’ll give David Edelstein the last word:

At journey’s end, though, “Due Date” is less than exhilarating. It’s still a formula mismatched buddy movie that goes nowhere you haven’t been, happy to hug the Interstate, willfully oblivious to other roads and a more surprising—and even more riotous—world elsewhere.

‘Expedition Impossible’: Indiana Jones Meets ‘The Amazing Race’?

There’s a new travel-themed reality TV show in the works from “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett. “Expedition Impossible” will follow several three-person teams as they tackle challenges and solve problems while traveling through the wilderness areas of the world—Burnett calls it “an epic Indiana Jones-style experience.” So, fedoras and leather jackets all around? The show will air on ABC.

‘Hello Kitty’ Gets a Theme Park of Her Own

The new park, Hello Kitty Kawaii Paradise opened late last week in Tokyo. “Hello Kitty” creator Sanrio already had two theme parks devoted to Kitty and her friends, but Gadling blogger Leigh Caldwell notes that this is the first one where the famous cartoon cat flies solo on the marquee. So congrats, Hello Kitty, on having top billing all to yourself.

Around the World in 17 McDonald’s Placemats

Around the World in 17 McDonald’s Placemats Bob Payne

Call them McCultural Artifacts. Bob Payne has collected McDonald's placemats from more than 50 countries during his travels.

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The Birthplaces Road Trip

The Birthplaces Road Trip Photo: Chris Epting

From the Google garage to the future birthplace of James T. Kirk, Chris Epting goes looking for the spark of invention

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R.I.P. Barbara Billingsley

She most famously played June Cleaver on “Leave It to Beaver,” but we’ll always remember her for the scene she stole in Airplane! She was 94.

Travel Movie Watch Update: ‘127 Hours’

Just under a year ago we noted that “Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle would soon be starting work on “127 Hours,” the true story of Aron Ralston‘s canyoneering accident and escape. The trailer is here, and—among other things—it makes me want to book a flight to Utah as soon as possible. The movie’s due out November 5.

(Via Gawker)

Thoughts From the Amerika Section of a German Grocery Store

Cheese Zip By Terry Ward

Amid the Cheese Zip and the Marshmallow Fluff, Terry Ward remembers what it means to be American

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Marilyn Monroe’s Forgotten Banff Vacation

Move over, Crasher Squirrel: Banff just got a new tourism mascot. In 1953, Marilyn Monroe injured her ankle on a movie set in the Canadian Rockies and wound up at the Banff Springs Hotel to recuperate. A photographer from Look magazine documented her visit, but only two of his photos ever appeared in print—until last week, when they were released in a new book, Marilyn, August 1953. The Globe and Mail has a selection of photos from the book, all of Monroe in full tourist mode—posing with a taxidermied grizzly or riding a chairlift. They’re very cool, take a look.

Preppies Are Cocky Travelers

They may not even sit next to you on a plane if you’re wearing sweatpants. I learned this and other tidbits—one of them addressed to “Pookie”—from Vanity Fair’s excerpt of “The Official Preppy Handbook” reboot, True Prep. The travel section begins:

We travel, and we’re rather good at it. Some of us have traveled from a very early age, even if it’s been just back and forth from Princeton and Newport. We may travel to see relatives, to take a semester away, or to go to rehab. We go to Europe because it’s there, and there is so very much to learn from Europeans.

In Europe, we learn how to kiss people on both cheeks, how to do math when we convert the dollar into the euro, and how to make ourselves understood in adverse conditions. We get to practice the little bits of foreign languages we’ve retained from school, and to see that Italian men can carry off the sweater-around-their-shoulders look easily.

The travel section, along with the 15 Prep Travel Commandments, begins about halfway down the page.

Paris Hilton Channels Paul McCartney in Japan

Yep, the heiress followed in some famous footsteps today when she was denied entry to Japan because of a U.S. drug conviction.

As Gawker’s Jeff Neumann points out, she’s now a member of a rather elite travel club: “She joins Wings-era Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones on Japan’s list of druggie deportees.”

I hope she enjoys the moment—judging by this music video, she won’t likely see her name alongside McCartney’s and Jagger’s again anytime soon.

Jason Wilson Thought He Heard the Sound of the Apocalypse

The series editor of the Best American Travel Writing anthology details the unlikely moment in his new book, Boozehound. The Washington Post has an excerpt, and the moment in question goes like this:

I was chatting with a beautiful, sexy friend who wrote for a magazine that covers luxury spa vacations. She got that job, in part, because she wrote a travel book about bathing culture that one critic claimed “bred a new publishing hybrid, the beauty-travel memoir, Bruce Chatwin by way of Allure magazine.”

As we chatted, I shared some good news with her: I had just been hired to write a column for this newspaper about spirits and cocktails.

You should really meet my friend,” she told me. “He’s the perfume critic at the Times.”

“Really?” I replied. “Let me just see if I’m hearing this correctly. The luxury spa columnist would like the spirits columnist to meet the perfume columnist?”

Yes, she said, with a beautiful, sexy smile.

Wait, I said. Did you just hear that?


“Oh, nothing. I thought for just a second that I heard the sound of the Apocalypse.”

The entire excerpt is a great dispatch from the front lines of lifestyle journalism.

Travel Movie Watch Update: ‘The Tourist’

Sound familiar? That’s because we blogged this flick just over a year ago—as a thriller starring Charlize Theron and Sam Worthington. The movie’s due out in December, only the lead characters—a seductive Interpol agent and the hapless tourist who gets caught up in her schemes—are now being played by Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.

Here’s the trailer, complete with plenty of European vistas and on-the-TGV intrigue:

(Via the L.A. Times and Eli Ellison)

Travel Movie Watch: ‘Gulliver’s Travels’

We blogged about the adaptation when it was first announced a couple years back, and now the release date is in sight—“Gulliver’s Travels” is due out December 22nd. Here’s the trailer:

(Via Gawker)

‘The Amazing Race’ Ends Seven-Year Emmy Streak

The travel-themed show had won every year since the reality TV category was added. This year’s upset winner? Top Chef.

What Happens When CBS’ ‘Survivor’ Goes to Nicaragua?

For starters, the television company hypes the country’s “savage wildlife.”

A crew has been filming the next season of the hit TV show in the beach town of San Juan del Sur—it will debut on CBS next month.

Reports the Los Angeles Times:

Government officials apparently think “Survivor” could be good for foreign business investment and tourism, even though the CBS commercial for the show proclaims Nicaragua a land of “impenetrable terrain, smoldering volcanoes and savage wildlife.” (Savage wildlife? The mosquitoes?)

Yes, tourism to Nicaragua could skyrocket—and so could unfathomably horrific mosquito bites.

Travel Movie Watch: ‘Wanderlust’

Details are still thin on this one, but it looks as though the Judd Apatow comedy crew is turning its attention to travel. Wanderlust stars Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd as an “urban couple” who hit the road, aiming to “live a more counter-culture lifestyle.” Apatow is producing, while Rudd and director David Wain are collaborating on the screenplay.

David Wain also directed one of our favorite summer vacation movies, “Wet Hot American Summer,” and Paul Rudd is one of my favorite actors, so from where I’m sitting this looks promising. “Wanderlust” is due out in 2011. (Via Frank Bures)

The ‘On the Road’ Movie: It’s Really Happening, and Soon

When a couple of major casting decisions for the long-awaited flick were announced this spring, I remained skeptical about the project hitting theaters anytime soon. Turns out I should have been more optimistic: “On the Road” is filming now, in locations as far-flung as Montreal, New Orleans, San Francisco and New Mexico. Get the Big Picture’s Colin Boyd thinks it could be ready for Sundance 2011.

A number of heavyweights have joined the cast in supporting roles: Amy Adams, Viggo Mortenson, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Steve Buscemi and Terrence Howard will all make appearances. I’ll admit, I’m getting excited for this one.

‘Eat, Pray, Love’: Eight Great Links

The long-awaited adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” is in theaters at last, and it’s receiving no shortage of media attention. Here are a few worthy entry points.

Start with Jezebel’s brilliant “Eat, Pray, Love” bingo scorecard. If you decide to go see the flick—despite the advice of the underwhelmed World Hum Travel Movie Club—then be sure to bring one along. And if you’re still on the fence about the movie, this helpful “Should You See Eat, Pray, Love?” graphic may help.

The Daily Beast offers Eat, Pray, Love: A Man’s Guide—it’s a good read that focuses on the book rather than the movie—and the New York Post has a story on EPL-inspired guru devotees who’ve lost their shirts rather than finding enlightenment.

Our own Liz Sinclair wrote about her time as an extra on the “Eat, Pray, Love” set in Ubud earlier this year, while over at Jezebel again, Jessica Olien declares that Elizabeth Gilbert has ruined Bali. Finally, Pico Iyer compares the Bali that appears in the book with its big-screen cousin, and notes that “in the 26 years that I’ve been regularly returning to the island, rumors of its imminent demise have been as regular—and as long-lasting—as the full moon.” Indeed.