We’ve been on the road for a month now, passing through six countries, and we’ve slept for at least a night in eleven different cities and towns. Between stops, we have been on innumerable buses, each offering anywhere from one to three movies to distract from the hours of monotony. Mediocre is probably the best way to describe them as a whole, but a few gems stand out. On the off chance that you wanted a more in depth review, or are thinking of bussing through Central America yourself, here’s a run down of the types of films you can expect:
Weekend at Bernie’s 1989
A classic dark comedy that stands as proof of the irreparable damage that the 80’s had on rational thought in the U.S. Two buddies (one neurotic and the other amoral) keep people believing that their boss is alive long enough to uncover a mob conspiracy and have a non-stop party weekend in the Hamptons. It caught us off guard, which is exactly what a bus movie should do, on our first bus from Mexico to Puebla. And it made us want to see the sequel.
The Prince and Me 2004
I had actually seen this one on a bus before, but it was better the second time. An American farm girl falls for a Danish guy who turns out to be a prince, which brings up all sorts of issues. It’s a hard-hitting look at love, sacrifice, cultural differences, and acting proper. Props.
The Great Raid 2005
I thought this was Pearl Harbor for the first fifteen minutes and then never really gave it a chance. Or maybe it was the Dramamine, which kicked in just before we entered the slalom course between Puebla and Oaxaca. It was probably really good.
The Guardian 2006
This was the second-rate quasi-action stuff one generally expects on buses: a story of a dive rescue worker whose wife dies and is demoted to teaching cadets because he’s “losing it.” With Keven Cosner and Ashton Kutcher in the main roles, it was a weird mentor-pupil plot with too much swimming pool drama and not much else. Maybe I didn’t like it because it reminded me of swimming in middle school gym class.
The Color of Paradise 1999
An Iranian film by acclaimed director Majid Majidi was (yet again) an unexpected bus movie choice being that it was Farsi with Spanish subtitles on a bus full of English speaking foreigners. It’s about a blind boy whose dad is trying to get rid of him so he can marry a woman who doesn’t know he has a son. It was far too complicated and subtle to appreciate on a tiny screen five rows in front of you.
A romantic comedy that reminded us of home, for better or for worse. Will Smith is such an internationally well-known star that this is a no-brainer for a bus movie. Its almost too easy. It’s a bummer, though, that it portrays Americans as universally wealthy and incapable of interacting with the opposite sex.
Evan Almighty 2007
This was disappointing even for bus standards. Steve Carell turns into Noah and builds an ark to save all living things in the world from a (relatively) tiny flood in Virginia. It takes effort to not pay attention to a movie (in English) that you are forced to sit in front of, but somehow, it wasn’t so hard with this one.
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