I am THRILLED to feature film correspondent and movie critic Tara McNamara on the blog today. I met Tara a couple of years ago on a trip to L.A. Her husband is actually my agent. (Who knew? I have an agent!) She’s a lovely person and a loyal supporter of the Elaine Turner brand.
Tara’s career in film journalism began when her 9-year old son Cole had the idea to start a website where all kids could be movie critics. They created and ran KidsPickFlicks for a decade before the site was acquired and Tara became the Editor-in-Chief of two other family and teen oriented movie review sites. (I love the entrepreneurial spirit in that she and her 9-year old son started a business together.)
As a movie commentator with expertise in family films. Tara is a “Today” Show “Reel Mom,” a featured columnist for Fandango, and is a contributor to multiple TV and radio outlets including “The Insider,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “Inside Edition.” She’s also served as a parent reviewer for Reelz Channel’s “Family Flicks,” the voice of Variety on Sirius XM, and one of CMT’s original VJs.
In this Q & A, Tara provides thoughtful commentary and recommendations on travel movies and several are appropriate for family movie night. So get out of the heat, pop some corn, and enjoy a good movie in the comfort of your home! XOXO, Elaine
ET: What are some of your favorite travel themed movies and why?
TM: Movies transport you to a different time, a different feeling, and sometimes a different perspective. But, there’s nothing like being taken to a different place! My favorite travel films are the ones which give you a taste of a location that ends up whetting your appetite to visit the place in real life. (For instance, Lost In Translation is indisputably a fantastic film but personally, it doesn’t make me want to visit Tokyo, so it’s not on the list). Here’s my list of the Best Vacation Inspiration Films:
Roman Holiday. Ready to fall in love? Audrey Hepburn’s first film ranks among AFI’s most romantic films – and it’s not just American newsman Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) and runaway Princess Ann (Hepburn) who fall for each other, it’s the viewer falling hard for Rome. The film displays all the must-see hotspots through the eyes of the sheltered English princess who is experiencing the Eternal City – and freedom – for the first time. The setup allows the viewer to see the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Coliseum, and the Mouth of Truth with the wonder of a young girl. No worries that this film was made in 1953: time marches on, but Rome stays the same.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013). Add Iceland to your bucket list. Ben Stiller’s remake is 100% inspiration with another 100% of aspiration. Mitty keeps his dreams of adventure in his head until his work ethic forces him on the road and into the rugged and jaw-droppingly gorgeous Nordic splendor. It’s a life-changing trip for Mitty, and this film, which leaves you full of possibility, just may lead you to your own life-changing trip.
Charade. Honestly, an entire list of travel destination movies could be made just from Audrey Hepburn movies. And, just like Roman Holiday, where we see all the beauty and landmarks of Rome, Charade traipses through the buildings, streets and parks of Paris. We see Notre Dame, Jardin des Champs Elysées. Arc de Triomphe and other Paris notables. However, to see Hepburn at the Eiffel Tower…you’ll have to watch her in a different Paris-set movie, which won’t be hard: she shot in the City of Lights in at least five other films.
National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets. History becomes far more exciting when a treasure hunt is involved, especially for families! These Nicolas Cage films make history zing in ways that makes viewers clamor to see landmarks like the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence. For kids, a trip to Philadelphia, D.C., Mount Rushmore and Mount Vernon can now be positioned as curiosity satisfiers rather than historical drudgeries. Thanks to Cage’s “Ben Gates,” I’m making a 10-hour/2 day diversion on my summer vacation just to go to Mount Rushmore and, hopefully, see that secret room behind the presidential noggins.
Blended. African safari sounds phenomenal. African safari with your kids sounds phenomenally nerve wracking. This Drew Barrymore-Adam Sandler comedy about two single parents who accidentally book the same room at a luxury African resort made me snort laugh and realize how awesomely fun it would be to experience wildlife with the safety net (and posh amenities!) of that same family-oriented resort, The Palace of the Lost City in Sun City, with my own family.
Holiday in Spain/Scent of Mystery. If you ever have a chance to experience this 1960 experiment, you must. It’s most notable for being the first and only film shot and distributed in Smell-o-Vision, and if you have a sensitive sniffer, you can actually sniff out the bad guy and solve the mystery before the big reveal. I was in the audience during a TCM Classic Film Festival screening and was surprised that the film is a travelogue comparable to an IMAX film, with sweeping panoramic views of Spain – specifically Andalucia, Pampalona and Granada – showing off the breathtaking beauty of the area and its culture.
Singles. Just try not being drawn to Seattle after seeing this Cameron Crowe romantic comedy. This 1992 film presents a perfect time capsule of life in Seattle during its height of modern day relevance, just as the city was giving birth to the grunge music movement and the artisan coffee shop revolution.
The Hundred-Foot Journey. As a married woman with children, this is my Eat Pray Love. Before meeting my foodie husband, I thought food was just for eating. I didn’t know that a forkful of a well-crafted dish could be artwork in your mouth! Now, we’re a family of five foodies and The Hundred-Foot Journey represents what we want out of a travel experience: exotic deliciousness. Sign me up for an eating tour of the south of France.
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