Hollywood loves a road trip.
Know a couple of brothers who need time to bond and get to know one another after years apart? Send 'em on a road trip. Need a gimmicky way to illustrate independence and resiliency? Road trip. You a bounty hunter who has a soft-heart? Go on a road trip with your prisoner, and become a better person for having the experience.
Used effectively, a road trip is a terrific metaphor for personal growth. We start out one place, and end up in another. New York to LA, insecure to confident. Boston to Texas, grief to acceptance. And along the way, lots of car chases, explosions and occasional road kill...
...Except in Transamerica.
Felicity Huffman plays Bree Osbourne, a transsexual struggling with patience. Only a few days remain before her gender reassignment surgery, and she is worried something will occur to prevent the surgery from happening. And something does happen; out of the blue Bree receives a telephone call from someone claiming to be her son, a son she unknowingly fathered years ago when she was known as Stanley.
Quickly, Bree and her son begin a trip across the country, with LA as their destination. Bree is scheduled to have her surgery there, and her son hopes to get into the film biz, thinking it will solve all of his problems. Along the way, of course, the pair learn to trust one another, resolve several problems and learn to live with challenges they can't overcome.
The movie is stripped down to a bare minimum. No real soundtrack, no special effects or car crashes. Not many surprises. Transamerica is just a intimate story about two people who find themselves as they struggle to understand each other.
And they do it on a road trip.