Ask Reel Life with Jane: What Makes a Great Travel Movie?

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Dec 14, 2011 / 0 comments

Movies and tv - they bring us so much joy, teach us, allow us to explore worlds other than our own. However, it's difficult to wade through the morass of movies and tv shows that aren't so good, and find the gems. One site that I've found, Reel Life with Jane, is like a personal movie and tv concierge! Jane Boursaw shares movie and tv reviews that are family-friendly and right on target. She's one of my fellow contributors to A Traveler's Library (check out her review on The Way, about the Camino de Santiago). Yesterday, I read 20 Cool Things about the Adventures with TinTin, and now we're making plans to see the movie. Jane is that good - honest, true reviews that help you decide what (and what not) to watch.


Jane Boursaw, Reel Life with Jane



We caught up with Jane (who lives in one of my favorite cities, Traverse City, Michigan), and asked about her site, inspiration, travel movies, and more. Here's what she had to say...



WE: Please tell us about Reel Life with Jane...

JB: Reel Life With Jane is home base to my syndicated family movie and TV reviews, as well as my online magazine, where I post celebrity interviews, family movie/TV news and trailers, DVD reviews, op-eds, posters, movie stills, film festival news, awards seasons buzz, and much more.


Jane Boursaw, Reel Life with Jane



WE: What was the genesis of your site and business?

JB: After writing for hundreds of print and online publications for many years, including Variety, People Magazine, Moviefone and others, I decided to focus on building my own brand and syndication business. Because I’ve been able to design the business to my own liking, it’s truly a job where I get up every day excited to jump into work and bring readers great info on family entertainment options.


I also have kids of my own, so I’m passionate about helping adults make good choices for the kids in their lives. It’s no secret that there are lots of bad movies and TV shows out there. I want to make sure families get the scoop on those, as well as the good ones. 



WE: What inspired your love of movies and tv?

JB: I grew up on a cherry farm on the Old Mission Peninsula, near Traverse City, Michigan, so we spent lots of time outside working on the farm. When night-time rolled around, we relaxed by watching TV – shows like The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek and The Waltons.


We also had a great downtown theater – the State Theatre, which was recently restored as a home base for the Traverse City Film Festival. When I was a kid, we saw movies like The Love Bug and Mary Poppins there. So all of that set the stage for my love of movies, TV and pop culture.



WE: What are your favorite travel movies, and what makes for a great travel movie?

JB: Mamma Mia! made me want to fly to Greece so I could see the gorgeous Agios Ioannis Chapel for myself. The Way is a great travelogue about the history of the Camino de Santiago, told through the eyes of a grieving father Martin Sheen. And I wish I could have tagged along with Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris. You can tell when filmmakers really love a place, because it becomes another character in the movie, but the best travel movies don’t forfeit story for place. They include both.


Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris


But a great travel movie doesn’t have to have a flashy European setting. Sometimes the smaller movies with close-to-home settings can find a place in your heart, too. I’m thinking of films like Bagdad Café, which celebrates the joys of a remote truck-stop café and motel in the Mojave Desert. Or Seven Days in Utopia, about a young golfer who finds peace in small town in Texas. Or Flipped, Rob Reiner’s love letter to 1960s small-town America. These are the kinds of movies that can leave a life-long impression.


I wouldn’t count animated movies out of the travel film game either. A good example is The Secret of Kells, which intertwines the story of Ireland’s Book of Kells with gorgeous Celtic folk art. Kung Fu Panda 2 did the same for Chinese culture and history, and Rango is a wonderful celebration of the American Southwest.






WE:  Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

JB: Thanks so much for the opportunity to broaden my reach with your readers. Anyone interested in syndicating my family movie and TV reviews in their print or online publication, please visit my Info for Editors page. For interviews and publicity, please visit my Press Room.



WE:  Thanks, Jane, for this wonderful (and inspiring) interview! We've learned a lot from your site, and found many new tv shows and movies to watch and learn from. We highly recommend Reel Life with Jane to our Wandering Educators!


For more information, please see:



Photo credits:

Rango credit: Paramount Pictures

Midnight in Paris credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Jane Boursaw photo: Scarlett Piedmonte, Photography by Scarlett