What would the Thanksgiving holiday be without turkey with stuffing, the Macy’s Day Parade and Planes, Trains And Automobiles (1987)? There are so few great Thanksgiving movies, but in 1987 John Hughes created a classic film that has only improved with the passing years.
For those of you who have missed this film, Neal Page (Steve Martin) is trying to get from New York to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving dinner with his family. Unfortunately, he has been brought together with traveling salesman, Del Griffith (John Candy), who with the best of intentions, constantly makes Neal’s trip a nightmare. Between bad weather, closed airports, robbery and every possible traveling disaster, this unlikely pair is forced to work together in order to make it back home in time.
It is hard for many comedies to remain fresh and funny over time. Most stories become old or tired, or perhaps other filmmakers continue to capitalize on the same premise, and we just feel as if we are repeatedly seeing the same film over and over again.With Planes, Trains And Automobiles, this couldn’t be further from the truth. After careful deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that the reason this movie has aged so well is because it simply is the perfect comedy film, but also has just enough warmth and tenderness to be a “feel good” movie as well.
To start, Steve Martin and John Candy are often considered among the best comedians of their time, and Planes, Trains And Automobiles stands out among their greatest movies, as well as some of their best roles. They are giftedly hysterical, and the film plays to each of their strengths, which of course only enhances the unforgettable chemistry that is overflowing from the screen. Every scene is completely filled with laughs, and now more than twenty years later, I still find that the hilarity brings tears to my eyes. Even the supporting cast, in small but unforgettable parts, can’t help but bring a smile to my face. Michael McKean, Dylan Baker, Larry Hankin and Ben Stein are wonderfully funny and make the journey more enjoyable for us all. I have to give a special thanks to Edie McClurg for her comedic gem of a role, as the rental car agent that will forever be embedded in my brain. It makes me laugh just thinking about how irresistibly amusing she is in this movie. Also, Kevin Bacon, in what I can only assume is the smallest role of his career, does so much to the overall feel of the movie when right at the beginning, without anything but his eyes and a smile, set the entire tone of the film. I am not ashamed to admit that this is my favorite Kevin Bacon performance.
I am not the world’s biggest John Hughes fan. I have seen all eight of his directorial movies and although I enjoy several of them, Planes, Trains And Automobiles and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) are the only two that I can watch with any regularity. His other films, although funny in an 80’s way, are difficult to get into if I am not looking specifically for an 80’s movie. Planes, Trains And Automobiles is funny any day, but specifically during the Thanksgiving season.
John Hughes not only directed this film, but he also was the writer and producer. He has said that the extreme amounts of film that he shot translated into a three hours rough cut of the film. The footage is still in the Paramount vaults, and although it would be quite an undertaking, I can’t help but wish and hope that someday there could be even more laughs in this story. Until that time, I will continue to enjoy Planes, Train And Automobiles in all of its beauty and splendor; I hope you do as well.Back to Home for More Reviews