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Spoiler Free Review for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Title: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Date: 1987

MPAA: Rated R for language and a brief sexual image

Director: John Hughes

Starring: Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins

Synopsis: Trying to get home in time to spend Thanksgiving with his wife and kids, an advertising executive is rerouted to a distant city in Kansas because of a freak snowstorm, and his sanity begins to fray. Worse yet, he is forced to bunk up with a talkative curtain ring salesman, whom he finds extremely annoying. Together they must overcome the insanity of holiday travel to reach their intended destination.

With Thanksgiving one day away, I thought I would talk about one of, NO the only good Thanksgiving movie out there, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. The film was directed and written by the one and only John Hughes. Hughes is known for creating timeless classics that can speak to many generations and different ages of people. Almost everyone can relate to his films in some way. Not only has he directed classics like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but he has also wrote other classics like National Lampoon’s Vacation, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone. That’s a lot of great films!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles stars Steve Martin and John Candy and follows Steve Martin’s character, Neal Page, an advertising executive who is on his way home to Chicago to try and make it in time to be with his family on Thanksgiving. Things go terribly wrong for Neal and he is forced to drag a long John Candy’s character, Del Griffith, an annoying, obnoxious shower ring salesman. The two characters make a great comedy duo, with Steve Martin being the straight-man to Candy’s funny-man. But like all the great comedy duo’s both actors pull off laughs which is only expected from two comedy legends like Martin and Candy. Out of the two actors, I would say Candy pulls off the best performance. While watching this film, you will see that there is more to Del than just an obnoxious goof. He has this hidden darkness and complexity to him and Candy really pulls off the emotional complexity of his character. You can see it in the small moments like watching his face as Neal is yelling at him in the hotel room for making too much noise while they are trying to sleep. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Emma Stone actually stated that Candy’s performance really inspired her as a comedic actress and opened the world to her as far as comedy acting goes. It’s very cool to see that Candy has continued to inspire working actors thirty years later.

Even though this film is rated R, it never seems too vulgar or raunchy. It is for the most part a family film, but contains one scene involving Neal cussing out a rental-car company worker (I’ve certainly been in that situation) that involves 19 f-words. Even though that might seem like an abrasive amount of swear words, it makes sense why they are placed there and is used for comedy purposes that end up making the scene one of the more memorable in the entire film. Even though this film can be viewed as just a straight-up comedy, it also focuses on the meaning of Thanksgiving, which is giving, helping others, and being with your loved ones. There are a lot of sweet moments in this film that really balance it out, and in return, allows it to stand out from other comedies that are similar to this one.

Overall, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, is a fantastic comedy involving great lead performances, wonderful writing, and a great message. This is a good film to watch with the whole family, as long as everyone is ok with the one scene with the f-words. If you haven’t seen this film, than you must watch it at some in your life. It can make you laugh, cringe, gasp, and maybe even cry. It’s a shame very few comedies are made like this anymore.

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