Classic of the Week: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)


Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a 1987 American comedy film written, produced and directed by John Hughes. It stars Steve Martin as Neal Page, a temperamental marketing executive, who meets Del Griffith, played by John Candy, an extremely positive, outgoing and chatty shower curtain ring salesman. They engage in three days of misadventures trying to get Neal home to Chicago from New York City for Thanksgiving with his family.

This film is definitely laugh out loud funny. I put it right next to Groundhog Day and the National Lampoon’s films in misadventure comedy. There is one disaster after another. But, in just those three days of bad luck, a friendship is formed. Neal becomes a friend to Del, whose wife had passed away and he had no one else in his life. They fight and hate each other at first, then become pals in the end. Neal decides  to invite Del to his house for Thanksgiving, so he doesn’t have to spend it alone.

This is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Martin and Candy are a terrific pairing in this film, both perfect for their roles, both equally funny and unique. Neal is a high strung businessman and Del is an annoying jabber mouth that sales shower curtain rings and lies saying they are valuable to make more money. Both men are complete strangers when meeting and have almost nothing in common, but over the few days they spend together, they bond, through good and bad, mostly bad. Selfish Neal learns to think of others in need and not to judge others either after meeting Del.

Though this is a comedy film filled with catastrophes, it still has powerful messages, to always learn from mistakes, never judge others, always put others first and to help others that are lonely and/or in need. This is a film that will never cease to make to you laugh and in the end, make you smile. A truly great movie. 18+ 4.5/5


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