Planes, Trains and Automobiles Cover Don’t you find public transportation a rather peculiar affair at times? Well, just think about it for a moment or two, the way that this form of communal haulage system, herds people back and forth all day long, as if they were some sort of livestock! No? Then it must be just Director: John Hughes; and Actors: Steve Martin and John Candy. Specifically in the year 1987 and for 93 minutes.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

All marketing executive, Neal Page (Steve Martin), wants to do, is catch the first flight back home, to Chicago, just so that he could spend his Thanksgiving with his loving family.


PLANES: OK, now under normal circumstances, this would be a rather simple thing for him to accomplish. However, Neal does not find himself under 'normal circumstances' you see. He has some difficulty catching a cab to the airport, and then he discovers that all the flights heading towards Chicago, are being rerouted due to averse weather conditions.

So what is he going to do now?

Well, thankfully, shower-ring sales representative, Del Griffith (John Candy), is at hand to help Neal out. And he does this by irritating the f*ck out of him, whilst at the same time trying his best to guide his travels back to salvation, obviously, with a certain level of mirth.

TRAIN: After spending a rather strained night together in a hotel-room, Del manages to get for both him and Neal, two train tickets for a train that is heading in the direction that they both need to go. Unfortunately, though, whilst on the train – the train is halted in its tracks – and Dale and Neal have to try to make other arrangement next.

AUTOMOBILES: Due to happenstance and fate, Neil decides that he and Del should part company – because he has some need for some solace and plans to drive home by himself in a rented car. But alas, this solo-venture does not work out so well for him – i.e. Neal is f*cked – and in more ways than one too. Still, as luck would have it, Dale’s and Neal’s cross paths once more, this time with Dale driving a rental car, and Dale lazing in the passenger seat.

Well, that is until – by accident... errr... hmm... BOOOM!

Wait up! Calm down! There is no need to go worrying your pretty little head off – Dale and Neil don’t die! Instead, they find themselves driving a burnout husk of a car, just long enough for a patrolman to quarantine their ‘vehicle’ on route.

Though, that is why what next transpires is a rather uplifting affair all in all. As transportation is acquired – recollections are inspired – and Thanksgiving needs one more seat at the table.

Now amidst my time as a budding ‘tech-head’, on numerous occasions I have found myself travelling from pillar to post, just so that I am able to tend to my trade. Moreover, during this time, I have had to take many forms of transportation too, such as a boat, a plane, a bike, a coach, and in one case, a canoe. And do you know that every time I have had to travel, that this specific movie always springs to my mind! Well, 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' is a film that has captured my heart, as well as being a flick which has eaten into my very  psyche.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Poster

You see, in essence, this movie is a multilayered piece of cinema, packed to the hilt full of fun-fun fun. For example, on a certain level it is a funny story – and tells a simple tale of a mans turbulent journey, to get back home to his family. Next, one another level, it is a buddy movie – and captures a charm and grace of two diametrically opposed people, in a situation that is beyond there control. After that, on yet another level, it has a satirical stance also – and is able to poke fun out of everyday situations in a rather refreshing manner. Plus, on top of that, level-level-level, it solidifies two comedic giants, John Candy and Steve Martin, at the top of there game – and for that you have no need for an explanation.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Art Poster

OK, so should I end my review there? Because you must have gathered by now that I really like this movie. But no – I won't do that – I want to tell you more, such as: (1) Total Film magazine voted it the 10th greatest comedy film of all time. (2) This film was both a financial and creative success, catapulting actors, Steve Martin and John Candy, plus director, John Hughes, into infamy and beyond. (3) Both Kevin Bacon and Michael McKean made cameos in this film, and it also helped elevate their careers too. (4) The film, 'Quicksilver', influenced the Kevin Bacon / Steve Martin race scene, because Kevin was in it. (5) The Marathon Car Rental scene is exactly one minute long from the time Steve Martin begins his f*ck tirade, and he says the f-word 18 times. (6) Most of the inept transportation systems depicted in this film had to be 'rebuffed', because no 'real' transportation system wanted to be associated with this project. (7) The exterior of the delayed flight, flying through the storm, was taken from the comedy movie 'Airplane!'. (8) John Hughes wrote the first draft of this film in three days, and was inspired to do so because a flight that he was supposed to be on, from New York to Chicago, was diverted to Wichita, Kansas. And (9) Sometimes I cry at the ending.

Steve and John in Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Listen now – don’t you laugh – I am not a sap. Heck, I can laugh my way through Bambi if I want to! Still, for some strange reason, there is something about ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ that just makes me... errr... emotional.

Maybe it has something to do with John Candy’s death? Because he seemed like such a nice chap. Or then again, maybe it is because I miss seeing Steve Martin being so funny? Because his most recent spate of films – aren't. Or better yet, maybe it is because this film captures a spirit of partnership and adventure that has long been forgotten? Belushi and Ackroyd, Laurel and Hardy, and Abbot and Costello. As you can plainly see, in this film, Martin and Candy do not ‘playing off of each other’, as some actors do – but rather ‘feed of off each other’, as most great comedians do.

Well, come on, lets face it, great double acts are very rare to come across in this more modern day and age. Granted, there are one or two that I could mention – but by in large they are a rare commodity. Why is that I wonder? Hmmm? Not the ‘in thing’ at the moment I suppose? Too ‘metro-sexual’? Or is it something to do with the type of talent that has come out in recent years?

Who knows? Steve? You, got anything to add?

Anyway, as for this film – this great-great film – if you have not watched it before, you should give it a go now. Try to think of it as a Laurel and Hardy classic done in an eighties style with a touch of farce thrown in for good measure.

Great buddy movie – perfect travelling movie – and always worth a watch.


PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES Reviewed by David Andrews on October 13, 2011 Rating: 5
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