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Blast from the Past Movie Review – “Planes Trains & Automobiles” (1987)

November 13, 2011

Thanksgiving themed films are quite a rarity. They don’t come out as often as Christmas movies do, but thankfully, there’s one out that is probably the greatest one of them all, and it stars Steve Martin & John Candy.

John Hughes’ “Planes Trains & Automobile”, was the director’s first departure of the teen brat pack scene, here he brings together two comedic giants of that generation (and still for today), Steve Martin & John Candy. An unlikely pairing, but a pairing many comedy fans had yearned for back then. Although this film is different for Hughes, in the sense that the problems aren’t teen adolescence or a coming of age tale, it’s simply a road comedy, who can be annoyed the most?

Businessman, Neal Page (Martin), teams with Dell Griffith (Candy), a shower curtain salesman, after hitting bad weather slump in the midst of the busiest travel week of the Holiday season. They try their hardest to venture back to Chicago just in time for Thanksgiving, along the way the men discover a little something about each other as well as themselves, what kind of men they are, and why they are the way they are.

Martin & Candy have a dynamic chemistry in this movie that’s the power play of the movies cult status in the Hughes-universe. It’s obviously the inspiration for the Robert Downy Jr. & Zach Galifinankis 2010 comedy “Due Date”. But, with “Planes Trains & Automobiles”, the movie finds a warm, sentimental spot that tugs on our emotional strings and makes us really care for the characters, no matter how screwed up they are.

It’s a simple formula for a buddy road movie, but it’s much more than that. And there comes in the incredible writing by John Hughes he’s always been crafty enough to show us the real nature of people, the funny side of it all, as well as the sad side of it. His true gift as a writer was finding the innocents in flawed people.

Obviously this one is a keeper and should be watched every holiday season, especially after you’ve dug into that turkey/stuffing. When your bellies are full from all that eaten, digest it away with a bowl of laughs in this classic 80’s comedy.

GRADE: A

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