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Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) - Film Review

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love John Hughes’ 1987 comedy PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES. It is arguably the best comedy of the 1980’s and in my opinion, one of the best comedies ever!! This film isn’t just funny, it’s got heart and a depth to both of the main characters that you identify with immediately. Steve Martin and John Candy are not simply acting, they are totally absorbed by their characters, and we in turn are absorbed by the film. PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES makes you feel frustration, anger, and despair and at the same time it will make you snort with laughter.

Neal Page (Steve Martin) is an advertising executive desperate to get home for thanksgiving. When flights are grounded due to bad weather, somehow Neal ends up blessed with the company of blabbermouth shower-ring salesman Del Griffiths (John Candy).
As they desperately try to get Neal home in time for his thanksgiving turkey, they make the worst of every bad situation. Neal is a sensible, somewhat boring character while Del is a talkative but loveable drifter who wears his heart on his sleeve. As tensions rise between the two, we share both in Neal’s frustration as Del grates on his nerves and also in Del’s desperation to be accepted. There is a scene in The Bravewood Inn which is both hilarious and incredibly touching. To make a comedy with such heart and tenderness whilst still keeping the laughter flowing is true genius.

This is my favourite John Hughes film. Martin and Candy are both on top form and with the exception of one scene, this film is comedy perfection. The scene in question is a car rental scene and although Neal’s angry tirade only lasts 60 seconds, the F word is used 18 times. This was totally unnecessary and although it didn’t bother me, it means that I cannot watch it with my young daughter which is a shame. Otherwise, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is perfect family entertainment. The humour crosses generations and can be related to by all ages. We have all felt frustrated and annoyed by someone’s company, and we all know the crushing feeling of loneliness. Because of this we relate to these two complete opposites as they bumble their way from one mess to another. For once, a real laugh out loud comedy, enjoy!!

PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES (1987) Director: John Hughes. Writer: John Hughes. Cast: John Candy, Steve Martin, Laila Robins.

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