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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Nov 22: Planes Trains and Automobiles


Nov 22: Planes Trains and Automobiles

"A man must struggle to travel home for Thanksgiving, with an obnoxious slob of a shower ring salesman his only companion."
Directed by: John Hughes, Rated: R, 93 minutes

When you think of Thanksgiving and movies, one film comes to mind- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. The John Hughes classic of 1987 has become a staple for the holiday and continues to be one of the only films worthwhile come Turkey Day. The two reasons behinds its success are Steve Martin and John Candy, two legends of comedy that are indeed, national treasures. It's a film for the ages and is as quotable as it is memorable.

Believe it or not, these are actual statues of the two legends and remain in that exact spot to this date. 

Neal Page is a marketing man who lives in Chicago and works in New York. He's wound up tight, picky with food and living accommodations  and travels first class. When his flight home is grounded in Wichita because of snow, Neal must find an alternative way to get home in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately for him, Neal continues to run into the obnoxious, chatty Cathy, Del Griffith (John Candy). Reluctantly, Neal agrees to ride along with Del (he promises to get him home in time) and the two's adventure across country turns into something much more problematic than you'd expect. From broken down trains, to sing-along-buses, and riding in the back of a milk truck, Neal and Del suffer through it all...together. Getting home proves damn near impossible for Neal and as much as he'd like to drop the "dead weight" and find his own way home, he somehow manages to fall right back into the lap of Del.

Or find himself the little spoon to Del's bigger, gravy-filled ladle.

Steve Martin and John Candy have flawless chemistry and manage to make you laugh, uncomfortable, and even cry. Both men have things about them you don't like right away, but as their layers are pulled back time and again, you learn to sympathize for them. Neal learns to relax and that everything isn't as simple as going from point A to point B and Del realizes that maybe not everyone wants to hear his stories and that he needs to cut back a bit on the obnoxious habits he has. While neither men have their lives changed, they do learn a lot about themselves and each other along the way. Lucky for us, it's a hilarious ride(s) around the country and each ridiculous situation is topped by the next. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a film that focuses on both physical and verbal comedy and its blend proves to be something timeless. It's smart and original, and it's been parodied and referenced countless times in its 25 year history. 

Even ripped off with the God-awful, piece of shit Due Date

If you haven't seen Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, shame on you. It's the perfect example of two legendary talents coming together under the direction of a master in John Hughes. Hughes' script is genius and organic, and while some of the situations Neal and Del find themselves in may be a bit over-the-top, it never feels forced. Neal is destined to orbit around Del and their constant eclipses give the film a boost of energy and humor. At its heart it's a story about two completely different men trying to work together to achieve a common goal, even if they're pulling away at each other to the extreme. Their entire adventure is a joy to watch and I would highly recommend the film. It's a movie that's pulled right out of the 80s, with a synthesized bass-y soundtrack, easy public transportation, and an overall laid back aesthetic that still manages to feel relevant today and continues to do so.

The Good:
seeing a story play out that's unexpected, relatable, and oh, so hilarious
The Better:
Steve Martin and John Candy... enough said
The Best:
comedy at its best, from those who do it best- simple and effective

Overall: 9.2/10

Discussion Question:
Do you have any funny stories to share about any unconventional travelling or rather obnoxious co-travelers?


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At November 22, 2012 at 11:34 PM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

As I do every year, I watched this last night before Thanksgiving began. It is a perfect set up for the holiday season. We are laughing at the familiar holiday travails, crowds, airports, money trouble and a lot of grouches who turn the holidays into hell. And then we are gently reminded what the holidays are really all about, our humanity. Along the way there are at least four huge guffaws, a dozen chuckles, and even more warm smiles of gentle amusement.

As for travel stories, here is one for Thanksgiving. In college one year we traveled from Southern California to Seattle by car for a debate tournament.Thirty hours on the road without a overnight stop to sleep. I got to ride in the Mercedes that belonged to the Dad of one of the other guys on the team, very comfortable seats. One girl ate nothing on the trip but grilled cheese sandwiches because she was afraid of any food that might make her sick. When the thirty of us on the trip sat down in the restaurant together on Thanksgiving, it was nice to be among friends but it was the first time I was not home for the holiday. A fun memory but I'm afraid not very funny. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

At November 22, 2012 at 11:37 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Haha. Glad to see you share your story Richard. I always like to hear about what you think and where you have been. You also made me crave a grilled cheese sammich, even when I am as full as I am now. Hope you had a great holiday!!


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