Planes, Trains and Automobiles

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Steve Martin and John Candy Survive a Traveler's Nightmare

Nov 24, 2008 (Updated Apr 27, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Funny, entertaining movie.  Martin and Candy.

Cons:Little silly at times.  Some won't like one very vulgar scene.

The Bottom Line: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a wonderfully funny Thanksgiving movie that is still worth watching.  Fans of Steve Martin and John Candy should check it out.


Several movies have been made dealing with different holidays.  I think most holiday movies tend to focus on Christmas, but some of them deal with other holidays.  Plans, Trains and Automobiles is one of the few movies dealing with Thanksgiving that I've seen.

Two days before Thanksgiving, Neil Page was in New York City for a business meeting.  He was anxious to get on his way to the airport even before the meeting ended because he had a flight to catch so he could get home to his wife and children.  He had two cabs swiped out from under him and when he finally arrived at the airport, his flight was cancelled.  While waiting at the airport, he briefly talked to Del Griffith, the man who took one of the cabs.  Once Neil was able to get a flight, he was bumped to coach and ended up sitting next to Del.  Things continued to get worse as the flight was diverted to Wichita because of the bad weather in Chicago.  The two men ended up sharing a hotel room and the experience really annoyed Neil.  He just couldn't get away from Del and the two men ended up sharing a bizarre journey to Chicago.

There was a short scene after the end of the credits that I've never seen before watching the movie this last time.  The scene really wasn't anything important, but it did tie back into the beginning of the movie.

John Hughes, most known at the time for his movies dealing with teenagers like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, wrote and directed Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  The plot was fairly simple, with Neil's attempts to get home for Thanksgiving turning into a nightmare.  I wasn't bothered by the fact that the plot wasn't more complicated.  The story was original and mostly realistic.  Many people travel for the holidays and having weather related delays can happen, so that aspect of the story was very believable.  Some of the things that Neil and Del went through while trying to get to Chicago after the initial issue with their flight were more outrageous and downright bizarre, so some of the movie wasn't that believable.  Those unbelievable things are a big part of why I thought the movie was so funny and entertaining.

Thanksgiving was the catalyst for what was going on in Planes, Trains and Automobiles even though the holiday itself really wasn't shown that much.  Neil was very determined to get home for Thanksgiving and he talked about it a few times.  Very little else concerning the actual holiday was shown since the movie was focused on Neil's journey to get home.  Maybe Neil wouldn't have been as obsessed with getting home if the holiday wasn't involved, but that is just a guess on my part.  He did seem to act like he hadn't seen his family in a long time and he mentioned at one point how he had been traveling a lot for his job.  It was like the holiday helped Neil to realize certain things about his priorities.

I thought that Planes, Trains and Automobiles was a very funny movie.  Neil and Del ended up in some very unique situations while trying to get to Chicago that were funny.  Del said and did a lot of funny things that annoyed Neil.  The way the two men interacted, like when they were forced to share a hotel room, including the bed, was hilarious, especially when they woke up in the morning.  There were a few things done for humor, like how Neil discovered Del's soaking socks, that were a bit gross.  Basically everything that could go wrong on the trip did, which caused a lot of very funny moments.  They had to try several forms of transportation, none of which worked out like they wanted.  At one point they ended up with a hideous rental car that somehow survived a rather extreme accident.  Seeing them driving that car after the incident always cracks me up.  The scenes when Neil and Del were trying to deal with whatever odd situation they were in tended to be the funniest.  There were also a few more serious moments as well.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles was a mostly family friendly movie except for one scene.  During that scene, Neil was expressing his frustration with yet another aggravating situation.  He kind of flipped out - sort of in a Clark Griswold way - and used a form of the word that rhymes with luck eighteen times in one minute.  I did actually count the times it was used and then verified the count a couple of places online.  Normally, excessive profanity bothers me, but the way it was done in this movie didn't because it was just so funny.  I also thought that the way the person on the receiving end of his tirade reacted was perfect and hilarious.  That scene was the only time any forms of the word that rhymes with luck was used in the movie, though some other profanity turned up.  The movie was rated R because of that scene.  The rest of the movie was more family friendly, but parents probably won't want their children to see the R rated version of the movie.  When it airs on television that scene is edited.

Neal Page worked in marketing and based on what he said, he had to travel a lot.  He was a bit stressed about getting home and that did seem to get worse as his travel experience got worse.  He could be a bit judgmental at times, but he seemed like a nice guy overall.  Steve Martin was great in the part. 

Del Griffith sold shower curtain rings and also traveled a lot.  He was easy going about most things and didn't get worked up despite what was going on.  He could be messy and was nothing like Neil, which was a big part of why the men clashed.  Del frequently talked about his wife Marie and how important she was to him.  John Candy was great in the part.

No other characters were featured that much in the movie.  Neil's wife and children were shown in a few short scenes throughout the movie without really having anything to do.  A few people that Neil worked with were shown during a scene early in the movie and never seen again.  Everyone else was just in a scene or two as someone the men encountered during their journey.  

Main Cast

John Candy - Del Griffith
Steve Martin - Neil Page

John Hughes - Writer and Director

DVD Information

Planes, Trains and Automobiles has been released on DVD a few times.  I picked up the new I Love the 80's version a few months ago.  The disc had no extras, though this version of the movie did come with a music CD with four songs from the 1980's.  The movie does turn up on televison every so often.  Depending on which channel it is on, it will be edited.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles was a very funny, entertaining holiday movie.  It has held up well and is still worth watching.  Fans of Steve Martin and John Candy should definitely check it out.

This review is part of CaptainD's 2008 Good Movie Write Off.

Steve Martin Movie Reviews
All of Me ~ Bringing Down the House ~ Bowfinger ~ Cheaper by the Dozen ~ Cheaper by the Dozen 2 ~ Dirty Rotten Scoundrels ~ Father of the Bride ~ Father of the Bride Part II ~ Housesitter ~ Looney Tunes: Back in Action ~ The Muppet Movie ~ Novocaine ~ Parenthood ~ The Pink Panther ~ Roxanne ~


Recommend this product? Yes


Viewing Format: DVD


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