Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) Film Review

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles upon first viewing has already jumped into the list of some of my favorite comedies of all time. Neal Page (Steve Martin) is trying to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving from New York City on business. And everything that could possibly go wrong, goes absolutely wrong. Del Griffith (John Candy) accidentally starts these chain of events by taking Neal’s cab. Steve Martin plays a perfect, slightly cynical, cold-hearted man who loves his family. Candy is amazing as an over-bearing but nice man who has a past that nobody really knows about. The plot set-up sounds fairly typical, Del Griffith and Neal end up traveling together throughout the film as things continue to get worse and worse. It isn’t an original plot-set up by any means but it’s the execution and the heart of the film that makes it work so well.

The scenes are continuously outrageous, over the top, and only emphasized by Candy’s performance who is absolutely ridiculous but a completely heartfelt character. Everything is 100% genuine in this movie. Sure, it could be called a bit overly sentimental by the end of the film but sometimes sentimentality…works. Trust me, I hate when things get overly sentimental, it’s cheesy and typically bad but this movie does it so right. As each outrageous scene builds upon each other, we believe it, and then at the end, I still buy into the gooey, heartfelt center of the movie in those last somewhat revealing twenty minutes even if it’s somewhat obvious as to how it’ll probably end when watching it.

It’s hilarious, plain and simple. I found myself laughing pretty much right from the start and continuously laughing throughout. My particular favorite scene is Steven Martin completely losing it at the car rental lady (Edie McClurg) which I actually bothered to mention the actress’s name because she was also in Ferris Bueller as a secretary and is a great character actress. As soon as I saw her on screen, I knew it was going to be a great scene. If anything, it’s hilarious, if the overly sentimental stuff doesn’t work for you, it might not matter just because it’s filled with plenty of laughs. For me, it’s a perfect film/comedy.

5/5 stars.


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