If you’re looking for a ton of laughs, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is the wrong movie. But if you’re looking for a nice, (R-rated) feel-good movie for the holidays, the 1987 classic starring Steve Martin and John Candy is perfect for you.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of laughs in this movie. How could there not be with Martin and Candy as the main characters?
But in my opinion, the humor is overshadowed by other parts of the movie.
For those who aren’t familiar with the film, it follows Neal Page (Martin), a straight-laced business man, as he tries to get home to his family for Thanksgiving.
On the way he meets, and gets stuck traveling with, the eccentric and obnoxious shower ring salesman Del Griffith (Candy), who smokes, tells long, pointless anecdotes and doesn’t respect personal space.
Watching this movie, what I felt the most wasn’t humor but frustration. In particular, the frustration of traveling in the modern era. From the delayed and canceled flights and tight, uncomfortable seating on planes, to the long, boring drives and the pain of dealing with other people, this movie captures all the hurdles many of us have to face to see our families each year.
From the “Odyssey” to “O Brother, Where art Thou,” there’s always something compelling, touching and incredibly human about a story of someone who’s just trying to get home.
To me, it’s the journey that steals the stage away from the humor. The story of two travelers who, despite their differences, grow to like and care about each other is just more compelling.
At about 90 minutes, the movie is just the right length and the more humorous parts are at just the right times, which helps keep the film flowing.
Speaking of humor, it would be a disservice not to mention some of those funny scenes. I think the best are when Neal and Del are forced to room and spend the night together, when they’re driving the half-wrecked, burnt-out car down the highway and when Neal finally reaches his breaking point with the woman at the car rental desk.
The absolute best part though is the twist at the end. If you’ve seen the movie, and remember it, you know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, find the time to give this movie a watch.