Blast From The Past: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
As I perused the list of the most popular films from 1987, I found that quite a few comedies littered the list. However, to review a few movies from the late 80's and not choose a John Hughes film would be a great injustice. With that, I chose a film that Hughes wrote, directed, and produced: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It starred Steve Martin and the late, great John Candy and showcased their characters on a truly mishap-filled adventure.
The film begins with Steve Martin's Neal Page waiting impatiently for a creative meeting to end just two days before Thanksgiving. He rushes to get to the airport on time but encounters obstacle after obstacle. Once he reaches the airport, his flight is delayed, and he is officially introduced to John Candy's over-the-top Del Griffith, a shower curtain ring salesman. Once boarded, Neal's day worsens as he is bumped from first class to coach and finds himself once again beside Griffith. A snowstorm grounds their plane in Wichita, leaving Neal and Griffith grounded and searching for a new way home. As they face every obstacle imaginable, Neal and Griffith become an unlikely duo racing to get home to their families for the holiday.
This is one of those movies that I'm ashamed to say I had never watched all the way through. It was released before I was born, and with the amount of language, I definitely was not allowed to watch it as a child. However, Steve Martin's meltdown at the rental car center alone made this worth watching. Martin and Candy's comedic timing is impeccable, and I was reminded of just how iconic both Martin and Candy are in the comedic realm. There were more than a few moments when I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the ridiculous circumstances they found themselves in or their reactions to each problem. No one performs a comical public meltdown quite like Steve Martin.
Also, I think this movie deserves a moment to commend the late John Hughes. He wrote and directed some of the most iconic films of that generation, and while he is usually recognized for his teenage coming-of-age films, this one is to be commended. This was a different type of film for Hughes but in some ways still a coming-of-age story. Neal's character arc is of a man who is so uptight and career-minded that he needs Griffith to force him to change. He learns a lot through this journey, and he certainly is a different man by the end of the movie, coming into his own. Also, the ending has that unexpected heartfelt twist that makes a movie memorable.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles may only come in around 90 minutes, but it's an hour and a half that will keep you laughing. Is it ridiculous and over-the-top? You bet; it wouldn't be an 80's comedy otherwise. However, we've all experienced a day or trip that did not work out no matter how hard we tried, and for that reason, this a story that is not only comedic but relatable. I do hope none of us ever have a car ignite in flames during a road trip, though. Nevertheless, if you need a good laugh and don't have little ears around, take a trip back to 1987 with this classic comedy.