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Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Daily Movie Review (28.12.2012)

Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Daily Movie Review (28.12.2012)

Review of Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) by director John Hughes

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (Blu-ray cover)Story:

Neal Page (Steve Martin) is a choleric marketing manager. On Thanksgiving he takes some time off to travel from New York to Chicago and visit his family. He soon runs into talkative Del Griffith (John Candy). By accident Del steals Neals cab and wants to make it up to him. The kindhearted but clumsy shower curtain ring salesman soon annoys Neal. Things go downhill when all flights are cancelled and both guys are stranded in Wichita. From now on Neal has no other choice but to travel together with Del. Both have to share motel rooms, put up with broken trains and deal with sullen rental car agents.

My Take:

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is based on a real trip that inspired writer and director John Hughes to this movie. It was a commercial success in 1984, making over 150 million US-Dollar with a budget of  just 15 million. According to actor Steve Martin Planes Trains and Automobiles is his favourite movie of his own career. And that is no wonder. This movie is the perfect example of a comedy that does NOT rely on crude jokes about body functions or sex. It’s so funny because it tells a hilarious story that could yet happen to anyone of us. And the characters are not just caricatures but actual personalities you really care about. One example is the famous scene in the motel room where Steve Martin shouts at John Candy’s character and deeply insults him. At first it’s funny but then you feel how Candy conveys real emotion, showing us that his character may be annoying but he is also a good guy who is very hurt.

And that is the strength of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It’s is so good cause it is a timeless buddy comedy where you actually care about the characters. Martin and Candy both bring their A-game here. The script by Hughes is very strong. All dialogue is extremely well written, with both subtle irony and drama. A movie like this could have been highly episodic yet everything Neal and Del go through seems perfectly logical. How they go down the ladder from planes, to trains, to coaches and automobiles…It all makes sense in this story.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles contains many memorable scenes that you will want to rewatch over and over. There is the famous “Those are not pillows!” moment for example :-). Dels’s fight with the seatbelts is also one of the funniest scenes in movie history. I will be honest: Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of my favourite comedies of all time and I’d recommend it to anyone. It is not just funny, it has a great script, great acting and also emotional depth. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

The Blu-ray on the other hand is not as perfect as the movie. Paramount has used a lot of digital noise reduction on this one. That means there is frozen grain in many picture areas and fine detail gets lost. Yes, the quality is better than the DVD but it’s disappointing. At least they kept all the extras of the DVD which are quite entertaining. There are a lot of vintage interviews with director John Hughes which are very revealing.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a heartwarming buddy comedy about the most unlikely friends. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry and it leaves you with the feeling that there is a lot of good in this world.

My Score: 10/ 10

P.S.: There is kind of an inofficial remake Due Date with Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. It is okay but not half as good as the original.

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