Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Cinema Review)

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15 – 92mins – 1987



As part of a season celebrating the beloved films of John Hughes, last month Cinema City in Norwich screened this classic seasonal comedy – now 30 years old – from the iconic, late American filmmaker. While many make this Thanksgiving-set heart-warmer an annual tradition, this was only my second-ever viewing, and to see it on the big screen with a room of fans who laughed along uproariously to every gag like they were seeing it anew really enchanted me. My second viewing will NOT be my last.

Comedy giants Steve Martin and John Candy play two very polemic strangers who must overcome their differences, grimace through their fraying frustrations and team up to make it home by any means – and any mode of transportation – necessary in time to celebrate with the family on the fourth Thursday of November (which just so happens to be tomorrow!).

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Highly-strung New York ad-exec Neal Page (Martin) just wants a quiet, quick and stress-free journey, but when a freak snowstorm diverts his Chicago-bound plane to Wichita, so begins a reluctant-but-requisite three-day cross-country odyssey alongside chatty-but-clumsy shower curtain ring salesman Del Griffith (Candy).

Planes trains and automobiles.jpgP,T&A is a hilarious road movie of memorable misadventures with this comedic odd couple who – eventually – grow to tolerate and care for one another having shared motel rooms (and beds!) and swapped driving duty in flammable, mirror-less hire cars! While the character’s tension and fallout creates the film’s most frantic and funny scenes (most memorably one “fuck”-heavy rant which earns the film a ’15’ rating in one two minute monologue), it is the touching finale which elevates this well-rounded and compassionate comedy above the pack. Tissues at the ready, Planes… is no Thanksgiving turkey.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 4 stars

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