Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
With legendary guru John Hughes in the director’s chair, and funnymen Steve Martin and John Candy in front of the cameras, Planes, Trains and Automobiles had all the potential in the world to be great… and thankfully, great is just what it is. It’s arguably the best thing that any of these guys put out in the eighties, if not their careers.
We follow laid back Del (Candy) and highly strung Neal (Martin) as they meet, maintain a love/hate relationship, and try to make their respective ways home across the United States for Thanksgiving, and it’s full of great scenes and fantastic exchanges between the two leads. It’s been several years since I’ve sat down in front of the movie, but I’ve seen it enough times that I can rattle off entire swathes of dialogue without missing a beat.
Del: You play with your balls a lot.
Neal: I do not play with my balls.
Del: Larry Bird doesn’t do as much ball-handling in one night as you do in an hour!
Neal: Are you trying to start a fight?
Del: No. I’m simply stating a fact. That’s all. You fidget with your nuts a lot.
Neal: You know what’d make me happy?
Del: Another couple of balls, and an extra set of fingers?
As great as it is – and it is one of my favourite comedy films – I’m glad it never spawned a sequel. I’m sure the temptation must have been there, because it would have been very simple to shoehorn another road trip out of these characters without making it look like a cash-in, so I applaud the restraint.
Similarly, I certainly don’t want to see it remade, as seems to be the Hollywood model in recent years. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the perfect storm of acting talent, story, and humour, and it’s very difficult to think of a couple of actors who would even come close to matching the performances of Martin and Candy.
On a side note, I have heard rumours of a four hour director’s cut of the movie that was (obviously) too long for release… but that is something I would like to see one day.