Steve Martin (All of Me) and the late, great John Candy (Splash) star in this holiday travel adventure from 1987, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. This comedy is rated R, and was written and directed by John Hughes, who happens to be one of my favorite writer/directors (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Home Alone). It is notable for being a funny, yet moving film focusing on the relationship of two strangers trying to get home for Thanksgiving.
Steve Martin plays Neal Page, a marketing executive flying home from New York to Chicago to be with his wife and three children. John Candy is Del Griffith, a shower ring salesman who befriends, or should I say latches onto, Neal.
The O’Hare airport is closed due to blizzard conditions, and Neal finds himself stranded in Wichita with Del. Their journey across the frigid Midwest is filled with complications, and yes, all modes of travel are utilized, including buses and catching a ride in the back of a semi-truck headed to Chicago.
Neal finds Del to be the worst possible company, and their relationship has its ups and downs throughout the tale. Neal begins as a levelheaded, nice man whose patience is tested, and we watch as he ultimately succumbs to being the difficult traveler we wouldn’t want to meet. Del proves to be ingenious when trouble appears, and ultimately a nice man, someone you’d like to be friends with, even if only for his loyalty.
I like this film because it makes me laugh out loud, the ending brings a tear to the eyes, and because the two comedians do such an excellent job portraying the many emotions that arise on their cross-country journey. I also can’t recall many films lately that feature two men (not two women, or a man and a woman) making their way through a situation that tests them individually and as a team, and we see each of them grow by the end of the film.
Look for an early cameo by Kevin Bacon, and keep the tape playing once the credits begin to roll. I just let it keep playing as I regrouped after the film listening to the music, and was treated to a funny little segment at the end of the credits, something I think you’ll also enjoy.