Case of the Mondays: Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Article by Aaron Haughton
You think you've had a rough day?! Well, it could always be worse. For instance, you could be traveling with Del Griffith, perhaps the most obnoxious slob of a salesman ever committed to celluliod.
Planes, Trains And Automobiles is one of the many John Hughes classics and marked a noticeable and welcomed change in the filmmakers style. Hughes, having been labeled as as a "teen angst filmmaker" up until this point, crafts a fantastic adult-themed road film chock full of slapstick absurdism and the typical John Hughes heart. It's perhaps Hughes' last great directorial attempt and should really help you feel dandy after a long, tough day.
Steve Martin and John Candy give superb performances (both in a comedic and dramatic sense), and the film is peppered throughout with wonderful supporting roles that will have you doubled over in a heartbeat. Take Edie McClurg's cameo (which is one of my personal favorites), for example:
As is typical of the disaster film, nothing seems to go the right way for our protagonists, and the road film genre allows Candy and Martin to meet interesting character after interesting character, bumbling their way from one hilarious calamity to the next. This not only keeps the film fresh, but allows Candy and Martin's characters to bond over time; at first begrudgingly, then genuinely.
Ironically enough, no transportation company wanted to appear inept or deficient in any way, which called for massive workarounds during shooting. Crews had to rent twenty miles of train track and refurbish old railroad cars, construct a set that looked like an airline terminal, design a rent-a-car company logo and uniforms, and rent 250 cars for the infamous Rent-a-Car sequence. Not to mention that Steve Martin's character's house needed to be built from scratch, costing a total of $100,000 (that's 80s money!) and taking 5 months to complete, even though the house only appears in a handful of scenes.
Hughes reportedly was inspired to write the film after his flight from New York to Chicago was diverted to Wichita, Kansas, which ended up taking him five days to get home, and he wrote the first-draft of the film in only three days. We've all been on a delayed flight or have had some kind of mishap whilst traveling, which makes this film highly relatable. Add in the undeniable comedy and chemistry of Candy and Martin, and the gushy, feel-good vibes that only Hughes is capable of concocting, and you got yourself a damn-near perfect film.
Rating: 5 screaming devil visions out of 5.
What do you think? Were does Planes, Trains and Automobiles rank on your favorite Hughes films? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and, as always, remember to viddy well!