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USA 1987
Directed by
John Hughes
93 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Writer/director John Hughes made his mark with neatly packaged, family-focussed Hollywood comedies and Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a good example of his work.

Steve Martin plays salesman Neal Page, a typical comfortable middle American suburbanite on a flight from New York to Chicago heading home for Thanksgiving. He pulls a seat next to Del Griffith (John Candy) a good-natured but annoying shower curtain-ring salesman. Their flight is diverted to Wichita, Kansas after a snowstorm hits Chicago and so a road trip from Hell commences.

The basic premise is familiar but thanks to writer-director Hughes’s droll script and Martin’s and Candy’s performances the film is more than a typical stringing together of odd-couple gags but is rather an amusing Capra-esque homily on showing love and kindness to your fellow man. For the most part Hughes keeps the sentimentality under control although the treatment of Neal's wife (Laila Robins) who is shown pining for him as if he were lost in Rockies is borderline bizarre in its over-statement, the film culminating in a hyperbolically mawkish reunion to the strains of the '80s classic pop song "Every Time You Go".

The plot seems to have a couple of considerable holes in it as Neal manages to buy two train tickets and later, hire a car with no cash or credit card  One also wonders, was Del supposed to be responsible for the missing "V5" rental car. It would be consistent with everything else that befalls Neal but this does not eventuate. And, finally. where, when everything he started with was trashed en route, did Neal get those good clothes from when they finally arrive at their destination? 

These issues niggle slightly but not enough to interfere with the overall enjoyment. 




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