Movie Review: “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”

These are trying times, but there is still plenty of goodness in this world, and we as a human race will collectively continue to make a brighter future, because the alternative is simply out of the question.

What does the previous statement have to do with film and this movie in particular? Well, many of us are of the firm belief that a great piece of art can help change the world, and in its own way, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” is such a piece of art.

Directed by the great John Hughes, this marked a slight change of pace for an iconic filmmaker known primarily for his teen angst-filled high-school-set dramadies of the ’80s. Sure, there are plenty of moments in “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” when odd couple Neal Page and Del Griffith (played beautifully by Steve Martin and John Candy) act like children, but make no mistake — this movie provides quite the emotional suckerpunch to the gut in the final act.

Neal is increasingly irritated by Del throughout much of this spirited film, but by the end of their epic road trip, a heartbreaking truth brings out genuine compassion in Neal. It’s this sense of truth and compassion that elevates this pitch-perfect comedy to classic status. Aside from all the unforgettable laughs, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” is truly required viewing because it shows the very best of our humanity.

The willingness to help one another in a time of need is a human trait that we must always hold on to, and while this particular theme has been explored in many films, it is ultimately the heart and soul of the cinematic gem that is “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”

So this Thanksgiving, be sure to cuddle up next to the folks you love and take in a viewing of this quintessential Turkey Day classic. A word to the wise, though: If you have kids with you, forward through the infamous rental car scene. It offers up what is arguably the most effective use of the “F” word ever committed to film.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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