Planes, Trains and Automobiles ★★★★

If you don't cry when Steve Martin comes back for Candy at the train station, you're a fucking robot.

Only caught about forty-five minutes of this on Comedy Central while eating Thanksgiving dinner. But it still made me laugh my ass off and moved me to the verge of tears. I will write a full review next time I sit down and give it the attention it deserves.

Happy Thanksgiving, gang!

EDIT: I actually went back and watched my DVD of this late Thanksgiving night, after the kids were in bed and while my wife and her mother were plotting out their Black Friday attack. And while it isn't a perfect film, it's got more heart than almost anything else that John Hughes ever made. Steve Martin and John Candy have a great, refreshingly realistic relationship. I love that Martin and Candy never really become best buds. Up until that heartbreaking, life-affirming final scene, there's always a realistic level of animosity between them. This movie has a lot more to say about social class division than I recalled, with Martin representing the upper middle class and Candy representing a more blue collar social strata. That was also a nice dynamic for the movie to play around with.

God, I miss John Candy. Almost every bit of the sizable heart this movie has comes from his layered, carefully observed and astoundingly nuanced portrayal of a nice guy who happens to be a slob and a chatterbox. Candy's Del Griffith is the sort of guy who'd give you his last dollar, but also obliviously uses another man's credit card when he finds it in his wallet. He's a captivating, somewhat tragic character and he and Steve Martin's Neal Page emerge as genuine human beings, not just sketches.

However, most of the circumstances these great characters find themselves in are a tad too cartoonish. Hughes is great at characters but isn't the best at crafting situations for them. That's probably his biggest flaw as a filmmaker, and it brings this movie down a notch. I'm not as big a fan of this film as Roger Ebert was, but it does have a lot to recommend it (Steve Martin's symphony of f-bombs deserves to be in a comedy hall of fame somewhere, and it might be the funniest moment in the film) and it does have a great, heartbreaking/warming ending.

All in all, it's probably the best Thanksgiving film to date.

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