Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
The quintessential Thanksgiving and road trip movie.
This was one of my families favorite comedies as I grew up and I have seen it more times than I can remember, and laughed so hard at many of its jokes that then turned into inside jokes with my sisters. "Those aren't pillows!"
Watching and analyzing it now, I see that it is not perfect, but is still really effective at what it aims to achieve.
The plot focuses on Steve Martin as he tries to travel home from New York to Chicago for Thanksgiving, but basically nothing goes right. He has to haggle to get a cab to the airport, only for John Candy's character to take of with it in the process. His flight gets delayed, and then reroutes him to Kansas instead of Chicago because of a snow storm. Meantime during all of this he has been seated right next to John Candy who plays a chatty, annoying, yet love able character who is apart of Martin's journey whether he likes it or not.
This is the first time I have seen the movie since I started having to travel for work, which gives me a whole new appreciation for Steve Martin in his travel struggles at the beginning of the film.
It is very odd how master filmmaker John Hughes occasionally gives a glance into Martin's thought perspective by pointing out very obvious clues in the first part of the film. Like putting a highlight special effect on the plane ticket despite Martin saying that he is running late, and showing the flash back of Candy from the cab scene in the Airport. Hughes uses flashbacks again during the climax of the film but much more effectively to recount the crazy journey and for Martin to realize a hidden truth.
Hughes manipulates the Hell out of us with his use of music in this movie. During the first motel scene Candy is so annoying, and when Martin calls him on it, Candy retorts that he is a 'genuine article' although that is never really shown in the film other than the fact that he is a nice guy. But we get sucked in emotionally by this very melodic 80's track by (E.T.A). This is done very effectively to make us forget about Candy's mistakes and highlight Martin's over reaction.
The track is used once again in the climax of the film, and despite the fact that I have seen this so many times I still find my self getting moved and tear up. What can I say, I am a sucker for emotional moments in movies.
The humor of the film is based in an overall realist feel up until the car sequence when the hijinks go to the extreme with fingers getting embedded in dash boards, and then famous near death scene when they drive between two tractor trailers. While the movie is very humorous, I do find myself not laughing out loud as much upon each rewatch.
While it is very 80's, Trains, Planes, and Automobiles is still a true classic and it will pop in my mind as I think of what to watch each Thanksgiving. Candy was one of my favorite actors as a kid and he died way to young.
Here are a few of my favorite moments to close out:
- The street Chase with Kevin Bacon
- 'My dogs are parking tonight'
- Only the smallest towel is left after the shower
- Where is your other hand, between two pillows.... those aren't pillows
- Why is the thief wearing a train hat?
- Flintstones, meet the the Flintstones
- "I want a fucking car, right fucking, now!"
- Squeaky voice after being picked up by his balls. You plays with your
balls a lot
- The shower curtain ring stuff is just silly
- The mess around, everybody do the mess around
- Steve Martin as a skeleton, and John Candy the Devil
- The sweet looks on the kids faces
- And finally them walking together as friends to Martin's house for
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Happy movie watching... SKOL!