All that Neal Page wants to do is to get home for Thanksgiving. His flight has been cancelled due to bad weather, so he decides on other means of transport. As well as bad luck, Neal is blessed with the presence of Del Griffith, shower curtain ring salesman and all-around blabbermouth who is never short of advice, conversation, bad jokes, or company. And when he decides that he is going the same direction as Neal....Written by
Murray Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The greatness and pure genius of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" is that, while it is uproariously hilarious, it also reveals great hurt and truth - unlike any comedy I have ever seen before or since.
Scenes such as those in the Bravewood Inn are classics. The argument between Neal and Del is the turning point in the film, and it is the first time that the audience realizes that they are in for more than they thought they were. There are certain elements of tenderness, heart, agony, conflict, and heartfelt emotion in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" that make it transcend the genre.
Steve Martin and John Candy don't just act; they embody themselves so deeply in their characters that it almost sets a standard for how comedic pairings should be. Line them up next to Chris Farley and David Spade and the differences are astronomical. Watching Steve Martin is like acting a comedian at the top of his game. Just watch his reactions. The facial reaction from Steve in response to Del's comeback in the Bravewood Inn is perfect; we understand what Neal is going through, and Steve Martin lets us know this by placing himself in a recognizable area. We also understand Del, and that is really the key to this movie: Being able to identify with both characters almost equally. How often can you say that about buddy pictures? I don't ever feel much sympathy for Chris Farley, if that means anything.
John Candy remains one of the most underrated and underwritten film comedians of all time. Offered constant mediocre scripts during the eighties and early nineties, all the way up until his death in 1994, he could make the material something more, something watchable. I recently viewed "Funny Farm," a painfully unfunny film to sit through. I imagined what John Candy could have done with Chevy Chase's role, and I found myself laughing. Why? Because John Candy can make anything watchable. Just how many times would you watch "Summer Rental" or "The Great Outdoors" if the lead actor was Jim Carrey?
There's some important content in this film, but it is never overpowered by laughs, nor vice versa. They go hand-in-hand. I come back to the Bravewood Inn argument scene. After the hilarious, ongoing insults Neal throws at Del, Del responds and says, "You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I'm an easy target. Yeah, you're right, I talk too much. But I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynical like you, but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. So you go right on and think what you like about me. But I'm not changing. I - I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. 'Cause I'm the real deal. Whatcha see is whatcha get." It's creepy how much dramatic, emotional and truthful subtext sneaks into this film, and yet it only makes it all the better for it. "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" is my favorite Comedy, yes I know that I have said it before. But, it is a serious comedy that has both heart and is hilarious at the same time. Entertainment at it's best. And isn't that what movies are all about?
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