Planes, Trains & Automobiles Review

A comedy classic directed by 80s legend John Hughes? Yes please.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a 1987 comedy directed by John Hughes and stars Steve Martin and John Candy as an unlikely pair stuck together on a ridiculously unlucky trip from New York to Chicago to make it in time for Thanksgiving. The duo in this film, Martin and Candy, is absolutely hilarious. Both play distinct characters, and their relationship is very believable and entertaining. They never become caricatures or walking jokes, which helps sell how ridiculous the series of events depicted are. Seriously, its a continuous diarrhoeal stream of bad luck which did get grating… until it led into another hilarious scenario or joke.

The comedy and script in this film is top notch. John Hughes both writes and directs this film, which is probably why his direction, dialogue and actors fit together so well. John Hughes was behind two more significant eighties movies a few years before Planes – The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueler’s Day Off. This is clearly a man at the height of his career and it shows. A number of monologues and inventive jokes are exceptionally well written and executed. There’s also a broad plethora of comedy at show here – slapstick, crude and wit but the vast majority of it all lands to some degree or another. Sure it doesn’t have the meta-comedy or dramatic heft of Bueller and Breakfast Club but its still very successful in what it tries to do – make people laugh.

Honestly I’m not sure what else there is to say about Planes. If you’re looking for a well-written comedy roadtrip with great performances and direction, this is the one. My only problems would be occasionally the train of bad luck gets a bit grating and the ending has a bit of a tonal shift that makes the last few minutes far less engaging, but they’re both only minor issues. If you ever need a laugh, this comedy classic certainly does the trick.

General Audiences: Must-Watch

Film Buffs: Highly Recommended



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