We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles is the quintessential Thanksgiving movie. To be totally fair, there just aren’t that many Thanksgiving movies, but aside from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, there’s probably no other Thanksgiving film more beloved than Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Somehow I missed this one growing up, but thanks to learning about the film through the Retroist podcast, I was able to correct this egregious gap in my Thanksgiving movie viewing. While I normally try to stick to films that are readily available across the larger streaming services, I think this one is worth spending a few extra bucks to rent or buy this Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving isn’t normal for most of us this year, but adding a heartwarming film to your post-turkey dinner activities is a way to add a little bit of heart to the day. Check out the trailer for Planes, Trains & Automobiles, and let’s get started.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles stars Steve Martin as Neal Page and the late, great John Candy as Del Griffith as two businessmen who are just trying to get themselves home for Thanksgiving. The film is directed by the late, great John Hughes (Home Alone, The Breakfast Club) and is widely regarded as the best performance of John Candy’s career.
There’s lots to love about this film, and I think it’s worth watching for yourself if you’ve not seen it. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I do want to offer some fun facts about the film to pique your interest.
- No plane, train or automobile company of any kind wanted to be associated with the film due to the mishaps Neal and Del face trying to get home. This forced the studio to rent train tracks, refurbish old train cars, and create sets of airports, uniforms, the works, to get realistic sets for the film.
- John Hughes shot nearly twice as much film during the making of this movie than the average movie and there have long been rumors of a “Hughes Cut” of the film that is three hours long.
- Speaking of #ReleaseTheHughesCut, there is a new documentary about Planes, Trains & Automobiles, its deleted scenes, and cut subplots. You can learn more about it here.
- Kevin Bacon makes a hilarious cameo at the beginning of the film.
- According to IMDB, this would have been Jeri Ryan’s (Star Trek: Voyager, Picard) first feature film, but she could not stop laughing at Steve Martin and John Candy’s antics (can you blame her?), so Hughes had to cut her scenes from the film. She was 19 at the time.
- In the scene that earned the film an R rating in the United States, the F-Bomb is dropped 19 times. The 19th time puts me in stitches every time.
- Don’t turn this off before the credits roll! John Hughes repeats what he did with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and adds a stinger scene at the end of the credits.
- The bus scene where John Candy leads the passengers in a rendition of the theme from The Flintstones is parodied in The Office.
- This film was supposed to take place during the winter, but it was unseasonably warm in the midwest that year, forcing the crew to move to multiple different filming locations to get snow.
While there is plenty of comedy in the film, both in dialogue and in the performances of Martin and Candy, this is a film with a lot of heart. John Candy shows that he not only is one of the best comedians to have ever walked the earth (and by all accounts, was an unbelievably kind man), but he also demonstrates that he has the chops to deliver the dramatic performance of his life as Del. Del is a complicated and deep man, despite his screwball exterior, and Candy balances both of those aspects masterfully.
If you could use a good comfort movie this Thanksgiving season, we can’t recommend Planes, Trains & Automobiles highly enough. Grab a piece of pie, enjoy Planes, Trains & Automobiles, and have a happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Fangirlish.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles is available to rent at your local video store or your favorite digital rental platform.