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Planes, Trains And Automobiles (1987)

Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong

Directed by:

John Hughes

Rating: 10/10

Running Time: 93 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Of the glut of buddy comedies to have come out of Hollywood, John Hughes arguably made the best when he departed from the world of the teen movie to direct “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”.

Throwing together Steve Martin and John Candy in an inspired piece of casting, this hilarious and touching film follows the (mis)fortunes of two men battling against the elements to make what should be a simple journey from New York to Chicago. Despite never having met, the pair form an unlikely alliance to complete their journey by all means possible. That'll explain the title, then.

Martin is highly-strung but, importantly, likeable as family man Neal Page, who's less than chuffed at being lumbered with the companionship of travelling salesman Del Griffith (Candy) on his trip home for Thanksgiving. Candy, meanwhile, produces the finest performance of his all too short life as the “annoying blabbermouth” with some disgusting habits but also a heart of gold. In fact, both key players are an absolute joy to watch in this emotional, warm and extremely funny roller-coaster ride.

There are no shortage of highlights on the humour front: Neal's verbal assault on a sickeningly cheery car-rental agent (Edie McClurg); the pair waking up in bed together; Del's inventive shower curtain ring sales techniques. But, for me, it's still Neal's character assassination of Del in a hot-blooded hotel room rant that looms largest of all in the memory. Who'd ever have thought a John Hughes comedy would be capable of tugging so strongly on the old heart-strings?

What may seem to the outsider as just another 80s comedy has maintained its immense popularity not solely because of its consistency at producing laughs, but because it displays the kind of heart that we can all relate to. The humour springs from the calamity and misfortune suffered by the tremendously-played characters, but so too does the truly touching friendship which emerges.

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It's Got: The late great John Candy in his finest hour-and-a-half. And look out for Kevin Bacon in a miniature role as an extra-competitive New York pedestrian.

It Needs: To be enjoyed over and over again.

DVD Extras Zilch DVD Extras Rating: 0/10

Alternatives:

Roxanne, The Out of Towners

Summary

A touching and rewarding road trip, super-glued together with some brilliantly-written comedy and a magnificent spark between Messrs Martin and Candy.

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