After the 80s saw a string of highly successful (and still iconic) teen movies (Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles), Thanksgiving of 1987 rolled around, and a new movie arrived in theaters. Sure, it was billed as “A John Hughes Film”, but there was something…different. There were two ADULTS on the poster. No mention anywhere of teen angst. No Molly Ringwald. No pictures of a high school.
What is going on??
Sure enough, Planes, Trains and Automobiles was a (GASP!) big-people movie. The story of Del Griffith (John Candy) and Neal Page (Steve Martin) and their comic three-day trip from New York to Wichita to Chicago (by way of Missouri and sundry points in between) was a neck-snapping departure for Hughes, but–wait a second.
There was still that trademark Hughes heart (tell us you didn’t weep a little when Neal realized what was really going on in Del’s life), the trademark Hughes humor (“Those aren’t PILLOWS!”), and the trademark Hughes dialogue (18 brilliant f-words in 60 seconds during that rental car scene).
It was almost like Hughes himself grew up a little when he put Planes, Trains and Automobiles together. And even though we were but young lads and lasses in the 80s, we knew we were growing up, too, as we walked out of the theater thinking we might have just seen the best movie Hughes had made to that point.
…and looking back, it’s arguably STILL his best ever.
Need any more proof of Planes, Trains and Automobiles‘ awesomeness? History’s greatest and most respected movie critic, Roger Ebert, loved it so much that he included it in his Great Movies List, alongside classics like Stagecoach, Shoah, and Cool Hand Luke. “The movies that last, the ones we return to, don’t always have lofty themes or Byzantine complexities. Sometimes they last because they are arrows straight to the heart.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
“I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. ‘Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.”
We ♥ Planes, Trains and Automobiles.