Capsule Review: “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”

Image result for planes trains and automobiles poster

Like Bill Clinton, John Hughes could feel your pain. As a filmmaker, the former National Lampoon writer spoke to the misfits of 1980s white collar, suburban America, from the ragtag group of teen archetypes in the The Breakfast Club to the titular manchild with a heart of gold in Uncle Buck. HIs best film paired  John Candy with Steve Martin as yet another goofy odd couple (Candy is a jocular shower-curtain-ring salesman, Martin a high-strung ad executive) trying to get home for Thanksgiving. Hughes’s films could occasionally suffocate under the weight of their own sentimentality. This one is pitched just right, balancing manic comic energy with genuine pathos. Candy in particular shows, when given the chance, he had real dramatic chops, delving into the underlying sadness of his lovably oafish character. And Martin, in perhaps the film’s best known scene, turns excessive profanity into an art form. Like Groundhog Day after it, Planes, Trains, Automobiles proved mainstream Hollywood comedies could reach surprising levels of emotional depth, while also being uproariously funny. 

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