I have very fond memories of watching this movie with my family every year on Thanksgiving. There are about a zillion things about PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES that I love. My parents recorded the movie onto VHS from a television broadcast and that was the version I knew until about four years ago. Little did I know, there are so many things that they couldn’t show on TV. The thing about PTaA is that it is a holiday movie that is tastefully done and heartfelt, but also contains a delightful rant delivered by Steve Martin that is peppered with the F-word. A rosy-cheeked car rental agent (Edie McClurg, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) takes the onslaught with style and finesse, biting back with a rosy-cheeked smirk. Gobble gobble!
This is only one of the scenes that makes Planes, Tranes, and Automobiles my favorite Thanksgiving movie. The story follows Neal Page (Steve Martin) on his journey home to see his wife and kids for Thanksgiving dinner. Leaving a business meeting, Neal fights about a hundred other people for a cab. When he finally does get a cab, a fateful meeting occurs when Del Griffith (John Candy) enters his life.
Del is an obnoxious shower curtain ring salesman. His overbearing ways put Neal off immediately, but Del had me at “Pleased to meet you, Neal Page,” and that sweet, dopey smile. When it looks like Neal and Del are stuck in the airport together for the night, Neal reluctantly ages to share a hotel room with Del.
The events that follow are hilarious, heartfelt, sad, and outrageous. When it seems that they’ve finally cleared all of the annoying obstacles they continue to meet, this happens…
While the movie is full of hilarious moments like that one, it has such a heartfelt message behind it. Even though the holidays can be stressful – especially when you can’t be with your family and can’t seem to find your way home – all is not lost. You may be feeling like you’re being singled out and that everyone else is doing just fine. It’s when we see more than just our own trials and tribulations that we notice the people around us and what they might be going through.
My boyfriend and I came to the hospital two weeks ago and I’ve slept on a chair and a hard cot. Ive lost sleep and had to go to work regardless of how I might be feeling. Now, on Thanksgiving day I feel far away from my family and friends. Then I look over at my beloved who is snoozing peacefully at the moment and he reminds me why I’m here. The holidays aren’t about getting what you want or even what you need. It’s all about being there for the ones who need you most.
Neal gets on the el in Chicago to finally go home when he realizes that Del doesn’t actually have anywhere to go. And let’s not even talk about what happens when Neal finally does get home. Tears are pooling in my eyes just thinking about it. Every time you go away…
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is an ideal holiday movie. It teaches us to accept someone even if you happen to wipe your face with their underwear by accident. It teaches the importance of family. But most importantly, it teaches us that the train don’t run out of Wichita. Lessen’ you a hog or a cattle.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!