Saturday, September 06, 2008

REVIEW: Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Year: 1987
Director: John Hughes
Starring: Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins, Michael McKean, Kevin Bacon
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

Planes, Trains & Automobiles was released in 1987 and grossed an estimated $48 million. While it wasn't a big hit in theaters, its become a classic for John Candy fans around the world. This was one of the few films I ever owned on VHS with Jurassic Park being the other one. I know this film by heart and soul because I have watched it more than 3 times. This is one of my favorite John Candy films. So knowing all of this, I knew what to expect when reviewing this film.

Plot Outline:
Neal Page (Steve Martin) is trying to get home in time to his loved ones for Thanksgiving. It starts off with his cab being stolen at the last second and then he misses his flight. Through various moments of bad luck including flight delays, train breakdowns and more, Neal tries to fight his way back home. With him is Del Griffith (John Candy), a loud mouth, quirky shower curtain ring salesman who bumps into Neal at the airport and is there to push Neal to his limits of frustration. Del promises to help Neal get home and the two of them bond together to form a friendship.

The story for Planes, Trains & Automobiles is pretty great. The plot is simple and is to understand. We don't get distracted from the main goal here and that's to get home. The plot is interesting and entertaining. The characters that we get introduced to are lovable and easy to compare with. There were parts in the film that I thought were memorable, but there was also parts where I thought it was too predictable. Yes their are some scenes that becomes pretty predictable so If I have to mark it down for something, Ill do it for that. Being marketed as a comedy, their are jokes spread out through the film. They are really funny and fun to listen too. I had a fun time with the comedy aspect of the film and felt that it didn't disappoint. I found the story to be a heartwarming adventure that I enjoyed more than once.

The cast for the film is also great. Steve Martin plays the main character Neal Page and he does a great job being the angry rich worker trying to get home for Thanksgiving. I thought he was spot on great for this part and he really had some good chemistry with Candy. The late John Candy plays as Del Griffith and he really impressed me. I thought he was very energetic and heartwarming in his role. Hes perfect here and is really the star of the movie. Man, do I sure miss him. Laila Robins plays Neal's wife in Chicago, but she hardly has any screen time as the main focus of the film is on Martin and Candy's character. I still thought she was pretty good in her role for the parts that she is in. She nails that simple housewife experience that we have all come to know and love.

The visual look for Planes, Trains & Automobiles is kind of a mixed bag. The film is pretty darn old and it shows it. The films source isn't very cleaned up and has some scratches here and their. I also noticed some film grain in some of the scenes. Colors have a muted yet oversaturated look to them. They can come off vibrant at times, but also look alittle washed out. They can also be somewhat dark at times. Detail is somewhat lacking in some shots. The film can tend to look pretty good from close up, but in some of the later scenes, the detail is almost non existent. The picture is also somewhat inconsistent. This is a film in need of some remastering so Paramount please get to it.

The film has a pretty live music soundtrack to it. I didn't expect a low budget film like this to have alot of music in it, but I was wrong. While the film doesn't have a sole score like many other films, it does have a mixture of songs that play through out the film. The songs are wonderfully picked and spread across the film. Bass is on the low side which isn't a surprise considering theirs no scenes that require heavy bass usage. Bass is pretty nice, but hardly anything special. This is another aspect of the film that needs a remastering to output full 5.1 sound.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a pretty great film about a friendship that isn't expected, but happens anyways. I found the story to be be charming and entertaining even though it can be predictable in some areas. I thought the cast was very sold and showed alot of chemistry that is noticeable just by watching the first half of the film. The visual look of the film is inconsistent and in need of a remastering. I thought the music was wonderful and worked to its story. This is a personal favorite of mine and I always have had a fun time watching it. I would recommend this film if your looking for a nice simple story that contains some laughter in it. As for John Candy fans, this should easily satisfy you.

Grade: B-

1 comment:

Rudy said...

Anything with Steve Martin is worth watching.