animaldoctor’s review published on Letterboxd:
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Or rather, happy Black Friday, everyone! This review is a smidge late because I watched the first half-hour of this film with my parents on Thanksgiving. They couldn't get through the rest of the movie after that because they found the slapstick humor childish and the situational humor more depressingly realistic than over-the-top funny. I, on the other hand, want to finish every movie I start and have been recommended this movie by a friend for years, so I watched the last hour of this film today. I gotta say, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is absolutely a fun movie. I don't personally love it as much as some people do, but I still think it is a really solid endeavor and once again proves John Hughes's pure talent as a screenwriter.
I absolutely understand why so many people see this as the definitive Thanksgiving movie. It's got that lovable family spirit that so many Americans associate with the holiday today, and a lot of that comes down to the incredible chemistry between Steve Martin and John Candy. It's weird, these two are both comedic legends in their own right, but I guess I wouldn't have necessarily seen them as a great comedic duo. They proved me so wrong in this film, as their chemistry feels natural from the first time they're shown on screen together, and their acting is fantastic from start to finish.
What I will be honest about is that this movie really didn't make me laugh that much. Sure, there are a lot of really nice and heartwarming moments (especially towards the end) and there are definitely some ridiculous scenarios that are fun to watch, but I wouldn't say too much of it really made me laugh out loud at all. In fact, there are points where I didn't really know whether or not I should empathize with some of the insanely dangerous actions that these two characters accidentally or intentionally get themselves involved in, especially a scene involving Candy telling another couple that they're drunk when he doesn't believe what they're telling him. I don't know, there were just times where the suspension of disbelief rode itself a little too close to being unbelievable to me in regards to the likability of these characters.
Other than that, though, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is certainly a fun movie. It's got great acting, really solid direction, witty dialogue, some memorable confrontation scenes, it's just an overall pleasant treat for the Thanksgiving holiday. If you're looking for a tightly paced situational comedy centered around Thanksgiving, I think you're gonna find yourself enjoying this movie, and heck, I'll probably watch it again at some point just to really cement how I feel about it into my head. For now, though, I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and a happy Black Friday!
Letter Grade: A-
And yes, I'm going to be one of those guys that acknowledges the colonialist and flawed history behind the Thanksgiving holiday because I think it's important. I genuinely hope people who celebrate Thanksgiving are able to enjoy time with their friends and family and stuff themselves with great food, but I also hope that we don't forget where Thanksgiving started from in the first place. That point has literally nothing to do with the movie, by the way, it's not any reason why I took points off for a silly holiday comedy, I just wanted to make sure I acknowledged it because I felt it was important. Just speaking my mind here.