Every year, many of us plan out what movies we will watch for Halloween and/or Christmas. It becomes a tradition. We gather round with family and friends and re-watch our favorite classics. Thanksgiving is not typically thought of as a time to do the same. Sure, we gather with family and friends and many watch the trio of football games on, but there have not been a lot of Thanksgiving movies that have stood the test of time.
However, one film not only stands that test, it is the absolute perfect holiday film…any holiday. Released in 1987, Planes Trains and Automobiles is the story of Neal Page (played by comedy genius, Steve martin) trying to get home to Chicago from New York in time for Thanksgiving. Along the way he meets Del Griffith (the late, iconic John Candy). Along the way, they encounter a blizzard and other problems that questions whether they will get home in time. While Neal is generally annoyed by Del for most of the trip, they become great friends and in a touching “a ha” moment, Neal invites Del to Thanksgiving dinner.
This film was the brain child of legendary film maker, the late John Hughes. Hughes was known for high school films The Breakfast Club, 16 Candles and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This was his crack at making a holiday film and boy did he ever. Hughes would later write the Christmas blockbuster, Home Alone.
There is the background with little to no spoilers (for those who have not yet seen this AMAZING movie). Here is why this movie is perfect. It has the right amount of comedy. Steve Martin is the straight man who’s comedy comes at his own expense. John Candy is well…he’s John Candy and they play off each other so well. The movie sends a solid message about priorities in life. What is most important is family. Neal is so dead set on getting home in time for Thanksgiving and is so close to blowing it. he finally realizes he has “been spending too much time away from home”. Del is always on the road as well (we learn why at the end).
This movie also shows true friendship. While Del drives Neal crazy through the entire trip, he means well and just wants to be a friendly helpful soul. Neal comes to realize Del’s situation and instead of just finally being rid of him, Neal shows the ultimate sign of friendship. He invites Del over for a family meal. These two guys trauma bonded and they taught each other life lessons.
At the end of the day, this movie is full of laughs and teaches us all a lesson on priorities, showing love for others and compassion during the holidays. That is why Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the PERFECT holiday movie. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.