While I at least like all of Hughes films from this period, PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES remains my favorite (with FERRIS BUELLERíS DAY OFF being a close second). Hughes is just so on the mark here, with this being the perfect blend of comedy and pathos. Steve Martin, as the anal-retentive Page is at the peak of his ability. His dressing down of an annoying car rental receptionist (I want a FUCKING car, right FUCKING now!) is a classic, as are about a half dozen other lines (my favorite being, ďif I wanted a joke, Iíd follow you into the john and watch you take a leakĒ). Heís the man here.
However, this is John Candyís movie. His Del Griffin is one of the ultimate comedic performances, with him finding a balance between comedy and pathos that is just uncanny. Itís rare that a comedian will make you nearly pee your pants in laughter, but later tear your heart out, but Candy does it. If anything, Candy was badly jilted by the Academy by not getting an Oscar nomination for his superlative work here, and it remains his signature role. Itís no coincidence that after this, Hughes started using him in all of his films.
When people ask what made Hughesí films so good, Iíd have to say itís his empathy, and neither Neal, nor Del end up being what they seem to be by the time this comes to an end. Neal is far from the jerk he comes off as, with him harboring a real kind streak despite his naturally standoffish nature, while Del reveals a devastating truth about himself that leads to the kind of climax that makes you just feel all warm and gooey inside. This is a masterpiece.
Next up is an interview piece; called Getting There is Half the Fun: The Story of Planes, Trains and Automobiles which is disappointing, as it mostly consists of vintage interviews from the 1987 junket. Along the same line are the short featurettes John Hughes For Adults , and A Tribute to John Candy ; which drives home just how much of a nice guy Candy was. Too bad Martin wasnít interviewed now, as Iíve heard this remains his favorite of any film heís done, and a commentary would have been terrific.
More substantially, we get an HD doc about John Hughes , cut into two thirty minutes chunks, which gives a good overview of his Paramount films, and includes new interviews with Jon Cryer, Lea Thompson, Alan Ruck, Matthew Broderick and others.