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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Planes, Trains & Automobiles (Re-release) (Blu-ray)
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (Re-release) (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // R // October 10, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $12.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted November 10, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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THE FILM:

Click an image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p resolution.

Damn, I wish John Candy was still alive. It is always a treat to stumble onto a movie with the actor when flipping through the channels. John Hughes' 1987 comedy Planes, Trains & Automobiles is one of my favorite Candy films. Steve Martin matches the comedic actor's talents during a holiday from hell, as the pair travels together from Wichita, Kansas toward Chicago after their flight is diverted in a snowstorm. A break from teen-centric projects like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Breakfast Club, this movie is no less a Hughes film and has plenty of heart and wit. Although several gags are completely over the top, like the burned-up car, the leads play off one another believably throughout. Planes, Trains, & Automobiles is a familiar comedy that continues to entertain 30 years after its initial release.

Martin's Neal Page sits in a boring meeting in downtown New York City watching the clock until he can leave for the airport to fly home for Thanksgiving. Outside the building, Page has his cab stolen by Candy's Del Griffith, a shower curtain ring salesman. Through a series of unlucky coincidences, the two men meet - and continue to meet - again. The next time, Page is crammed into the middle seat of the airplane beside Griffith. The flight to Chicago gets diverted to Kansas in a snowstorm, and the men part ways to find alternate transportation. Page has a hilarious meltdown at the rental car agency when he realizes there are no cars left to loan. "You're fucked," the saleswoman tells him in a bit of foreshadowing. Griffith does manage to rent a car, and called for a hotel room before everything sold out. Page reluctantly agrees to accompany him, and winds up paying for the entire evening on his credit card. Things go downhill from there, as Griffith proves a terrible roommate.

Martin and Candy are so perfect here because they play deeply flawed characters in what is, at least on its surface, a travel comedy. Page is not a particularly nice guy in public. Sure, he loves his wife and kids, but he is impatient and judgmental with others. Griffith is a nice guy; helpful and accommodating. But he is also a moocher and inconsiderate of others' space and feelings. His burly, jovial exterior hides internal pain, which he reveals later in the movie. Damn, Hughes was a master at weaving human emotion and empathy into his comedies. A movie like this would not be made in the same way today. This is not Hughes' best screenplay, but the talents of Martin and Candy really elevate the material above what would likely be a scattershot comedy if made today.

What struck me while watching Planes, Trains & Automobiles last week is how over the last several decades I've seen this movie dozens of times but it has never lost its charm. Subtler moments earn my biggest laughs now, but I recall cracking up with my cousins during the near-death experience Page and Griffith share on an interstate when we were in middle school. Martin has been playing the working stiff for years now, but this was new to the actor in 1987. Martin is a wild man in movies like The Jerk, but he has since adapted his Planes, Trains & Automobiles performance in countless movies. Candy left us far too soon, but it is a comfort to be able to watch the late actor in movies like this. Martin, Candy and Hughes created a simple road-trip comedy but left a surprisingly legacy.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

Paramount has re-issued the 2012 Blu-ray here, so don't go expecting some gorgeous 4K remaster. The 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is adequate but dated. Fine-object detail and texture are acceptable, and colors are appropriately saturated. There is noticeable edge enhancement in spots, and several shots look quite soft. The grain structure varies, and I suspect some noise reduction was used. Blacks crush in spots, but the print is largely clean. Until a full remaster is done, this is as good as it gets.

SOUND:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is reasonably engaging, with some light ambience and sound pans during action sequences. Dialogue is clear and without distortion, but the mix feels a bit anemic at times. The musical soundtrack is layered appropriately and never overwhelms other elements. Portuguese and Spanish mono mixes are included, as are a host of subtitle options.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This "30th Anniversary" re-release includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy and code to redeem a digital download. The discs are packed into an eco-case. Although retailers indicate this comes with a slipcover sporting the new artwork, my review copy did not. Extras include Getting There is Half the Fun: The Story of Planes, Trains & Automobiles (16:38/SD), an older making-of featurette; John Hughes for Adults (4:02/SD), a brief EPK-style piece; John Candy Tribute (3:01/SD); a Deleted Scene (3:24/SD); and Life Moves Pretty Fast (53:31/HD), a documentary on the filmmaker that was new to the 2009 Blu-ray.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Thirty years after its initial release, Planes, Trains & Automobiles remains an endearing comedy thanks to the talents of Director John Hughes and actors Steve Martin and John Candy. If you do not yet own this movie in HD, then this release is Recommended. Otherwise, this "30th Anniversary Edition" is a rehash of the 2009 Blu-ray and offers only average picture and sound and some decent supplements.


Additional screenshots:

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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