Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Why We Love This Scene: Planes, Trains and Automobiles is quite possibly one of those underrated comedy masterpieces. I say underrated because most people wouldn’t call it a masterpiece. But like Weekend at Bernie’s it is an odd movie to call a masterpiece but there they are being all impressive and hilarious and shit. When Planes, Trains and Automobiles (PTA) was released I was 9 and this movie wasn’t marketed at all to my demographic but I watched it anyway and loved every minute of it. I guess that age is the perfect age when you start to watch and appreciate “mature-themed” adult-centric movies. Before that it’s all Goonies, Gremlins, Indiana Jones and The Dark Crystal. I’m sure I saw a lot of other adult-themed movies and comedies in particular when I was younger than 9 but I just think PTA stands out differently. Maybe it’s because of the dramatic tone towards the end. I really can’t recall many comedies that I saw by 9 have a strong a serious overtone to them. I could be wrong but PTA stands out. It also stands out that this was a rare John Hughes flick not to feature a prominent teen cast. 16 Candles, Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller are all about teens. PTA is a road movie with an odd couple.
And what an odd couple it is. It was a rare pairing of Steve Martin and John Candy but it worked perfectly. Martin, the uptight yuppie and Candy as the boorish yet kind-hearted slob. While I liked the movie back in the 80s and maybe watched it a few times in the following years it dawned on me that it’s a comedy masterpiece when I watched it again as an adult. This happens all the time really and I feel I mention this on most of my posts on this site.
It has a ton of hilarious memorable scenes but today I’m highlighting the scene when Candy inadvertently drives on the wrong side of the freeway and nearly kills them both. The cock-sureness of both Candy and Martin to the warning from the other driver telling them “You’re going the wrong way” is great. At first Candy thinks the driver on the correct side of the divider wants to race. Then he suspects that he’s drunk and says, “How would he know where we’re going?” Then after realizing their grave error the film shifts to a cartoonesque joke by showing both Candy and Martin’s faces as skeletons and martin looking over to see his bane of troubles, Candy as a Halloween-costumed Satan as they are nearly killed by two incoming semis.
While my memory of this movie is usually on the other memorable scenes like “Those aren’t pillows!” and “I want a fucking car…right…fucking…now.” This wrong-way scene is my favorite now. The other’s are great but I think I liked them because I was more immature and the humor is more low-brow. But seeing John Candy in a devil costume is downright hysterical to me.