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Planes, Trains and Automobiles (4K Review)

3 min read


If you haven't seen , for a while, you could be forgiven for thinking it's a Christmas movie. Taking the form of ‘A Christmas Carol' meets ‘The Odyssey', it has 's Neal encumbered with 's Del as a travelling companion. Both are trying to reach Chicago in time for Thanksgiving, and while they each have their own reasons for the journey, what matters most is what they learn from each other.

Neal is one of those grey suit wearing types that filled the business districts of New York in times like this. As a meeting is dragged out by a power-hungry CEO before they decide to reconvene after the holidays, Neal finds himself rushing to get a cab to the airport. Del accidentally steals his cab, then they find each other in seats next to each other on the plane and stranded in the same airport in St Louis when the plane lands early.


It's completely absurd of course, like so much of output in this era it is held together primarily by wonderful performances from his cast. Nobody else could play these characters. John Candy in particular manages to be brilliantly likeable despite being an absolutely infuriating liability. Steve Martin swears with aplomb and you feel his frustration as he adds malice and emphasis to every consonant of “fuck”. A genuine Scrooge, it takes being forced into this situation against his will to fully realise what is important, more important than grey suits and rich men at the end of glass tables. Unlike many of Hughes other films of this era too, it manages to avoid descending into humour based around racist or sexist stereotypes. It is a smarter than most, despite the silliness.

More than anything else though, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is utterly hilarious. From sight gags, to one liners to absurd chaotic rage… there is something to tickle everyone's funny bone in this classic movie. A worthy addition to lists of “best comedys of all time”, it's a fabulous way to keep yourself going in November, before the Christmas movie binge begins in December.

While this review may seem like a bit of a gushing oversell for a 35-year-old bit of silliness, be assured it isn't. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a classic in every sense of the word. And should be seen by everyone.

The new 4k transfer is fine, with warm colours and sharp images. However, some of the wider shots are showing their age with the resolution being this high. One wonders if a Blu-ray isn't adequate for the type of film it is. However, the disc does boast a great selection of bonus features including tonnes of deleted and extended scenes, which may go some way to explaining the films only negative – it's pacing. Perhaps it's one for completists more than casual fans, but either way, if a new release gets you to rewatch it, then you're already winning.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles releases on 4K Ultra HD™ 21st November