The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Gobble gobble: A Thanksgiving treat from John Hughes

November 26, 2008 |  5:13 pm

Turkey_2As I was packing to head out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend, imagining all the long lines at the airport, delayed arrivals and endless taxi rides, my mind seamlessly went back in time to the world's greatest Thanksgiving comedy, John Hughes' enchantingly wonderful "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."

Made in 1987, it stars Steve Martin as a tightly wrapped ad exec who endures a series of comic misadventures trying to get home to see his family in Chicago (Hughes' own hometown). Most of the madcap misadventures involve his costar, John Candy, who plays a garrulous shower-curtain salesman whose attempts to be helpful always lead to further complications.

Frankly, pretty much every moment in the film between the two guys is a hoot--they're the perfect distillation of Hollywood's odd-couple comedy matrix: Martin, cool and edgy; Candy, warm and exuberant. The movie also offers great guest shots by Michael McKean as a state trooper and Edie McClurg as a car rental agent (she goes toe-to-toe with Martin in a scene you'll have to go see on YouTube for yourself, since Martin uses an expletive 18 times in just over a minute--when you blog for a family newspaper, you can't link to any nasty words). Hughes always had a knack for showcasing cool music in his films, so if you rent the movie, watch for a comical highway misadventure, involving Candy driving the wrong way on a freeway, orchestrated to Ray Charles' "Mess Around."

At one point in the story, the two men, stranded in Wichita, end up spending the night in a cheap motel, which is where the following scene begins as they wake up in the morning, locked in an uncomfortable embrace. Happy Turkey Day!

Photo by Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times