4K Blu-ray Review: Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

While the majority of people love Thanksgiving and the food that comes along with it, it’s hard to name movies that truly celebrate the spirit of the holiday. If you take pretty much any other holiday and ask someone to name a few movies based around it, odds are they wouldn’t have too much trouble. But if you went up to someone on the street and said, “Name me a great movie about Thanksgiving!” they’d probably think for a moment and then get sidetracked with thoughts about gravy pouring over a beautifully cooked turkey and mashed potatoes and end up forgetting a question was even asked. It’s just not a holiday that’s really focused on when it comes to movies.

But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few good ones, and at least one classic that stars two comedy heavyweights that carry the fun and frantic John Hughes story on their shoulders with relative ease. That movie is Planes, Trains & Automobiles, starring Steve Martin and the late, great John Candy. The film is simple in its story: Neal Page (Martin) is an advertising executive who is on a business trip in New York on the days leading into Thanksgiving. The movie begins with him aiming to get out of a meeting and make a 6pm flight home to his family back in Chicago for the festive holiday. This is where everything begins to go wrong for Page, as he loses a cab to Del Griffith (Candy), a man he’s never met but is destined to travel the country with in the days ahead.

After a major snowstorm grounds all planes to Chicago, Griffith recognizes Page and apologizes for stealing his cab. He tries to make amends by getting Page a place to stay at a motel where he’s owed a favour. From here we get to enjoy 80-minutes of Martin and Candy playing off one another as their characters go from one crazy scenario to the next. It’s the simple story where just when you think something else can’t go wrong, it does. This is something that can get tiring or redundant, but Hughes makes sure that nothing is actually ever forced.

It’s no easy feat to keep two polar opposite characters together when in reality they’d part ways after the first hiccup in the trip, but Hughes makes it so that even though they often can’t stand one another (okay, Page can’t stand Griffith), the circumstances around them line up in completely logical ways that it just makes sense for them to stick together on this cross-country journey despite the constant barrage of obstacles they continuously face.

This is the first and only time Martin and Candy worked together and while we could always wish we had more, we can be thankful that we at least had this as their chemistry is off the charts. As mentioned before, Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a simple movie, and while Hughes knows how to write characters that appeal to audiences, it truly takes the right actors to bring them to life in a way that elevates the script. Now, this film screams the ‘80s and I won’t lie and say that there was nobody else that could’ve played these parts during this time; however, nobody would have nailed them as perfectly as Martin and Candy.

Griffith is not an easy guy to love, even though he’s the guy audiences are supposed to feel sorry for. He does things to annoy Page that would annoy anyone. When Page flies off the handle because of something Griffith has done or is doing if we as audience members put ourselves in his position we’d likely react exactly the same – Griffith is a tough guy to love on the surface level. But Candy is just a loveable looking guy, and he’s got an innocence to his comedic delivery that allows audiences to see past this chain-smoking, throat-clearing, shoe-and-sock-removing exterior, and feel sympathy for Griffith as a guy who is just trying to stay positive and make those around him happy. Meanwhile, Page is a high-strung guy who is quick to anger, and while we do feel bad for Griffith when Page blows up at him time and time again, we also feel for Page because he’s not a bad guy at all and he just can’t seem to catch a break. Martin knows just how to deliver this type of anger while also making his character appealing to the audience, and the two bounce off one another beautifully for the entire film.

Unlike a big Thanksgiving dinner, Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a slim 90-minutes in length, and an easy film to digest on a yearly basis if you so desire. It’s fun to think about how the first cut of this film was actually three hours and forty-five minutes with various subplots and scenes being stripped from the film as Hughes buckled down. This 4K anniversary release of the film celebrates that cut to some extent as they’ve found and included over an hour of these deleted scenes on the Blu-ray disc, so if you ever broke the wishbone on the turkey and used it to wish to one day see all these archived scenes, then know that your wish came true and go hop onto a plane, train or automobile and pick yourself up a copy of this Thanksgiving classic that comes with all the toppings.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review

The 2160p/Dolby Vision delivery of the Hughes classic looks good in this anniversary release; however, it’s not a mind-blowing upgrade like many of us are used to – especially when it comes to Paramount’s usual delivery of high quality 4K releases of older films. There’s a softening to the visuals that doesn’t distract, but somewhat loses that filmic quality that add a bit of charm to movies like this. While this 4K upgrade isn’t up to snuff with Paramount’s other recent anniversary upgrades, this is the best Planes, Trains & Automobiles has ever looked at home and is well worth the purchase and or double-dip if you already own the film from a previous release.

On the audio side of things we sadly do miss out on a Dolby Atmos upgrade, instead keeping the already in place DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio in its place. That’s not entirely a bad thing, as it’s a great mix that allows the soundtrack to truly boom throughout your living room, and the dialogue is nice and clean; however, for those hoping for the audio upgrade on top of the visuals then you’ll have to continue to wait on that front.

New Special Features

Deleted and Extended Scenes – Here we’ve got the bread and butter of the special features, with over and hour and fifteen minutes of upscaled 1080p scenes that were found in the archive, and thus don’t look the greatest. Still, we’re not here for the 4K version of these and just getting to watch Candy and Martin work in all their glory is bonus enough. We’re talking an amount of scenes that’s just under the runtime of the film itself, so fans can prep their Thanksgiving dinner (or any snacks) and sit down to a feast of comedy.

Audition: Dylan Baker “Owen” – We’ve got a three-and-a-half minute upscaled audition tape as well, that seems to have been recovered from the same archives, just as an added bonus!

Legacy Special Features

We’ve also got the legacy features, which come over from the previous home release, which include:

Getting There is Half the Fun: The Story of Planes, Trains and Automobiles – This is a 17-minute feature that sees Martin, Candy and Hughes talking to the press about the film, working together and the likes. It’s a fun watch for those who haven’t seen it yet.

John Hughes: Life Moves Pretty Fast – Another massive feature here that runs at about an hour in length and focuses on Hughes, his films, his work as a writer and director. There’s a lot here and for those who may not yet have seen it, it’s well worth the watch.

John Hughes for Adults – This is a 4-minute featurette that touches on Hughes delving into more adult-centric films over the teen genre that he previously dominated.

A Tribute to John Candy – A fairly self-explanatory 3-minute featurette here that sees the cast and crew talk about Candy, both on and off set.

Paramount Pictures Presents Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Directed by: John Hughes. Written by: John Hughes. Starring: Steve Martin, John Candy, Michael McKean, Kevin Bacon. Running time: 92 minutes. Rating: PG. 4K Blu-ray Released: Nov. 22, 2022.

Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.