Featured Blu-ray Review: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Last year, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles was one of three films released on DVD as Best Buy / Future Shop exclusives. (Where this was an exclusive depends on which side of the 49th parallel you live.) Now it is coming out on wide release, so for those who do all of their shopping on Amazon.com can grab it. Is it worth picking up if you missed it the first time?
Before we begin, I previously reviewed the Blu-ray, so this is mostly a cut and paste job.
Steve Martin plays Neal Page, whom we meet just before the holidays. He's stuck in a meeting that won't end, because the person in charge can't make a decision. Now he has to race to the airport to catch his 6 o'clock flight from New York to Chicago. Things immediately go wrong. In fact, he barely gets to the elevator when he realizes he left his gloves behind. While racing to a taxi, he trips over someone's luggage (it has Del Griffith on it). He has to bribe another man to get his taxi. And while he's negotiating a price, another person, Del Griffith himself, steals his taxi.
He really didn't need to rush, as he gets to the airport just in time to learn his flight was delayed. While waiting, Neal runs into Del. Del isn't a bad guy. He didn't even realize he stole Neal's cab and asks to make up for it by buying him a hotdog, or a beer, anything. Neal isn't interested; he just wants to never see Del again. His wish doesn't come true, as he's bumped from first class and gets a seat right beside Del. Then when O'Hara airport closes, the plane is re-routed to Wichita, Kansas. Fortunately, Del's well-versed in dealing with travel delays like this (he's a shower curtain ring salesman and travels a lot) and he offers to share the motel room he booked, as long as Neal picks up the cab fare. And from now on, the fates of the two men are linked, through robbery, through fire, and more, as they both try desperately to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a classic. There's no doubt in my mind that is the case. It takes a situation that a lot of people could relate to, troubles while traveling, and takes it to an extreme degree. It goes far enough to be incredibly funny, but not so far that is moves into the realm of farce. It's realistic, as everything that happens to the pair happens to a lot of travelers. (Okay, perhaps not setting their car on fire or driving down the wrong way of a highway, but most of the rest is perfectly normal travel horror story material.) Most importantly, it maintains its heart. Thanks to the well-written script, we get to learn a lot about these two characters over the few days we are following them. And thanks to the incredible performances by Steve Martin and John Candy, we really care about them by the end. Finally, like I mentioned last time, the film is very quotable, which is an added bonus. It's such a fun movie that the replay value is very high.
There are four featurettes and a deleted scene on the Blu-ray. The first is 17-minute Q&A with Steve Martin, John Candy, and John Hughes. There's a two-part, 53-minute featurette on the career of John Hughes. There's a short four-minute clip of John Hughes explaining how he went from directing films with teenagers to a more adult cast. There's a three-minute tribute to John Candy. And finally a single deleted scene. That's a pretty good selection of extras.
Unfortunately, the audio / video is a let down. There's a bit too much DNR and there's a lack of details overall, especially in darker scenes. The brighter lit the scene is, the better the details and the colors are. There are no compression issues present. Overall it is a step up from the DVD, but it is not a pristine Blu-ray. The audio is what you would expect. The dialogue is clear, but the rest of the audio is uncomplicated with only a bit of ambient sounds and the score coming from the rear speakers.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2012-11-03