Transcript: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Transcript of 70mm’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) Episode.

SLIM Hey, it’s your old pal Slim and this is 70mm, a podcast for film lovers. Every Monday I sit down and record with dear friend and artist Danny Haas.

DANNY Steve Martin running is like — it’s like when you take your hand out of the Kermit Muppet and then just shake it by the neck.

SLIM And our own spiritual advisor, Protolexus.

PROTO You know, you got to look back to where you just were you were on a plane and this man, he went nude on the foot. In the plane next to you. You’re not getting in a motel with this guy.

SLIM And together as friends for life, we discuss recently watched movies. However, in this special holiday episode, we’re focusing entirely on 1987’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Does it deserve to sit in the pantheon of all time holiday classics? Or is it a snoozer with a bad soundtrack? Enjoy!

[70mm theme song ramps up, plays alone, fades out]

SLIM John Candy, Steve Martin.

PROTO Are we recording the recording?

SLIM Yeah, I’m recording right now. [Slim laughs] Are you ready to do a deep dive in one of the most well known comedies ever made starring Steve Martin, Proto? What’s your mindset right now to get into the king?

PROTO I have some serious thoughts about this movie that I’m very excited to talk about. There are some really juicy bits from this picture that I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say.

SLIM A lot of juice.

DANNY Steve is well loved in your household, correct?

PROTO Well, Jenna’s favorite movie is Father of the Bride. And Steve Martin’s in that movie. Outside of that, I’m not really sure. No, she does love him. Yeah. Anytime you’re —

SLIM Wasn’t there like a COVID special Father the Bride?

PROTO Yeah, there was. Yeah, it was like Father of the Bride Part Two-ish or something. It’s terrible. It was like a Zoom call. [Danny laughs] All those stupid things they did. End it all.

SLIM So this episode is posting after Thanksgiving. You know, we took a week off. We told everybody in Discord, we’re taking a week off. It’s Thanksgiving. You know, the travels hectic. So we recorded this top secret earlier, so that we could, you know, relax that week. Because travel is stressful. You know, Danny do you usually travel the day before Thanksgiving like they did in this movie?

DANNY No, I don’t think I — I don’t think we’ve ever really traveled for Thanksgiving. Maybe like one of Casey’s relatives for one year. But everyone lives close to us. So her family’s here. My family’s here. We don’t have to travel for Thanksgiving. God bless.

SLIM Good lord.

DANNY Yeah, it’s nice.

SLIM Oh, God. Let’s get into Planes, Trains and Automobiles. 19 — what year is this? 1987. John Hughes. Ever heard of this guy? John Hughes. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Isn’t that one of your favorite movies Danny?

DANNY It is one of my favorites. Yes. There’s a weird Ferris Bueller crossover in this too, which I found interesting.

PROTO Interesting.

SLIM Breakfast Club. Sixteen Candles. Weird Science. Uncle Buck. Proto, what’s this movie? What is this thing?

PROTO So Planes, Trains and Automobiles takes place a few days before Thanksgiving. And Steve Martin is an executive who lives in Chicago but is working in New York City. He has to give back to his family. He has a flight to catch. He’s running a bit late. It’s two days before Thanksgiving any wants to get home. But he runs into some issues. You know, he’s trying to get to the airport. Has trouble getting a taxi, finally gets there. I think his flights delayed but then he gets on the flight. But then they get rerouted because of a blizzard, a storm, they can’t go straight to Chicago. So along this way he meets this other character played by John Candy and they really become inseparable against his will, against Neal Page’s will. You know, he ends up sharing a room with this guy. Doesn’t go the way he wanted it to. Some very disturbing things going on at night with John Candy, this guy. I mean, this is a nightmare, really, getting stuck in a room with a stranger. Could you imagine being in this situation? We’ll get into it. Then they get on a train, train breaks down. They have to walk, they have to hitchhike. Then they have to rent a car. Car doesn’t do so hot. But ultimately they do get to where they need to be, they get back home and then Neal welcomes John Candy, whatever his character’s name is, into his home to celebrate Thanksgiving and what a wonderful holiday what, you know, the festive spirit to invite someone into your home in that way. And that’s kind of the movie.

SLIM How ‘bout at the end of the movie when Steve Martin’s wife sobs after him being gone for two days. [Danny & Slim laughs] He gets home finally —

PROTO The look she gives him on the stairs.

SLIM It’s an amazing moment of the movie, but I thought back and like he’s been gone for what? Two days? [Slim laughs]

DANNY They were about the bone on the bottom step.

SLIM In front of everyone.

PROTO Yeah the look is like he just came back from the Great War. [Danny & Slim laugh]

SLIM It’s so unbelievable but it still works. It doesn’t make any sense, the end of this movie. Oh, golly. I was thinking, when I used to commute into New York. The day before Thanksgiving was always a nightmare commute on the train. It’s like sardines. You had to just assume that you were going to miss your first and second train because they’d be too full. And you just have to wait. Hated it. So Proto, did you grew up with this movie? Had you seen this before? Was this a yearly watch for you?

PROTO I had never seen this before. This was my first viewing. It’s true.

SLIM Wooowww. Okay. Danny, what about you?

DANNY This is one of those films where I would lie to say that I’ve seen it just so people to judge me. But this is my first viewing as well.

SLIM Oh my goodness gracious!

PROTO God bless.

SLIM What am monumental moment on this podcast. I’ve seen this a bunch of times. I think I grew up on this movie. I try to watch this yearly. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. This might be one of Amanda’s favorite movies. I can’t remember. So I have, you know, just every scene in this movie, I’ve seen many times. But yeah, this is just a feel good movie, in my opinion. Steve Martin, at the height of his prowess, I guess in the late 80s. John Candy. I mean, I don’t know otherwise. I just know my parents loved Steve Martin. I don’t really find him exceptionally funny myself. It was a different time.

DANNY You could never tell what year it is with Steve Martin. The dude’s looked the same forever.

SLIM He’s 25 in this movie, when he filmed it.

DANNY No he’s not.

PROTO Well, he’s completely gray. [Danny & Slim laugh]

SLIM Might as well have been! He’s ageless!

DANNY He’s been gray for 30, 40 years!

SLIM I know, you could say he’s like, late 20s in this movie, and people —

DANNY We’re watching Only Murders in the Building right now. The new Steve Martin TV show. And he looks the exact same. Just barely older than what he does look like in Planes, Trains. It’s wild! Movie magic.

SLIM Proto, what’s the one year first things that you jotted down on this first viewing of this film?

PROTO Well, my very first note in this is Kevin Bacon. Oh my God. [Danny laughs]

DANNY That’s what mine is too!

PROTO Why is Kevin Bacon in this movie? All of a sudden he appears, he’s in this foot race with Steve Martin. Yeah, a little cameo. I didn’t really know the timeline. So I’m like looking up Kevin Bacon’s, you know, filmography right now, like, was he a thing at this point? And yeah, he was. So people saw him and he just had this weird small bit part in this movie. Which is like a real, you know, kind of an idiotic scene that you know, there’s 2000 people on the street right now. What are the chances that these two guys see each other across the block? And there’s a cab 100 yards away and they’re the only ones going for it? But yeah, that was a nice little moment for Kevin.

SLIM He’s wearing green loafers and white socks in his suit. It’s a look at a half. It’s insane.

DANNY Well Kevin Bacon was my first note as well. But under that says Steve running. Steve Martin running it’s like when you take your the hand out of the Kermit Muppet and then just shake it by the neck. [Slim laughs] That’s what it looks like running down the street. I couldn’t get over the way he runs. But I know it’s for film but man, he looked like an idiot. Like who’s doing this anyway? Wait five extra seconds. The next taxi was right there.

SLIM The way he runs — full disclosure, I sent like four screenshots of him running into our DMs this week just to save it for future use. The way his legs move. I’ve never seen a human being’s legs move like a helicopter to the side. It’s like he’s Inspector Gadget and he’s about helicopter up off the floor.

PROTO Total ham. Ham job.

DANNY Oh man.

SLIM Let’s see, what’s in my notes here. Funnily enough my note is ‘he runs like a muppet.’ John Candy — I think John Candy is like a big blind spot for me. Everyone talks about Uncle Buck but for whatever reason that was never a movie that we really watched a ton but he’s reading the Canadian Mounted when they first meet each other. What a book. My god.

PROTO Amazing.

SLIM What do you think about John Candy, Proto?

PROTO John Candy. He really — he’s a force in this. His look is undeniable. That mustache that he has? His look is just like a character in itself. I was just fascinated with everything he did. Like he’s just like, really compelling as a person. He’s larger than life. He’s got a great presence. He’s so animated. And he’s very lovable. Like, I love John Candy. He’s great in this.

DANNY Yeah. It’s sort of crazy too like, his ability to be incredibly funny. But then like, turn on the waterworks when he’s in the hotel room. And he’s like, What You See Is What You Get. When when Steve was just ripping into him. Yeah, it’s like when they’re first one of their first not their first meetings, but like one of their big moments and like since the beginning of the movie, and then like he’s almost making John cry. I’m like man, chill out Steve! You asshole. Steve was just a big giant asshole in this movie.

PROTO That’s kind of his thing, though, isn’t it?

DANNY Is it? I don’t know.

PROTO Yes. Steve Martin, this is kind of like his character. You know what I thought of while watching this? I feel like he’s kind of who Ben Stiller became where, you know, you think of Meet the Parents is like the comedian who plays these roles where he’s kind of always getting shortchanged, put in these awkward positions. And that’s kind of Steve Martin. But Ben Stiller’s, like very endearing and kind of like, whoa is me, wimpy guy. But Steve Martin is kind of just like a jerk that all this stuff is happening to. He’s not very likable as a character at all. He just comes off as a very abrasive.

SLIM Oh, yeah. Meet the Parents. Man, I haven’t seen that in a long time. Imagine a Meet the Parents episode?

DANNY I hope not.

PROTO That’d be fun. [Slim laughs]

SLIM I hope not. Unreal. The one other thing that I noticed in this viewing was Steve Martin’s wife is almost like, not very accommodating to the strife that Steve Martin is going through during this trip. Like I think he calls her from like Wichita or something. And she doesn’t like ‘’Wait, you’re supposed to be on a flight to Chicago during a snowstorm but you’re in Wichita? What’s going on?’’ You moron. There’s a snowstorm in your city. Why else would he be not there right now? And she was like, griefing him. I was like, man, shut up.

PROTO Drag her.

[clip of Planes, Trains and Automobiles plays]

DANNY It was also wild to watch this kind of unfold in time where I can’t comprehend ever being in this scenario. No cell phones. Like zero way to contact someone on the spot. Like every situation, I feel like that Steve or Del, whatever his real name was, got into could have been solved the cell phone. It was just wild to me. The car rental or the the rebooking of a flight or just staying in contact with family. It was just, everything stressed me out because I can’t imagine being in this situation.

PROTO Yeah, having to wait in line to use a payphone or relying on just, you know, these credit these old credit card systems that I forgot about.

DANNY Oh my gosh. The swipe.

PROTO The swipe.

DANNY Holy cow.

SLIM It’s not hyperbole to say the iPhone is probably the most revolutionary thing to ever happen to our society on this planet. I mean, at this point. If a flight gets canceled, and I don’t have a cell phone. I’m dead in 24 hours. [Danny laughs] I’m finished. Like he’s trying to get a train, he’s trying to drive, they’re hitchhiking. I mean, it’s over! Like I can’t even comprehend what I would do at that point. I would just curl up.

PROTO When he gets left at the car rental lot, with no way of getting any help. He’s in the middle of nowhere. That was just like, that is terrifying, the thought. [Danny laughs]

DANNY This is a horror movie.

PROTO It really is. [Danny & Slim laughs]

SLIM How about when they’re on the plane and he’s sitting next to John Candy. I was just reading the Letterboxd synopsis for this movie about how it’s saying how like John Candy is so annoying and I just kind of just like already forgot. But he takes his shoes off. He’s rubbing his foot next to Steve Martin. Then he takes his sock off on the plane!

DANNY It’s so gross.

PROTO Oh my god.

SLIM Can you imagine that happening to you in that moment next to somebody? They’re rubbing their bare foot on an airplane? I’d probably die.

PROTO Yeah, at that point, you are not doing anything with this man. You know, he’s saying he can get you a hotel room. You know, you got to look back to where you just were. You were on a plane and this man went, he went nude on the foot in the plane, next to you. You’re not getting a motel with this guy.

SLIM How about when they get in the hotel and he’s trying to wash his face in that sink. And he’s washing his socks in the sink! [Danny & Slim laugh]

DANNY That bathroom was a nightmare. The wetness on the floor with the soggy towels. No, stop!

SLIM I forgot I wrote this note down. But it was about how this whole situation of like needing to get alternate travel back would just destroy me. And I was thinking back to when I was in a situation like this. And this is when I was — not to reference when I worked in New York City again, years ago. Back in my drinking days.

DANNY Executive.

SLIM I was so impaired that I tried to get an Uber home.

DANNY Oh no.

SLIM And I lived in North Jersey. It’s like a 40 minute train ride. And I was like, I’ll just get an Uber home. I’m not going to walk to the train. The Uber quote was like $500 to get back to where I was. [Slim laughs]

DANNY Did you buy it?

SLIM I think I just laid on the floor until something solved itself at that point. [Danny laughs] Proto, what else you got for this movie?

PROTO Well, my second note, and this is really the toughest part for me. But the music in this was eating me alive. I could not abide. Like my skin was crawling with this music. This soundtrack was destroying me. I could not — I could not handle it. It’s like one of the worst soundtracks I can remember experiencing. Just everything about this is just is so of the time and is like everything that I hate about that period that it was really rough. It’s really rough for me to listen to this. It just feels so ridiculous now.

SLIM Even one of the main soundtracks is just clips of Steve Martin in the background of the music from the movie.

DANNY One moment in this film where I was in tears, laughing so hard. And it was when they’re at the first hotel and they’re waiting outside for Gus’ son to pick him up. And Gus’ son shows up in the truck and he’s doing the nasal clearing and the face he makes and the noise that he makes. But then he like does it like three times but like in mid sentence. And John and Steve’s reaction to him. It’s just pure comedy. Like, you know, these guys have it in them and it’s just, it’s just so damn funny. I was in tears laughing so hard at that scene, and it’s so stupid. It’s a throwaway scene, but man, just tickled me. It just got me good.

SLIM I have two lines, their reaction to Gus spitting and his face hucking a loogey. [Danny laughs]

DANNY Right?

SLIM It’s so good. And also the editing in that is also very good because there are a few times where he sees John Candy reading that book, Canadian Mounted, and the like quick shots of John Candy realizing — Steve Martin’s like ‘’Where have I seen you before?’’ And John Candy realizes that it was like when he took his cab and they quick cut to John Candy’s face like in the cab in that original moment. And then also when they’re driving through the two trucks, and it flashed — they’re so scared, they’re yelling that they’re going to die. It flashes to their skeletons in the car! Oh my God!

DANNY And John is the devil. [Danny & Slim laugh] It’s so stupid. It’s so funny.

SLIM So smart. So well done.

PROTO That was my favorite part of the movie. I mean, it’s so stupid. There’s so much in this that is so stupid. But him getting his his coat hooked on the turners or whatever they — the seat adjustments. First the one arm and then he gets both arms. [Proto & Danny laugh]

DANNY It’s so stupid!

PROTO It’s so stupid but just the way John like, performs in that scene I was dying. It was really funny.

DANNY So funny. That’s literally my next note was the jacket scene. It’s so good. He just has — everything is on John’s face. John’s facial expressions just kill me. Absolutely sending me. It’s just incredible.

SLIM The scene that happened earlier that you referenced where Steve Martin is like destroying John Candy. And then he gives that speech about how I’m not changing. I like me. My wife likes me. That’s just so good. So good in that moment, and it just works so well.

[clip of Planes, Trains and Automobiles plays]

SLIM And then right after that is when they’re sharing the bed together and how he says, you know, his hand is in between his two pillows. [Danny & Slim laugh]

DANNY Why are you kissing my ear?

SLIM So good. One other thing that I wrote down is like a weird bygone era was right before they get on that trains you notice there’s just like a flaming trash can for heat right next to the train station.

DANNY No!

SLIM So bizarre.

PROTO Oh, you mentioned that fight scene. I thought that was such a weird scene and so out of place in this movie. Especially because Steve Martin, he goes for like two or three minutes just railing into John. It was very strange, I thought. But then they get into like a little tiff later. I forget I forget when but I think they’re just like talking about things that are annoying. And then John Candy he says ‘’Oh yeah, well you play with your balls a lot.’’ [Danny laughs] What an insult to throw at somebody. Unbelievable.

DANNY And then he comes back with it too. He comes back with that and he says ‘’You know what I could use right now?’’ And he’s like ‘’Another hand and another sack.’’ [Danny & Slim laugh] So stupid.

SLIM I mean, remember when his credit cards are burned up and he tries paying with them? Cripes, I did love his Casio watch.

DANNY I knew you would. I knew you would.

SLIM I spotted that real quick. And then there’s a big reveal, you know, John Candy’s wife has been dead for eight years. You know, they try to go their separate ways. And he realizes that he’s actually not going anywhere. He’s just like staying in the train station. And I remember that when I was when I first watched this movie but I love that reveal. You know, John Candy hasn’t been home for years. He’s just kind of traveling by himself. What’d you think Danny?

DANNY What an insane like, I mean, have you ever traveled with a framed photo of your wife to put next to your bed? Like how wild was that? I just like, I’ve never done that. But you just believe that, because he talks about much he loves his wife. And you know, it’s the best thing and then you get to the end you find out she’s been dead for eight years and he hasn’t been home! I was like, this is not what I expected how this movie to end. I expected John to be falling through the Thanksgiving table and slapstick something but then it ends up, you know, them becoming friends, going to family dinner together, waterworks. I was like, excuse me. I did not expect this.

PROTO Yeah, I didn’t really like it. I didn’t really like a lot of the tone of this movie. It’s like, hey, it’s Thanksgiving. Let’s sit down and watch someone’s absolute nightmare for a holiday. That’ll be a fun idea. I mean, it’s funny, but like, it’s so miserable also at the same time. And then at the end he’s like, Marie’s been dead for eight years. It’s like, is that really necessary? Like why are you doing this? Why are you putting this in this movie? I don’t know. I just thought it was so bizarre to end the movie this way.

SLIM It’s funny that you have a polar opposite reaction because I did scan Letterboxd to see what the consensus is. And it’s pretty split in our group. I think like Ian has a three and a half. Even Dale, producer emeritus of the podcast, has it for three and a half. I would have thought that this would have been like a five banger for Dale or something or even like at least a four. But not the case. So it does seem that this isn’t like one of those, you know, universally beloved holiday films as much as I would have thought, at least.

A podcast for film lovers, inspired by Letterboxd.