The Set of 400: #373 – My Favorite Car Rental Agency Smackdown

Today! Because those aren’t pillows –

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

Directed by John Hughes

Starring Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins, Michael McKean (x2), Dylan Baker, Kevin Bacon, Diana Douglas, Larry Hankin, Richard Herd, Edie McClurg, Matthew Lawrence, Martin Ferrero, Bill Erwin, Ben Stein

In the only movie that they share screen time, Martin and Candy are a terrifically funny team in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (They are both funny in Little Shop of Horrors, too, but not together!). It seems like they should’ve crossed over more, right? The old SNL/SCTV staples have overlapping credits in most of their ’80s films – with Rick Moranis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase – but this is their only co-starring flick. Shame! They are hilarious together in John Hughes excellent foray into R-rated comedy. Its got a standard mis-matched anti-buddy road trip plot, both trying to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving, thrown together out of convenience, but significantly enhanced by the interplay between Candy’s good-natured if irritating salesman Del and Martin’s alternately simmering/volcanic executive. And for all the set pieces along the way, and the consistently solid laughs, it also features one of the more heartbreaking endings of an ’80s comedy. I’m often a lump-throated mess by the time the credits get rolling on this one.

Un-awarded in its day, this team-up of comedy legends certainly deserves some hardware (well, via software), so how about Best Melted Speedometer? You don’t see that one in every film! I’d also like to give some acknowledgement to the tight 93 minute run time – in and of itself, nothing remarkable, except when you consider that rumors persist the original cut of the movie was nearly four hours. So, Best Gutted Road Trippery! And lastly, the very Chicago-specific Best CTA Lasalle/Van Buren L Station Cameo! 

Laverne & Shirley/Saturday Night Live alum Michael McKean makes his second appearance, following his smarmy work in #389’s Memoirs of an Invisible ManSpotlight!

Seen here in the excellent X-Files episode “Dreamland”

Coming tomorrow! We’re smoking reefer and you don’t want no part of this shit –

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