Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) - Rotten Tomatoes

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)



Critic Consensus: Thanks to the impeccable chemistry between Steve Martin and John Candy, as well as a deft mix of humor and heart, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a hilarious, heartfelt holiday classic.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Were it not for its profanity-laden opening scenes, John Hughes' Planes, Trains and Automobiles might have been suitable family entertainment: certainly it's heaps less violent and mean-spirited than Hughes' Home Alone. En route to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with his family, easily annoyed businessman Neal Page (Steve Martin) finds his first-class plane ticket has been demoted to coach, and he must share his flight with obnoxious salesman Del Griffith (John Candy). A sudden snowstorm in Chicago forces the plane to land in Wichita. Unable to find a room in any of the four-star hotels, Neal is compelled to accept Del's invitation to share his accommodations in a cheapo-sleazo motel. Driven to distraction by Del's annoying personal habits, the ungrateful Neal lets forth with a stream of verbal abuse. That's when Del delivers the anticipated (but always welcome) "I don't judge, why should you?"-type speech so common to John Hughes flicks. The shamefaced Neal tries to make up to Del, but there's a bumpy time ahead as the mismatched pair make their way back to Chicago, first in a balky train, then by way of a refrigerator truck. We know from the outset that the oil-and-water Neal and Del will be bosom companions by the end of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but it's still a fun ride. The best bit: a half-asleep Del thinking that he's got his hand tucked between two pillows -- until his bedmate, Neal, bellows "Those aren't pillows!" ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: R (adult situations/language)
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: John Hughes
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 21, 2000
Paramount Pictures


Steve Martin
as Neal Page
John Candy
as Del Griffith
Michael McKean
as State Trooper
Edie McClurg
as Car Rental Agent
Kevin Bacon
as Taxi racer
Laila Robins
as Susan Page
Carol Bruce
as Joy Page
Martin Ferrero
as Motel Clerk
Matthew Lawrence
as Little Neal Page
George Petrie
as Martin Page
Gary Riley
as Motel Thief
Lyman Ward
as John Dole
Nicholas Wyman
as New Your Lawyer
Ben Stein
as Wichita Airport Repr...
Lulie Newcomb
as Owen's Wife
John Randolph Jones
as Cab Dispatcher
Gaetano Lisi
as Cab Driver - New Yor...
Diana Castle
as Stewardess
Bill Erwin
as Man on Plane
Ruth de Sosa
as New York Ticket Agen...
Grant Forsberg
as Brand Manager
John Moio
as Screaming Driver
Victoria Vanderkloot
as Screaming Driver's W...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Critic Reviews for Planes, Trains and Automobiles

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (10)

Pretty dispensable.

Full Review… | July 26, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It is, of course, always a pleasure to watch Martin's steam-gauge face register his rising internal pressures and to witness his exquisitely expressed blowoffs. But Candy offers even more insinuating delights.

Full Review… | November 21, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Man versus technology has been one of the staples of screen comedy since the earliest silent days, and Hughes makes the most of the format here packing as many of the frustrations of modern life as he can into this calamitous travelog of roadside America.

Full Review… | November 21, 2008
Top Critic

Essentially, it's the stars' keenly observed nuances of character that make this comedy amiable enough.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The film does have its scattered moments. But too often, the audience has as much reason as Del and Neal do to wonder where, if anywhere, they are going.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Planes,Trains and Automobiles is a very funny film.

Full Review… | December 24, 2013
Daily Telegraph

Audience Reviews for Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Steve Martin had no reason to panic...until John Candy came along.

Good Comedy! Steve Martin and John Candy don't just act; they embody themselves so deeply in their characters that it almost sets a standard for how comedic pairings should be. Planes... is a heart warming film about family, friendship and good will towards men. It is also a wickedly funny movie and it will stand the test of time and I think in 30 or 40 years from now, it may be looked upon as Hughes best film. Candy and Martin are wonderful in here and it is really a treat to watch them work together.

All that Neal Page wants to do is to get home for Thanksgiving. His flight has been cancelled due to bad weather, so he decides on other means of transport. As well as bad luck, Neal is blessed with the presence of Del Griffith, Shower Curtain Ring Salesman and all-around blabbermouth, who is never short of advice, conversation, bad jokes, or company. And when he decides that he is going the same direction as Neal....

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer


Del: You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I'm an easy target. Yeah, you're right, I talk too much. I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you... but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. Well, you think what you want about me; I'm not changing. I like... I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. 'Cause I'm the real article. What you see is what you get. 

"What he really wanted was to spend Thanksgiving with his family. What he got was three days with the turkey."

In ways, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles was exactly what I thought it would be; extremely hilarious, with some solid dialogue, weird situations, and slapstick humor. In other ways, it wasn't at all like I thought it would be, mainly because of a heart warming ending, which was actually really well done. Combining what I expected and what I didn't together, this film was better than I could have imagined. It doesn't only work because of one or two reasons, but numerous ones. 

Neal is New York for meeting two days before Thanksgiving and expects to make it back to Chicago on the 6 pm flight. When that winds up being delayed and then re-routed to Wichita, Kansas, he his in for the trip of a life time. The whole way, he has Del with him and that only makes matters worse for Neal. Del is one of those guys who never shuts up and spends the entire runtime driving Neal crazy. The story sees the two travel half way across the country, then halfway across again to get home. Along the way, they get into weird situation after weird situation. Will Neal get home in time for Thanksgiving?

A major reason this film works so well is the comedic brilliance of Steve Martin and John Candy. They are both doing some of the best work of their careers together here. Their screen presence is brilliant and they're so in synch with one another.  This is one of my new favorite John Hughes movies too. It's right up there with The Breakfast Club. 

It's easy to see why Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is such a beloved classic. It's beyond funny, it's smart while being stupid at the same time, and it has a heart that few comedies like this do. It seems like a movie in the hands of someone else, would have just been mean spirited. But it isn't. Through everything that happens to these two characters, there's always a sense of "feel good" spirit radiating from every inch of the film. It's a must, must see.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Possibly THE best Martin and Candy comedy made, so many classic laughs, classic dialog and some classic scenes which are simply perfect comedy played out by two perfect comedians.
On top of that you have the usual excellent soundtrack to really bring home that road trip feel, the whole film has that lovely cozy Christmas glow (I know its Thanksgiving hehe) to it which Hughes seems to manage in all his films. Again he manages to create a very warm kind heart to his film which is brought home by the quite beautiful ending which always brings a smile to your face as you wipe away the odd tear.

Near enough the perfect comedy, no joke, it really is everything you could want from a film, the only problem is I always want to see more adventures from the duo.

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Quotes

– Submitted by David E (23 months ago)
– Submitted by David E (23 months ago)
– Submitted by David E (23 months ago)
– Submitted by David E (23 months ago)

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