Top Five: ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles’

Amanda Kirkham

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) is my favorite Thanksgiving film. It’s really one of the only films about the holiday but that’s beside the point. It tells the story of Neal Page (Steve Martin), a man trying to get from New York to Chicago two days before Thanksgiving, which is pretty intense considering the obstacles most travelers face around this time of year. He reluctantly teams up with a fellow traveler, Del Griffith (John Candy). As they struggle to reach Chicago before Thursday, they face delayed flights, broken down trains, and a few other unfortunate hurdles. This is a hilarious and heartwarming film about an often overlooked holiday. This week I list my Top Five Funniest Moments From Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

5. Dogs Are Barking

After finally getting on the plane, and being bumped from First Class, Neal is stuck sitting next to Del, who proves to be exactly the kind of person you wouldn’t want to be next to on a flight. Del chats with Neal for a minute before Neal gives him a very clear sign that he doesn’t want to talk. Del then rambles about those “chowder heads” who just don’t know when to shut up (i.e. himself) before falling asleep on Neal’s shoulder. Oh, and he takes off his shoes and socks (ew)!

4. Those Aren’t Pillows!

Neal and Del’s flight gets diverted to Wichita, KS due to extreme weather. Neal tries waiting it out but by the time the flight cancellation is announced and he tries to find a room, all of them have been booked. Del tells him he got a room right when they landed and he’s sure his buddy at the hotel will hook him up with one. However, once they get there and after they pay, it’s revealed that that was the last room. They decide to share it and after an awkward night they wake up in an embarrassing situation, having had to share the only bed in the room.

3. Came Out Sideways

Having missed booking another flight home, Neal and Del hitch a ride with the hotel manager’s son to the train station. He arrives to pick them up and there is a hysterical bit with his wife, as the guys try to just get in the car and go.

2. A F***ing Car

Poor Neal. He has finally reached his breaking point after ending up yet again stuck when the train breaks down. He and Del hitch a ride on a bus to the airport, where after an uncomfortable meal that leaves harsh words between them, they part ways. He tries renting a car but unfortunately the tram to the cars leaves him stranded in the middle of nowhere with keys to a car that turns out to not be there. He walks back, crossing a runway and releases all of his frustration on the chipper agent behind the counter in a most amusing fashion.


1. Going the Wrong Way

Lucky for Neal, Del was there to offer a ride when his car didn’t appear at the rental agency and he couldn’t get another. As they travel by automobile, they take turns with driving duties. When it’s Del’s turn, Neal falls asleep in the passenger seat, unaware of the slight problem Del is having when he tries taking off his jacket. He gets stuck on the seat and only frees himself after a little struggle and spin out off the freeway. They get back on their way though, oblivious to the fact that they’ve re-entered the wrong way.


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