There aren’t many more ways to say this, but it’s been a helluva year. For some people it takes some help from Jack or Jose to make it through the holidays, what with all the arguments about money, morals, politics, and side dishes (or side pieces if you’re especially unlucky). And those are under normal circumstances. If you typically rely solely on the help of a heavy pour or three, why not kick it up a notch with some good old fashioned comedy with a splash of heart.
Calling Planes, Trains, and Automobiles the greatest Thanksgiving movie is a low bar to set, because what else is there? I would argue that it’s a Top 5 ALL-TIME comedy with the greatest comedic pairing you’ll ever feast (hey-oh) your eyes on. John Hughes wrote a ton of great comedies in the 80s and 90s, from Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club to The Great Outdoors and Christmas Vacation, but this little gem is his most often overlooked slice (I’m on a roll!) of genius.
The story follows Neal Page (Martin), an overworked and under-appreciated business man trying to get back to his family for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, he misses his flight and has to rely on a bevy of transportation to complete his journey. At every turn, he runs into Del Griffith (Candy), a gregarious shower curtain ring salesman, who can’t seem to get out of Neal’s way. Hijinks ensue, and you’ll find yourself alternating between laughing and crying (and laugh-crying). In the end, you’ll vow to yourself that you’ll watch this every Thanksgiving after the chaos has died down, and it’s just you and plate of leftovers burning the midnight oil.
Sometimes it’s the escapism, and others it’s the nostalgia of something reliable, but I swear to you that I’ve watched this movie every year on Thanksgiving since I was about 10 years old (I don’t know if I’d recommend it for kids that young). It’s a movie that formed a bond between my father and me, and it’s one that I share with the missus now.
So if you’re feeling like the world is on fire (it is) and you have nothing to help you make it through, just know that Planes, Trains, and Automobiles will always be there for you to provide the laughter 2020 has torn from our souls.