November 27, 2021

A Thanksgiving weekend movie recommendation


Dear PERF member,

It’s the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, and honestly, I need a break from policing. Maybe you do too. Truth be told, it’s been a pretty challenging year. So here is my gift to you this weekend.

My family loves movies, and this time of the year, we look forward to watching one particular movie. Planes, Trains and Automobiles, with Steve Martin and John Candy, is that rare comedy that’s really about the human condition.

And for those of you (like me) who do a lot of traveling, the movie is about all the ways that travel can be a nightmare.

Steve Martin plays a high-strung advertising executive who just finished a meeting in Manhattan and is rushing to catch a flight home to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving.  John Candy steals Steve Martin’s cab, but Martin manages to get to the airport – only to find that Candy is waiting in line for the same flight. Martin gets bumped from First Class to Coach, and who is in the seat next to him? John Candy. Things  get worse when the flight gets diverted to Wichita, Kansas.

You get the idea. Martin and Candy end up making the trip together as they struggle to get to Chicago. Candy, a shower curtain ring salesman, talks incessantly and annoys Martin at every turn.

For those of us who travel, many of the scenes in the movie are familiar. You know that feeling  when you look up at the board in the airport, and all the flights to your destination are cancelled.  Or you have to sit next to some passenger who won’t stop talking. Or you get to the parking lot and forget where you left your car. (You don’t make that mistake twice!)  Or you get the last car at the rental agency and it smells of cigarette smoke.

I won’t spoil the movie for you, but these two characters who are so dissimilar somehow find the real meaning of Thanksgiving. The ending scene, which takes place on an El station in Chicago’s Loop, still gets to me, even though I’ve seen it a dozen times.

So this is a slapstick comedy, but ultimately it’s a movie with heart.  Essentially it’s about the serendipitous meeting of two polar opposites. While we laugh, we’re also reminded of the importance of tolerance and trying to see things through the eyes of people we don’t always agree with. At a time when the world seems so divisive and mean-spirited, this movie appeals to our better angels.

You can rent this movie on Amazon Prime, or it may be available on AMC if you get that channel. I promise that you’ll  have one great evening.

Thanks for all you do, and have a great weekend.