John Hughes has come up with an effective nightmare-as-comedy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Disaster-prone duo of Steve Martin and John Candy repeatedly recall a contemporary Laurel & Hardy as they agonizingly try to make their way from New York to Chicago by various modes of transport.
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.
An ultimte situation comedy, tale throws together Martin, an ad exec, and Candy, a shower curtain ring salesman, as they head home from Manhattan to their respective homes in Chicago two days before Thanksgiving.
The problems start before they even get out of midtown. From there, it’s a series of ghastly motel rooms, crowded anonymous restaurants, a sinister cab ride, an abortive train trip, an even worse excursion by rented car, some hitchhiking by truck, and, finally, a hop on the ‘El’ before sitting down to turkey.