Planes, Trains & Automobiles (11/18/12 & 12/28/12)

Planes, Trains & AutomobilesMovie Two Hundred Sixty Five and Two Hundred Ninety Nine

An ad executive desperately tries to get home to Chicago from New York in time for Thanksgiving in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Two days before Thanksgiving, Neal Page (Steve Martin),an ad executive, is in New York on a business meeting trying to catch his plane back to Chicago to be with his family. While trying to snatch a cab from a sleazy lawyer, someone else gets in and Neal chases after it, startling the passenger. At the airport, Neal arrives at the gate just in time but the flight is delayed. While waiting, he sees the man that stole his cab and finds out his name is Del Griffith (John Candy), a shower ring salesman. Neal is annoyed by Del but after a string of bad luck and misfortunes, the two stick together trying to get back to Chicago.

I skipped ahead to make sure this one got published in time for Thanksgiving. I hate summarizing comedies because it’s impossible to make a movie sound funny in a paragraph talking about the plot. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a film that is funny regardless of the season, but there aren’t a ton of Thanksgiving movies out there so why not watch it around this time of year? The ‘everything that can go wrong, will go wrong’ series of events always has me in stitches and individually, Martin and Candy are two of my favorite comedic actors, so naturally, together they are a riot.

There are scenes in Planes, Trains and Automobiles that make me laugh uncontrollably every single time I see it. It’s not that the moments are a surprise, they are just completely hilarious to me. The series of events that befall Neal and Del is always a bit of a surprise to me since I never quite remember the exact order of everything, which helps keep Planes, Trains and Automobiles fresh regardless of how many times I’ve seen it. As with most other John Hughes movies, Planes, Trains and Automobiles has a heart to it between all the comedy and if you’ve never seen the film before, the ending may surprise you.

A while back, I wrote about another Hughes/Candy film, Uncle Buck, where I state that it’s my second favorite Candy film after this one and watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles again solidifies that point for me. Hughes had such a talent for writing and directing and he and Candy worked amazingly well together. Not only is Planes, Trains and Automobiles one of the finest films of both their careers, it’s one of my favorite comedies ever.

I give it 5 “those aren’t pillows!” out of 5.

Happy Thanksgiving!

PS – It kills me to write out the title of the film with an Oxford comma

[Update] I was lucky enough to get to see Planes, Trains and Automobiles at a midnight showing in a theater and it was better than I imagined. The owner of the theater even got dressed up as Del Griffith (check out my Facebook page for a picture). While my eyelids started getting heavy after their car burns, the whole movie was a joy to see in the theater. Candy and Martin’s expressions and movements were somehow exaggerated and I thought the film was even funnier than normal. We had a great time.

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Little Shop of Horrors (10/16/12)

Little Shop of HorrorsMovie Two Hundred Thirty Five

In Little Shop of Horrors, a man finds a mysterious plant that becomes a huge sensation but has a unique appetite.

Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) is a nerdy man working in a small, failing flower shop alongside the owner, Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia), and the woman he secretly fancies, Audrey (Ellen Greene). One day, after an unexpected solar eclipse, Seymour finds a strange little plant  and dubs it Audrey II. After they decide to put Audrey II in the window of the shop, the little plant draws a huge crowd. The plant soon gets sick and starts wilting and Seymour finds the plant has a taste for blood. When the plant grows too large for sucking on Seymour’s pricked fingers, Seymour learns that Audrey II can talk and it is demanding more than just a few drops of blood.

Although Little Shop of Horrors is kind of a remake of the 1960 Roger Corman film of the same title, this 1986 version is actually the film version of the off-Broadway musical. Director Frank Oz, who worked as a puppeteer with Jim Henson, captures both the comedy and horror – as well as the music – in a brilliant mix. Oz’s background in puppeteering makes Audrey II really shine, and even close to 20 years after its release, the effects still look pretty great.

However, the stars of Little Shop of Horrors for me not the effects but are actually the cameos; We have Christopher Guest, Steve Martin, John Candy, Bill Murray, and Jim Belushi all making guest appearances. Since Bill Murray is a god, he pretty much makes every film a masterwork. Considering my general distaste of musicals, Little Shop of Horrors has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. The songs are fun, funny, unique, and catchy. My wife, who had never seen Little Shop of Horrors before, and I were both still singing Skid Row a week after watching it. The voice work for Audrey II was done by musician Levi Stubbs, who has such a unique voice that gives the man-eating plant a Motown swagger that is both hilarious, menacing, and fun to listen to.

Little Shop of Horrors has been a favorite of mine since I was young and though I hadn’t seen it in far too long, I still remembered much of the music and admittedly “got” more of the humor as an adult. The film has held up better than I expected, actually. The recently released blu-ray gives this film the love it deserves and even includes the cut, original ending. Little Shop of Horrors is still a unique film experience (where else can you find a musical about a man-eating plant?) and the music will likely get your toes tapping.

I give it 5 “Feed Me, Seymour”s out of 5.

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