Planes, Trains and Automobiles parents guide

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Parent Guide

Although featuring plenty of comedic shtick, this road trip comes with some large profanity potholes.

Overall B-

Neal Page's (Steve Martin) plans for Thanksgiving get detoured. First by bad weather, and then by a not-so-helpful stranger (John Candy) he meets while trying to find an alternative mode of transportation to get home for the holiday.

Release date November 25, 1987

Violence B
Sexual Content B-
Profanity D-
Substance Use C

Why is Planes, Trains and Automobiles rated R? The MPAA rated Planes, Trains and Automobiles R

Run Time: 93 minutes

Parent Movie Review

The US Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times of the calendar year. Conveyance of the bustling crowds is further complicated by the possibility of bad weather, which affects much of the country during that third week of November. Knowing these facts, Neal Page (Steve Martin) books his airplane ticket out of New York City well in advance. Allowing two day’s grace, the well-organized businessman feels confident nothing can stop him from getting to Chicago in time to share the season’s festivities with his family.

He couldn’t be more wrong. Right from the beginning, his careful plans go awry. First, his board meeting runs overtime. Next, he must fight the rush hour masses to get a cab to the airport. (Look for Kevin Bacon’s cameo appearance during his race through Manhattan’s traffic.) And when he finally gets to JFK, he learns his flight has been delayed due to a snowstorm.

Yet those hurtles prove small compared to the giant obstacle he encounters next. While waiting in the terminal Neal catches sight of the downtown stranger who stole his taxi. Instead of a proper apology, the jovial salesman introduces himself as Del Griffith (John Candy) and offers friendship with a handshake. Neal tries to brush him off, but the bulky blabbermouth sticks like static cling.

In comedic fashion, the plot thwarts Neal’s every attempt to get home – and almost always the circumstances are complicated by the well-meaning, but misguided assistance provided by the persistently-present Del. Even switching modes of transportation from planes, to trains and automobiles, doesn’t help Neal get to his destination, or get rid of Del, any faster.

During their days on the road together, the unlikely pair destroys vehicles and property, gets robbed, and reluctantly shares accommodations. Depictions of reckless driving, creative ways to raise money and invasion of personal space detour into road violence, verbal assaults, fist fights, crude bathroom humor and sexual innuendo. As well, the script contains a blizzard of profanities, including one scene where the sexual expletive is used 19 times. (This frequent strong language also accounts for the movie’s R-rating.)

Despite this mature content, Planes, Trains and Automobiles has become a perennial favorite. Written and directed by John Hughes, it presents a fun premise and features great shtick delivered by Martin and Candy. Yet family viewers should proceed with caution because the baggage of the undesirable content tends to encumber the film’s feel-good ending just as incessantly as Del Griffith derails Neal Page.

Directed by John Hughes. Starring Steve Martin, John Candy. Running time: 93 minutes. Theatrical release November 25, 1987. Updated

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Rating & Content Info

Why is Planes, Trains and Automobiles rated R? Planes, Trains and Automobiles is rated R by the MPAA

Violence: Reckless and distracted driving, along with careless pedestrian behavior, nearly cause several accidents. In one instance, a car almost drives over the head of a man who has fallen on the roadway.Characters watch a few minutes of a horror movie and see a woman screaming. A character is casual with the use of cigarettes and lighters, and causes a fire. Various vehicles experience breakdowns and collisions: one catches on fire. Property damage occurs. A man breaks into a room and steals money. Characters tell lies. Characters get into physical altercations: a man is punched, another is hit in the groin.

Sexual Content: Sexual images/photos are seen on the cover of a book and as clippings that have been pinned to the interior of a car. Background characters are seen kissing passionately. Two men reluctantly share a double bed in a hotel room and are appalled when they wake up and discover they are cuddled together. A man is in a shower is seen naked from the waist up. Childbirth is mentioned. A couple embraces and kisses. Sexual remarks and innuendo are heard.

Profanity: A strong sexual expletive is repeated 19 times. Frequent use of mild and moderate profanities, scatological slang and terms of deity. Sexual banter and crude slang for anatomy are heard, along with name-calling and spiteful words. Bathroom humor is depicted.

Alcohol / Drug Use: A character offers to buy another a drink. Smoking is depicted throughout the film. A man chews and spits tobacco.

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More parents' guide for Planes, Trains and Automobiles after the break...

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Parents' Guide

Del tells Neal he should, “Like your work, and love your wife.” What is he trying to say about balancing life’s priorities? How do you feel about his words of advice?

What would you do if you had to deal with a clingy stranger? What things does Del observe about Neal’s unenthusiastic friendship? What does Neal learn about Del over time? Why is Del faster at seeing beyond outward appearances than Neal?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Planes, Trains and Automobiles movie is October 10, 2017. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: Planes, Trains and Automobiles: 30th Anniversary Edition
Release Date: 10 October 2017
Planes, Trains and Automobiles releases in a 30th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray, DVD + Digital Copy) with the following bonus features:
- Getting There is Half the Fun: The Story of Planes Trains and Automobiles
- John Hughes for Adults
- A Tribute to John Candy
- Deleted Scene
- John Hughes: Life Moves Pretty Fast

Related home video titles:

Steve Martin also stars in Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II. John Candy can be seen in Cool Runnings. The creative talents of John Hughes can be found in the movies Home Alone, Breakfast Club and the 1994 Miracle on 34th Street.

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