As I mentioned, in honor of the long Thanksgiving weekend, I am adding an extra day of movie picks. My first pick is a particular favorite with the boys in my house. But I like it as well because John Hughes’ 1987 Planes, Trains and Automobiles is not only hilarious but also a touching film. The madcap humor of its comedic stars, Steve Martin and John Candy, is enhanced by their terrific on-screen chemistry and offset by the depth of John Candy’s character and the poignant ending. If you have never seen it, the plot is simple. Steve Martin is a businessman stranded at La Guardia trying to get home to his family in Chicago for Thanksgiving. He meets up with shower curtain ring salesman Candy and the movie chronicles their Murphy’s law cursed cross country trip back to Chicago. You can only imagine the situations that Hughes created for his bumbling duo. But it’s too bad that the R rating prevents younger kids from watching this movie because there’s a terrific message hidden in this very amusing comedy.
On a completely different note, is my next pick, Woody Allen’s classic Hannah and Her Sisters from 1986. Many fans consider this Allen’s finest film for good reason. Beginning with a large family Thanksgiving dinner, the character development and interaction are incredible and you follow the dynamics of this complex family from its highs of exuberant laughter and love to the depths of disappointment and despair. In his New York Times review, the estimable Vincent Canby said, ” ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’ has the narrative scope of a novel. … With this film, it’s apparent that Mr. Allen has become the urban poet of our anxious age – skeptical, guiltily bourgeois, longing for answers to impossible questions, but not yet willing to chuck a universe that can produce the Marx Brothers.” The movie has an amazing cast with, aside from Mr. Allen, Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest and Barbara Hershey as the three sisters, Michael Caine, Max von Sydow, Lloyd Nolan and Maureen O’Sullivan (Farrow’s real life mother). In addition, the film is beautifully photographed by Carlo Di Palma with a wonderfully urbane jazzy soundtrack. For a sophisticated contemporary dramatic comedy, it doesn’t get much better than this.