5 Reasons Planes, Trains and Automobiles Is the Best Holiday Movie Ever

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles exaggerates the ordeal in service of laughs, but it’s only funny because we recognize the kernel of truth: holiday travel sucks. It’s the single worst part of the deal. Which is why we silently nod when Neal finally breaks and goes on his f-bomb laced diatribe. 

And then there’s the awkward sleeping arrangements when you arrive at your destination. No matter how much it costs, a mattress you inflate like a pool raft is not meant for adults. Still, it’s better than sharing a twin with a sweaty stranger and waking up to him spooning you and your pillows.

2. The Amazing One-Liners

Strictly speaking, being funny doesn’t make a movie more of a holiday film. But great movies need something other than the occasion itself to put them over the top. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles would work as straight drama, but the comedic elements elevate the stakes while also acting as palate cleansers. We also naturally like people who make us laugh. Without the jokes, Neal would just be an up-tight jerk. Even with them, Del can be pretty annoying. The situational comedy helps us empathize with these forlorn travelers. But the things Neal and Del say and do make us love them. 

We silently cheer when Del gets comfortable enough with Neal to rib him good-naturedly while the men are driving to Chicago. “You play with your balls a lot. Larry Bird doesn’t do as much ball-handling in one night as you do in one hour.” Hilarious and also a sneaky bit of character-building (next time you watch the film, see if you can spot Neal playing pocket pool). But the single best line of the film belongs to Neal, who delivers this all-timer after being stranded in a rental car lot. “If I wanted a joke, I’d follow you into the john and watch you take a leak.”

3. The Nostalgia for Home at the Holidays

Yes, holiday travel sucks. But there’s a reason we willingly subject ourselves to it. It’s the wistful nostalgia Perry Como sings of in “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays.” Suddenly and practically all at once, we would do almost anything to be home again, surrounded by our loved ones, and maybe eating some homemade pumpkin pie.

More than any other holiday film, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is about nostalgia for home, and how home seems so much sweeter the further away we are. Neal only endures all the travel shenanigans because he’s so desperate to reach the smiling faces at the end of this meandering yellow brick road.

You May Also Like

Is There A Post-Credits Scene In The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special?

While most of the attention for the Holiday Special is on Drax…

The Fabelmans Reveals How Steven Spielberg Sees Us

Not only does it flatter Logan’s ego, but it captures the imagination…

Ty Burrell Compares Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy To A Dog

As “Modern Family” began its run on television, Phil Dunphy actor Ty…

James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special Is Full Of DC Easter Eggs

One of the most striking references to Marvel’s chief competitor, DC, comes…

The Best Marvel Gifts For Holiday Season 2023 From Toynk

Starting off, we have what any good night, afternoon or, even morning,…

Supernatural’s Misha Collins Was Just As Surprised As The Rest Of Us When Cas Became Lucifer

As “Supernatural” approached its small screen conclusion, Misha Collins was interviewed by…

Black Friday Gifts: Best Geek Stocking Stuffers

The holidays are upon us, but there’s no need to panic. Instead…

Who Voices Cosmo In The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special?

Fans of Prime Video’s “Borat” sequel “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious…