Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, 1987.

Directed by John Hughes.
Starring Steve Martin, John Candy, Michael McKean, Laila Robins, Dylan Baker and Kevin Bacon.


Planes, Trains and Automobiles takes another spin on disc, this time in a 4K UltraHD edition that includes a Blu-ray with 75 minutes of newly found deleted footage. Paramount ported over the rest of the bonus features from previous editions, and the picture quality looks better than the film’s previous forays on Blu-ray.

When I reviewed Planes, Trains and Automobiles on Blu-ray last year, I remarked: “[John] Hughes once said that there are a lot more deleted scenes from the movie locked away in one of Paramount’s vaults. Hopefully they will show up on a future home video release.”

Hope and ye shall receive. In the process of putting together this new 4K Ultra HD edition of the film, Paramount dug up 75 minutes worth of deleted and extended scenes. Nearly all of the footage was culled from VHS tapes found in Hughes’ archives, according to the preamble that appears before it, and the video and sound quality isn’t great for a lot of it. Much of it is also pan-and-scan. The only exception is the airline food scene that’s been included in past home video editions.

But, hey, you take what you can get, and in this case, you get many more humorous moments between stars John Candy and Steve Martin as their characters endure a series of mishaps while trying to get home for Thanksgiving. 

Candy plays outgoing shower curtain ring salesman Del Griffith while Martin takes on the role of Neal Page, a reserved marketing executive who’d rather be left alone. Of course, the pair end up sharing a variety of close quarters together, and this excised footage takes you through the film’s story.

Both comedians were at the height of their powers in the late 80s, and their chops are on full display here. It’s easy to see why much of this footage was cut, but it’s still a joy to take in, especially after its existence has been speculated about for many years. It’s not clear how much of it was scripted and how much as ad-libbed, but much of it was clearly cut early in the editing process, since a lot of it doesn’t have Foley sound effects.

Paramount put the newly found footage on a Blu-ray disc that accompanies the new 4K Ultra HD platter. (A code for a digital copy is included too, of course.) The studio also dug up Dylan Baker’s audition footage for the role of Owen; it’s easy to see why he got the part.

However, the Blu-ray doesn’t include the film, nor any other bonus features, so you may want to hold onto your previous Blu-ray edition, if you have one. The 4K Ultra HD disc contains all of the previously released bonus features except the lone deleted scene that was moved to the secondary platter.

You can read my previous review to learn more about the extras on the disc, but I’ll just say that it’s a nice collection of material, in particular the tributes to Hughes and Candy, who both passed away too soon. There’s also a short 16-minute making-of featurette and a quick look at Hughes’ films that weren’t aimed at teens, like this one.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles has had a problematic history on high-def video. It’s been issued on Blu-ray multiple times, but there have always been some problems with the picture quality. I’m not sure if it was remastered for this 4K edition, but it looks excellent on my setup. This isn’t a movie that calls out for a perfect transfer, but I think it has likely reached the pinnacle of quality on home video.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Brad Cook


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