Everything I need to know, I learned from 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles'
I love Planes, Trains and Automobiles, because who doesn’t? Nothing is more important or special than Steve Martin and John Candy, traveling around, super annoyed at each other. (Well, one of them is super annoyed at the other.)
There are not a ton of Thanksgiving movies, but this one always reminds me of the holiday. Since we are officially into November now, EINTKILF is going all seasonal. Get ready for eight weeks of holiday films! BE EXCITED, BECAUSE I KNOW I AM.
EINTKILF Planes, Trains and Automobiles
1. Traveling is hard.
I feel like this should easily be the first lesson. First of all, Neal (Steve Martin) struggles with getting a cab because some jerk steals it and then charges him a whole lot of money to get it back. Next, his first class ticket is not legit so he has to sit in coach. (I know, cry me a river, right?) And then, of course he ends up sitting next to Del (John Candy, love of my life), a man he met earlier in the airport who happens to be very annoying. Neal tries to ask politely for Del to leave him alone as he reads his friend’s article but alas, Del is just the worst next door plane neighbor ever.
Traveling, even when everything runs smoothly, is really, really rough y’all.
2. Sleeping with someone is annoying.
Neal and Del are forced to sleep in the same bed because he spilled beer all over the other bed, but naturally Del is a very irritating sleeper. He watches TV too loud, he snores like he’s about to choke, and he’s just generally too loud. This all being said, even if you super love someone, sleeping next to someone can be overwhelming. Pretty sure if I ever get married, I’m going to need like an extra king size bed.
3. Don’t be a jerk.
When Neal finally snaps (the first time), he makes Del feel really awful. He goes on and on about how annoying he is, how gross he is, and how he doesn’t want to spend any time with him. Del is great in this moment however and lets Neal know that he doesn’t care what he thinks because his wife loves him, his customers love him, and he’s a good guy. This makes even Neal feel bad because HELLO?? he was a little harsh.
4. Don’t use travelers’ checks.
Does anybody even use travelers’ checks anymore? Look, I know this movie was made THE YEAR I WAS BORN (1987) but I’m just extending that advice out to the world. Some jerk breaks into their hotel room and steals all of Neal’s money and they have to rely on using “their plastic.”
I love how they refer to “their plastic” by saying stuff like, “I have a Visa and a gas card.” So old-fashioned and adorable.
5. Traveling by bus can be the worst.
If you guys are anything like me, you have ridden the Greyhound a lot. Look, you can get lucky with bus travel. Buses can be awesome if you get to sit alone. There is great reading time, sleeping is totally fine if no one is next to you, and buses these days usually have free wifi! That all being said, it can be really terrible. Buses take longer than planes (I mean, duh) so if you are seated next to someone annoying, you’ll be sitting like that for a long time. When the train breaks down and Del and Neal end up on the bus together, they are directly across from some people hardcore making out. Now that is the worst.
6. Try not to mouth off to customer service.
Look, we have all been there. We have all been super pissed off because of a bad experience—or multiple bad experiences in Neal’s case—but there is no need to lash out at the customer service agent. Though it is one of the funniest scenes in the movie, never, ever do what Neal did. I’ve been on the receiving end of it and it sucks.
7. Friends will always be there for each other.
…even the friends you never wanted.
After Neal freaks out on the car rental agent and then has a bad experience involving his, well, genitals—Del is right there to help him out. Del, funnily enough, had gotten a rental car just fine and escaped all of the issues Neal had experienced. (Probably because his karma is better?) Del picks up Neal and off they go, continuing their travel adventures.
8. John Candy is the best.
Can we just have that moment really quickly? Can we just spend a bit of time remembering that John Candy was the first celebrity death I remember in my lifetime and I cried on my mother’s shoulder like I lost an old friend? Watching any movie with John Candy in it makes me feel warm and comfortable and it always makes me laugh and, honestly, cry too. I love you, John Candy. I always will.
9. Everyone is everyone.
Similar to the lesson below, it is unfair to ever judge another person because we are all really just each other. Neal and Del are very much the “angel/devil” dynamic that we have all grown up learning about. Watching this movie right now, right this second, I think that Neal is a huge jerk and Del is clearly the better person…but I know in real life, I am Neal and the Dels of the world annoy the life out of me.
What I am saying is that everyone has a Neal and a Del in them. Try not to be rude, or judge anyone for who they are. Don’t hate positive people and don’t hate negative people. Let everyone be themselves and give grace whenever necessary. (Hey, someone remind me of that like, daily, please.)
10. Never make assumptions.
The clear lesson across the entire movie is TRY TO PLAN AHEAD BEFORE YOUR HOLIDAY TRAVELS. Just kidding, though that really is an important lesson. The real lesson is never make assumptions about other people. In the end, Neal is really wrong about Del. Yeah, he’s annoying, but he’s an incredible dude who always ends up being there for his new friend Neal.
Ultimately, Neal learns a lot more about Del than he ever thought there was to know, including the fact that his wife has passed away and he is clearly just looking for friendship anywhere he can find it. And during the holidays, being alone is the saddest thing. Even though Neal is a total jerk (and I know Steve Martin isn’t like this in real life), I’m always happy that he redeems himself in the end.
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