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5 Films About Thanksgiving: Day 4 – Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Today is Thanksgiving, so what better film to watch than a beloved classic. You may be surprised to read that I’d never seen this film before. It’s one of those films that slipped me by, and I never got around to seeing it, even though the director and cast are in my list of favorite filmmakers! How can I call myself a fan of films when I’ve never set eyes on this work of art, you may ask?

I am happy to say that I now can say with conviction that I’ve not only seen this film, but will put it in my que of must see films every Thanksgiving from today forward. I was only saddened when I thought of the passing of the director not too long ago. A true talent, and one whom I’m sure will be missed by many.

A Week of Thanks

5 Films About Thanksgiving

Day 4

Film #4

~ Planes, Trains and Automobiles ~


Director: John Hughes
Year: 1987
Cast: Steve Martin, John Candy, Kevin Bacon, Michael McKean, Laila Robins
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 93 mins. / Color / OAR 1.85:1 / MPAA Rating: R

Neal Page (Martin), an overworked stressed out businessman, is traveling from New York to Chicago for Thanksgiving to be with his family. When he misses the plane, he meets Del Griffith (Candy), a jovial traveling salesman who happens to also be traveling to Chicago. They agree to team up to get back home by way of any means possible. Unfortunately, the entire trip turns into one big error-prone adventure, testing the patience of Neal, and giving new meaning to the term “friendship”.

Hughes, Martin and Candy deliver a laugh a minute in this hilarious slapstick comedy of misfortunes. It truly is sad that both Hughes and Candy were taken from this realm at such early ages, leaving a void in their place.

Martin shines as the straight man, and the duo bring back memories of other great comedic talents such as Laurel and Hardy, and Abbott and Costello. The timing of the dialogue is impeccable, with the expressions of both Candy and Martin to match. Rarely does such controlled humor play well, and as deadpan as these craftsman were able to pull off. The one liners, many of which I have been familiar with even without having seen the film, are truly classic, and deserving of their “fame”.

It’s no wonder the recent film “Due Date” attempted to copy the formula seen here. Sadly, that film is a testament to the talent found here. A great way to spend Thanksgiving, apart from the obvious….Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

My Rating: ***** / A-

Available on Amazon: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

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Posted by on November 25, 2010 in Movies

 

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5 Films About Thanksgiving: Day 2 – Home for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is supposed to be about more than football and Turducken, right? There is more to this holiday than the perennial Macy’s Parade and John Madden. There is, of course, quirky comedy films about the family all getting together for the mishap that often is the family meal. It’s in this spirit that today’s film gets a viewing…

A Week of Thanks

5 Films about Thanksgiving

Day 2

Film #2

~ Home for the Holidays ~


Director: Jody Foster
Year: 1995
Cast: Anne Bancroft, Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr., Claire Danes, Charles Dunning, Cynthia Stevenson, Geraldine Chaplin
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 103 mins. / Color / OAR 1.85:1 / MPAA Rating: PG-13

Claudia Larson (Hunter), upon being fired from her job, decides to return to her parents home for a family gathering during Thanksgiving. Upon arriving, she soon realizes what a misfit dysfunctional family she has, and attempts to find sanity in the midst of the madness.

I guess it’s true what they say, comedy is subjective. In the case of “Home for the Holidays”, I must have left my sense of humor at the checkout at the local video store.

For some, incestuous brothers, pot smoking as cool and normal, and an entire family of uninteresting caricatures may be knee slapping hilarious. For me, however, its the recipe for a bleak and dull film that feels more bland than Aunt Petunia’s giblet gravy.

The film is rescued from the pits of the doldrums by the always excellent acting from Downey, Jr., (one of the most underrated actors of the current era, in my humble opinion), and Chaplin as the crazy Aunt. (Interesting note: Downey had played Geraldine’s real life father, Charlie, in the 1995 Richard Attenborough film, “Chaplin”).

Sadly, even their performances help little with interest in their characters. I stated before that it’s hard to get behind the film if the characters are uninteresting, and that is the case here in droves. I believe I’m not alone, as the film was a box office bomb, and the last for director Foster in the helmers chair.

Hopefully, there are more interesting films to be “thankful for” coming. For now, on this Thanksgiving post, I give to you….a turkey…

My Rating: ** / D

Available from Amazon: Home for the Holidays

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Amazon Video on Demand: Home for the Holidays

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Posted by on November 23, 2010 in Movies

 

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5 Films About Thanksgiving: Day 1 – The Ice Storm

Turkey, candied yams, family, and football all usher in the beginning of my favorite time of the year. Thanksgiving, that jovial holiday for giving thanks for the blessings we’ve gotten over the prior year, is usually overlooked by Hollywood in favor of the much more commercial holiday that follows only a month away. However, there are a handful of films that take place on this festive day, and I’ve decided to give a few of them a look and present the results here in this blog I’ve titled…

A Week of Thanks

5 Films about Thanksgiving

Day 1

Film #1

~ The Ice Storm ~


Director: Ang Lee
Year: 1997
Cast: Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 112 mins. / Color / OAR 1.37:1 / MPAA Rating: R

Ben (Kline) and Elena (Allen) Hood are in a miserable marriage, and have two children (Ricci and Maguire) who are negatively affected by the marital situation. All are involved in extramarital affairs or drug use of some sort, and find that those they are involved with are equally as troubled as they, to disastrous results.

It’s tough to get behind a film where none of the characters have any redeeming qualities. In such a situation, I find it hard to like any of them, thus find myself numb to any “hardships” they may suffer throughout the film. This, sadly, is the situation with “The Ice Storm”.

The film is shot well, features a beautifully somber musical score, and is stocked with an excellent cast that any director would welcome. Unfortunately, the story just wasn’t engrossing enough for even this caliber of talent to rescue. The film, for starters, could have been set during any time of the year. There is nothing in the film that makes it a Thanksgiving film, other than the mentions a few times here and there. Furthermore, the ending that was supposed to be a heart wrenching finale, was seen from a mile away (actually about the halfway point of the movie, to be precise). Lastly, other than that unfortunate incident, there is nothing else as far as consequences left in the film, with one nagging question regarding Maguires character left unresolved.

The most interesting thing about the film was the constant reference to “The Fantastic Four” with Maguires character (who himself was Marvel’s other comic book star, “Spider-man”.) Of course, director Ang Lee would later direct that other Marvel film “Hulk” a few years later.

Not a horrible film, but not a memorable one either. I can understand why this was a bomb at the box office upon its initial release. Nobody wants to commit suicide during Thanksgiving week, or see a movie that is akin to that.

Aye, I need a drink. Wait a minute, then I’d be like every character in the film. On second thought…

My Rating: *** / C-

Available from Amazon: The Ice Storm – (The Criterion Collection)

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Amazon Video On Demand: The Ice Storm

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Posted by on November 23, 2010 in Movies

 

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