Planes, Trains and Automobiles

 
(i)

 

A mismatched duo's homeward bound escapades.
  • Review Date: July 19, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1987
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence

None (aside from car crashes).

Sex

Scantily-clad girl pinups inside taxicab, couple heavily making out and jokes about body parts.

Language

Lots of strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the consistent use of profanity in this movie may override its many humorous scenes, and as such, may not be appropriate for preteens and younger kids. In one scene that adults may find funny, an irate Steve Martin employs "f--k" repeatedly while arguing with a rental car agent; in another, Candy jokes about picking up pick-up sticks with his "butt cheeks." At the same time, the film does impart a few moral lessons, such as the value of family and not judging a character by his first impression. Teens should be fine watching this film, but they should probably do so with an adult.

What's the story?

Neal Page and Nell Griffith couldn't be more unlikely traveling partners, let alone friends. Neal, a wearied executive from the Chicago suburbs who has sat in on one too many business meetings, is desperate to come home to his wife and children for Thanksgiving dinner after his plane is indefinitely laid over in Wichita, Kansas. Played by Steve Martin, Neal repeatedly meets up with goofy shower-ring salesman John Candy in a series of coincidental encounters, beginning with Nell's unwittingly stealing Neal's New York City cab. Throughout their journey, they spar with Midwestern hicks, motel clerks, a rental car agent, and law enforcement figures, traveling not only by plane, train, and automobile, but by bus and even foot as well.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

There are some truly hilarious scenes in PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES, but they aren't very appropriate for children -- at least younger ones. In one scene, the two men are forced to share a bed in a sleazy motel and Nell unconsciously cuddles with Neal in his sleep. When they wake up, horrified, Neal asks Nell where one of his hands is. He replies, "Between two pillows." Neal exclaims, "Those aren't pillows!"

Neal's love-hate relationship with Nell does not always serve as an appropriate role model, as he repeatedly tells off Nell and berates his oddball behavior. Yet, even Neal realizes his bad behavior and regrets it on several occasions, and by the end of the film, the two realize that together they've accomplished more than they could separately. Overall, teens would get a chuckle from the film's many escapades, and their parents would probably enjoy viewing it with them -- with the understanding that the humor is far from clean.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether a movie can still be funny without the use of foul language. You may also ask them if one can always a judge a person by his appearance or first impression, and if there are instances where it takes time to get to know a person better. Teens may also weigh in on a discussion about the value of family life: how does it affect a family when a parent works long hours and travels extensively for business?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 20, 1987
DVD release date:January 8, 2002
Cast:John Candy, Kevin Bacon, Steve Martin
Director:John Hughes
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Comedy
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language

This review of Planes, Trains and Automobiles was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 17 years old Written byoctober1985 July 18, 2009
 
Probably one of the tamest R-rated movies ever. THe only reason it's R is because of one scene at a car rental place where Steve Martin just swears at a woman and uses the f-word frequently. It's used about 15 times in one minute. There's one scene that might be scary for little kids(when they are in the car crash), but other than that, the rest of the film is PG material.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old March 13, 2010
 

IT'S FINE!

I loved this movie. Even though there are some words which aren't age appropriate....Kids should be able to understand not to say those words. But otherwise, this movie is perfect for a good laugh.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Teen, 17 years old Written bycopperzinc April 6, 2009
 
What other families should know
Too much swearing

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass