Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Home is where the road is

Following John Hughes' death, I decided to watch "Planes, trains and automobiles" (1987) for the first time. Though the movie's strong 80's vibe holds it from being a timeless piece, I did enjoy it. I especially enjoyed:

- Steve Martin and John Candy

- The opening scene, in which Page (Steve Martin) sits in an office meeting, anxious to leave so he can catch his plane, while his boss takes his time to conclude the meeting. This scene has almost no dialogue, mainly face gestures, and it's remarkably funny.

- The bromance atmosphere, which is so dominant in comedies nowadays. When Page and Dell find themselves sharing a hotel room (and a bed) for the night, they keep making sure there's nothing gay about it. The climax is the moment when they wake up in each other's arms, and jump out of bed, terrified (watch video below). Of course today it's ok for guys to say "I love you" in comedies ("Wedding crashers", "Superbad", "I love you, man").

- The moment when Page understands that Del (John Candy) has nowhere to go to for Thanksgiving. After he hated him throughout the entire movie, you really get the feeling that now he loves him. And in terms of transformations, it's nice that the film offers a minor change, not drastic. Page is not a whole new person when the movie ends, but he did learn to enjoy the presence of someone different, and to accept that things don’t always go as planned.

A day after watching "Planes", "Something Wild" (Jonathan Demme, 1986) was on TV, and I sat down and watched it. I remembered watching it as a young girl, and had a vague recollection of what it was about. I remembered the sex scene at the beginning (the bob haircut and the handcuffs are too iconic to forget). I also remembered the scene where Lulu (Melanie Griffith) leaves the restaurant without paying, forcing Charlie (Jeff Daniels), who has no money either, to run out without paying. However, I did not remember the radical shift in the middle of the movie, when it stops being a comedy and becomes a dark drama, thriller almost.

What's interesting, though, is the similarity between the movies. Both "Planes" and "Something Wild" are road movies, in which one of the main characters has no home to return to (either physically or emotionally). In both movies, the character keeps her "no home" situation a secret, and the secret is revealed towards the end of the film.

Del (John Candy) doesn't tell Page (Steve Martin) that his beloved wife had been dead for 8 years. Page finds it out by himself only at the end of the movie, by adding up all the small clues that were dropped along the way.

Charlie (Jeff Daniels) doesn't tell Lulu (Melanie Griffith) that his wife left him a few months earlier. Lulu's husband, who just got out of jail and tries to get Lulu back to him, tells her the truth about Charlie.

So I guess that in both movies, the primary idea is you can only truly dedicate yourself to a road trip if you have nothing (no one) to lose. In "Planes, trains and automobiles", Del craves Page's company because he's lonely, and his loneliness explains why, unlike Page, he only wants the trip back home to be longer. In "Something Wild", we first think Charlie joins Lulu to escape his boring family life, but it turns he's lost his wife and kids to another man. Hence, he joins Lulu because he has no family.

No comments: