There seems to be an endless supply of Halloween and Christmas movies, but what about Thanksgiving? That’s where Planes, Trains & Automobiles can enter the picture. Thanks to the wonderful chemistry between its stars Steve Martin and John Candy, with a flawless blend of heart and humor, John Hughes’ 1987 comedy is a quintessential Turkey Day delight for the whole family…
The Beloved Steve Martin-John Candy Holiday Comedy Gets An Adults-Only MPAA Rating Thanks To One Profanity-Laced Scene
So, why the hard R rating? Should that deter families with youngsters who might be eager to tune in next month? It was announced that Will Smith and Kevin Hart would star in a remake, but let’s look at why the original source material deserved an adults-only MPAA rating.
Some argue Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the best Thanksgiving movie to date, as it perfectly satirizes the classic American experience of enduring the most traveled day of the year just to get to a few days of R&R with the family. Here are Steve Martin, John Candy and John Hughes all at the top of their game. The story follows an unlikely pair on the road together as they destroy vehicles and property, get robbed, and reluctantly shares accommodations as Neal (Martin) struggles to simply get home in time for that fourth Thursday in November.
And on the topic of “shared accommodations” – there is a comedic beat in the second act where Neal and Del (Candy) wake up spooning in the same bed. It’s a priceless moment where, in their morning daze, they each think they’re in bed with their respective wives. The punchline is quite the sexual innuendo, but it’s hardly enough to garner a hard R rating.
Let’s look at another scene, in that case. Neal’s freakout at a rental car desk, which comes later in the film, contains a blizzard of profanities. One four-lettered expletive is used at least 18 times, to be specific. On the receiving end of Martin’s tirade is none other than Edie McClurg – who John Hughes fans might remember as “Grace!” from another classic of his, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Here’s a snippet from the scene’s transcript:
Car Rental Agent: How may I help you?
Neal: You can start by wiping that f***ing dumbass smile off your rosy f***ing cheeks. Then you can get me a f***ing automobile…
McClurg, effectively adding a colorful personality to her minor character, eventually replies to Martin with an F-bomb of her own. Serves him right – though Neal is very much at the end of his rope here. Dare we cut him some slack for the lash-out?
Despite this one-minute profanity bomb, Planes, Trains and Automobiles has become a perennial favorite for all ages. This is a rare ’80s movie that probably wouldn’t be rated R today because the studio might insist on changing the one-and-only reason it got marked for adults only. But the late, great Hughes reportedly refused to take the scene out. Other than this rental car rampage, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is perhaps more responsible than most PG films out there.