Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Two Paths Collide

In our latest viewing, our class took a break from fast-paced Sci-Fi flicks, deep film noir, and Alfred Hitchcock thrillers for John Hughes' comedy, "Planes, Trains, & Automobiles." Although very predictable, I really enjoyed the film. I found it extremely humorous, eye-opening, and touching. While viewing this film, the important message that resonated with me was people come into our lives for a reason to teach us important lessons that help us grow.

In this movie, Neal Page played by Steve Martin was an overworked business man who was trying to get to Chicago in time to spend Thanksgiving with his family. But fate proved to be very unkind as Neal encountered set-back after set-back in his quest to get home. Neal got his first taste of  bad luck when his taxi to the airport was taken by a mysterious man. Later at the airport, Neal met the mystery man again who incessantly apologized and introduced himself as Del Griffith played by John Candy, a happy-go-lucky shower rings salesman. Initially, Neal was put off by Del's loquaciousness and obnoxious behavior. Much to Neal's dismay,  he had to endure the long flight with Del, which was diverted to Wichita as a result of a blizzard in Chicago. 

With no contacts or direction, Neal had no choice but to rent a car with Del and stay with him  in a run-down motel. Tensions came to a head in the motel with Neal exploding on Del for his continued annoying behavior, with Del firing back. In an emotional moment, Del proclaimed that he liked himself for who he was, and that Neal couldn't change him with his words or cynicism. As the movie progressed, bad luck continued to crush Del and Neal's plans, forcing them to rely on each other and build a strong bond, despite their frustration. I noticed that by spending time with Del,  his character began to transform. Neal became less uptight and more care-free, learning how to effectively cope with  setbacks. A scene that stuck out to me was when Neal got on the train in Wichita and made brief small-talk with the girl sitting next to him. Although subtle, this scene showed change in Neal's character because at the beginning of the movie he was thoroughly annoyed by Del's chatter on the airplane. In this scene, he was behaving just like Del. 

The ending of  "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" was extremely powerful to me because both Del and Neal realized how much they had grown to care for each other. While Neal was on the train home, a montage was used to highlight Del and Neal's journey, and how much they had been through together.When Neal found Del at the train station all alone, I was shocked to find out that Del was homeless and his wife had been dead for eight years. I was very moved when Neal invited Del to share Thanksgiving dinner with his family. 

I really love this movie because it embodies the true essence of Thanksgiving and emphasizes showing love, compassion, and empathy to others. Although everything wasn't roses between Del and and Neal, the struggles that they shared together brought them closer and formed an unbreakable bond. Del came out with a true friend. Neal came out not only with a good friend, but a softer heart. We can all learn from this film. Every person that we cross paths with, good or bad, implants something in our hearts that we take with us throughout our lives. 

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