What Is Happening With the ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ Remake?

The Big Picture

  • Hollywood may be open to original content, but sequels and remakes will continue to dominate the industry for years to come.
  • A Planes, Trains and Automobiles remake was announced in 2020, but there has been little news about the project since then.
  • The original film was a comedic masterpiece with both funny moments and poignant depth, making a successful remake a challenge.

While original films like Barbie and Oppenheimer have been hitting box-office heights while well-known franchise sequels hitting lows (sorry, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny), it’s possible that Hollywood is, at last, flinging the studio doors open to original content. As if. Truth is, sequels and remakes will continue to haunt theaters for years to come. One such remake, first announced in 2020, would see director John Hughes‘ Thanksgiving Day classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles updated for the audiences of today. Since then, there has been next to nothing on the project, other than generic references here and there that it is still being worked on. Just what is happening with the Planes, Trains & Automobiles remake?


Planes, Trains & Automobiles

A Chicago advertising man must struggle to travel home from New York for Thanksgiving, with a lovable oaf of a shower-curtain-ring salesman as his only companion.

Release Date
November 26, 1987

John Hughes

Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins, Michael McKean, Kevin Bacon, Dylan Baker



Main Genre

John Hughes

What he really wanted was to spend Thanksgiving with his family. What he got was three days with the turkey.

What Happens in ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’?

What a remake of Planes, Trains and Automobiles has in its favor is a premise as straightforward as you can get, with Steve Martin as Neal Page, an advertising executive who is desperately trying to get home to Chicago from New York. He arrives at the airport only to find out his flight is delayed, and he will have to trade in his 1st Class ticket for Coach. Neal is seated next to Del Griffith (John Candy), a jovial purveyor of shower curtain rings who happens to be the one who “stole” Neal’s cab to the airport earlier. Heavy snow in Chicago forces the plane to land in Wichita, and after the flight is canceled outright, Del offers Neal a bed in the motel room he has booked for himself. With no other options, Neal reluctantly accepts the offer, but it isn’t long before Neal tears into Del over his habits, hygiene, and incessant talking.

Del keeps the high ground, and although hurt by Neal’s angry tirade, he admits he isn’t the easiest to get along with, but is a genuinely nice guy. With the air calm again, they go to bed for the night, but as they slumber a thief breaks in and takes their money. From there, the trip home hits obstacle after obstacle, with Neal and Del hitching rides, taking trains, taking a bus, renting a car (a “hot ride”), and taking seats in the back of a semi for the last leg of the journey. The pair part ways, but as Neal heads home, he realizes that Del (SPOILER) has no home and heads back. Del confirms that he is indeed homeless and a widower, having lost his wife Marie 8 years ago. Neal invites Del to his home, and to his family, for Thanksgiving dinner.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles marked a distinct change in Hughes’ films, a particularly well-received one at that (famed movie critic Roger Ebert gave it four stars, citing it as near perfection). Hughes himself even joked about the film in The LA Times, saying of the reviews, “At least half of the reviews for Planes, Trains and Automobiles start out with, ‘Well… he grew up! {And} about 10% of the reviews say, ‘He’s finally found something more important than proms.'” Both Martin and Candy are at the top of their game, while the supporting cast is no less memorable, especially Edie McClurg as the car rental agent with the perfect response to Neal’s f-bomb tirade.

Who Has Been Cast in the ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles’ Remake?

Image via Netflix

What hasn’t changed – so far – about the Planes, Trains and Automobiles remake are the names attached to the project: Kevin Hart and Will Smith. In the initial 2020 announcement the film, designed as a star vehicle for co-producers Hart and Smith, it was noted that Aeysha Carr would be writing the script, her feature-film debut. While Hart and Smith continue to be behind the project, back in 2022, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, popular movie duo Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore expressed how they had talked about remaking Planes, Trains and Automobiles (with Barrymore confessing she had also talked about a remake with Cameron Diaz). Their idea would have seen Barrymore in Candy’s role and Sandler as Neal, which would certainly have been interesting. For their part, neither Hart nor Smith have stated which part they would play, but it would stand to reason that Hart would likely take on Del, with Smith as Neal, a pairing that is intriguing as well.

A ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ Remake Is a Bad Idea

But “interesting” and “intriguing” doesn’t make a remake of Planes, Trains and Automobiles a slam-dunk. Reaction to the news of a remake was decidedly mixed, at best, with one fan summing it up perfectly: “Just a reminder that Planes, Trains and Automobiles might be the best film John Hughes made, and you should remake terrible films that could have worked, not great ones that nailed it.” If the original film was a flat-out comedy, that would be easy to remake, simply substituting the Odd Couple main characters for others to do the same comedic bits. Only the 1987 original was more, much more. Hughes’ script had incredibly funny moments, but some real poignancy that digs deeper into the characters. For example, one of the highlights of the film is when Neal and Del are on the bus. Del is organizing a sing-along, and when Neal suggests he has a song Del quiets the passengers. Neal starts singing “Three Coins in a Fountain,” and it lands with a thud before Del launches into The Flintstones. The moment speaks volumes in under a minute. Neal is so wrapped up in his own world, in himself, that he literally has no idea that the song is literally unknown to anyone else.

It isn’t until the end of the film that Neal learns to open up and look beyond himself, finally seeing that Del is more than what he’s seen on the surface, struggling with things that Del takes for granted (finding out his wife died 8-years ago is almost a The Sixth Sense-level twist). Martin and Candy, additionally, were the perfect actors for their roles, with each playing to their innate strengths. Martin is just as much at ease playing the straight man as he is the jester, while Candy made his bread and butter with characters that are rough on the outside but with a heart of gold. Planes, Trains & Automobiles is lightning in a bottle, a film with elements that play with, and against, one another to perfection. A development process now three years and counting only goes to prove how difficult it will be for anyone to replicate that magic.

Plains, Trains and Automobiles is available to stream on Hulu in the U.S.

Watch on Hulu

#Happening #Planes #Trains #Automobiles #Remake

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