Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

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Released 8-Nov-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 88:40
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:17) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Hughes

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Steve Martin
John Candy
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Ira Newborn

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Now this is one I have been waiting for! Plains, Trains & Automobiles is one of those comedies which just make you glad about the whole movie making business in general. One of the finest performance from the enormously talented and tragically late John Candy (and up there with Uncle Buck), aided with aplomb by Steve Martin, this movie just puts a smile on your face from start to finish.

    Steve Martin is Neal Page, a man who is simply trying to get home for Thanksgiving, In order to do so, he must catch a plane. On his way to the airport, his taxi is stolen by Del Griffith (John Candy). When he gets to the airport, his plane is delayed, and then cancelled. Through a never-ending torrent of misfortune and bad luck, Neal and Del struggle to get home by hook or by crook, and in the process get to ride in cars, trucks, buses, planes, trains … and just about anything which moves.

    Written by John Hughes (who also wrote Uncle Buck, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and European Vacation to name a few classics), this is as perfect a comedy as you could hope to find. It never falls flat or struggles – it just seems to unfold naturally, and is just plain funny.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    I was delighted with the quality of this transfer, which is generally sharp and often presents wonderful detail. There is a fair amount of grain throughout, preserving the quality of the film stock used, and indeed the image has a nicely film-like look and feel to it. Compression did produce some low-level noise in the image, however it was very mild and, like the film grain, only noticeable in dark scenes. Shadow detail was only average, even though the image has a great deal of contrast to it.

    Colours were very nicely presented, with natural skin tones. There were many instances of strong colours, and they were pure and without noise, even quite striking at times.

    MPEG artefacting was noticed here and there, however it was only mild and will only be seen on larger displays, though it did produce some background noise. There was the odd blemish, but by and large the image was very clean. I noticed no edge enhancement, and there was absolutely no aliasing at all.

    The English subtitle stream was accurate, if at times concise.

    Amazingly for such a short movie with no extras, the disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 59:17 minutes. It was easy to pick, though not badly placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are four soundtrack options, with only English being in Dolby Digital 5.1, and at the higher bitrate of 448Kb/s no less. French, Italian and Spanish make do with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround mixes.

    Dialogue was always clear, well-recorded and well-integrated into the environment. In fact, I did not notice any re-recording which is something I am usually sensitive to. There were no audio sync problems.

    The soundtrack to this movie is brilliant, and is a major character in itself. Written by John Hughes’ partner in crime, Ira Newborn, the beat-driven high energy music is fun and always perfectly fits the on-screen action. There is great fidelity to the mix, which is presented with a wonderfully spacious and enveloping soundfield.

    The surrounds are used for ambience, and also to bring the soundtrack into the room and were almost always active, bringing an engaging atmosphere to the soundtrack.

    There were plenty of times where the subwoofer was called upon to augment the soundtrack and effects, and it was seamless and controlled, giving the mix a nice bottom end without calling attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Not a one. Nothing.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Both versions appear identical content-wise, though interestingly the R1 misses out on


    A seriously funny movie presented with superb video and audio transfers, though the lack of any extras whatsoever is disappointing.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Paul Cordingley (bio)
Friday, November 23, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2108, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DB-930
SpeakersFront & Rears: B&W DM603 S2, Centre: B&W LCR6, Sub: B&W ASW500

Other Reviews NONE
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Planes, Trains & Automobiles - Framing Issue - GM