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Planes, Trains and Automobiles Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: R
  • Run Time: 92 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Studio: Paramount Home Media Distribution
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 6, 2012
  • List Price: $22.98

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

One of the few ’80s films from legendary filmmaker John Hughes aimed at an adult market, Planes, Trains and Automobiles stars two comedic legends, Steve Martin and John Candy, in a classic “odd couple” pairing for a road trip adventure filled with mishaps. Stripped bare of some its unnecessary profanity-filled rants, one scene involving a particularly frustrating rental car agent, the film would be just like any number of Hughes’ era-defining teen films. Clear archetypes, warm humor, and plenty of slapstick gags that could be lifted right out of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off make up the bulk of the wild ride that define this humorous outing. Steve Martin plays the straight-man Neal Page, an ad executive whose efforts to make it home to his family for Thanksgiving Day are thwarted at every turn by John Candy’s Del Griffith, a shower curtain ring salesman whose garrulous personality doesn’t sit well with Page’s more taciturn demeanor. However, the forced travel companions end up imposed upon one another in and endless series of bad situations, mostly the doing of bad ideas on the part of Del, that take them, literally, on the titular planes, trains, and automobiles on their way back to Chicago from New York City.

Subtract a few F-Bombs here and there, and this would make a fantastic family film for the holidays. One wonders why Hughes thought it so necessary to pepper the film with the unnecessary language other than the obvious reason to distance himself from the tag of being a teen-oriented filmmaker. But wouldn’t it have been enough to have the fantastic John Candy and Steve Martin heading up your cast?

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The film looks amazingly clean and sharp in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from Paramount, in fact, it look too clean and sharp for a film from 1987 shot on 35mm. Closer inspection reveals an unnatural appearance to grain that, when one looks at the backgrounds, just sits still like it’s a paper backdrop or something – this is always a bad sign. This won’t necessarily reveal itself in screen captures, but becomes increasingly noticeable in motion. There are also obvious signs of sharpening to the image going on. You can see it in faces, around Steve Martin’s hat, on the front of Martin’s family house – distance shots in particular look far too “edgy.” Folks with smaller screens may not notice this, but the larger the screen size, the more obvious it becomes. On the plus side, colors are accurate and contrast is quite good.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Planes, Trains and Automobiles gets a new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack that sounds rather reprocessed to my ears, carrying nothing really discrete in the surround channels and having high frequencies that sound a bit edgy and harsh. The breadth of the stereo panning is quite good, however, and dialogue is clean and natural in tone.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

Much of the supplements here are port-overs, but a couple of new featurettes on the career of John Hughes in HD are offered.

The supplements:

  • Getting there is Half the Fun: The Story of Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1.33:1; SD; 00:16:38) – A vintage Q&A with Steve Martin, John Candy, and John Hughes in the airport.
  • John Hughes: Life Moves Pretty Fast:
    • John Hughes: The Voice of a Generation (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:27:39) – This featurette offers an overview of John Hughes’ career with interviews with actors, producers, directors, and other associates of Hughes including Jon Cryer, Matthew Broderick and others.
    • Heartbreak and Triumph: The Legacy of John Hughes (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:25:52) – In a continuation of the previous featurette, friends and colleagues of Hughes discuss how he went about his work and the long-lasting legacy of his films.
  • John Hughes for Adults (1.33:1; SD; 00:04:02) – A vintage Q&A with John Hughes discussing the more adult oriented work of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
  • A Tribute to John Candy (1.33:1; SD; 00:03:01)
  • Deleted Scene – “Airplane “Food” (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:03:24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

I hadn’t seen this film in years and didn’t remember how remarkably funny it is. Even though the transfer to Blu-ray doesn’t impress as much as I wish it did because it just doesn’t look as film-like as a film from 1987 should, I still recommend this, but hope Paramount or someone can someday do it better justice in high definition.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Planes, Trains and Automobiles on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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Purchase Planes, Trains and Automobiles on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]



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