Let us take a look at the best Thanksgiving movie ever made…
I’ve been meaning to write this article for many years but featured it as an edited version in 10 of the Best John Hughes Films instead, but now it is finally the time to tell you why this movie is just not only the best road movie and the best holiday movie but also one of the best comedy movies ever made. F__k it, I’d say it’s my all-time favorite movie too!
What’s it about?
Although the late John Hughes had made National Lampoon’s Vacation he was famous in the 1980s for being ‘that guy who writes teen movies’ and to stop being pigeon-holed wrote this absolute gem of a road movie aimed at adults and kids. The movie was written, produced, and directed by John Hughes. Released in 1987 the movie stars Steve Martin as Neal Page, a high-strung marketing executive, who meets Del Griffith, played by the late John Candy, an eternally optimistic, outgoing, overly talkative, and clumsy shower curtain ring salesman who seems to live in a world governed by a different set of rules. They share a three-day odyssey of misadventures trying to get Neal home to Chicago from New York City in time for Thanksgiving dinner with his family.
The film has everything you need in a family fun film – perfect cast (including the cameos) and characters, humor, warmth, the locations, action, and a lot of heart. I think I can relate to this film because I’ve endured quite a few traveling woes in my time with having my family scattered around the country. Also, I think there is a bit of Neal Page in me too!
Who’s in it?
Comedy duo gold with Steve Martin and John Candy (a regular collaborator with John Hughes), Laila Robbins, Michael McKeen, Dylon Baker, and a number of regular John Hughes selection of actors. Watch out for Kevin Bacon in a cameo in the taxi scene where we first meet Del.
The whole concept for the film was inspired by John Hughes’s own trip from Hell from New York to Chicago when he was originally a copywriter (there is still hope for us all!) for Leo Burnett advertising agency. Like Neal in the movie, he planned to attend a presentation on Friday morning and catch a flight back home at 5 pm but due to bad winds, his flights were canceled and he had to stay in a shit hotel, and then the next day snow meant his flights were diverted to Denver and Phoenix and he didn’t get back until Monday. Once home he wrote 60 pages of the script in just six hours.
Things you may not know
Steve Martin’s famous scene where he utters the F-word 18 times in 40 seconds to Edie McClurg’s car rental clerk is what made Martin want to make the movie in the first place but is also what gave the movie an R rating.
You can start by wiping that f__king dumb-ass smile off your rosy f__king cheeks.
Then give me a f__king automobile. A f__king Datsun, a f__king Toyota, a f__king Buick. Four f__king wheels and a seat.
I don’t care for the way you’re speaking.
I don’t care for the way your company left me in f__king nowhere with keys to a f__king car that isn’t f__king there. I didn’t care to f__king walk down a f__king highway and across a f__king runway to get back here to have you smile at my f__king face. I want a f__king car right f__king now.
May I see your rental agreement?
I threw it away.
Oh, boy, what?
The original cut of the film was 4 and half hours long so some serious cuts took place including a scene with a strip club that was supposed to take place after their car set on fire.
Speaking of cuts, Elton John wrote a song for the movie but with Paramount wanting to own the whole rights John pulled out and the song has never been released to this day.
Why is it so good?
Neal and Del go on a testing journey… An odyssey. An odyssey involving the many mishaps of traveling in the holiday period before the times of cellphones and the internet. They encounter diverted planes that land in places further away than their supposed final destination. They stay in cheap motels and have to share a room together and get robbed while they sleep.
But they go on, they don’t give up. They experience trains that break down and have to catch a bus.
Still pressing on they rent cars that aren’t there and others they cause to set on fire. They get pulled over by the police, they travel in the back of chilled truck trailers because they mustn’t give up. They just want to get home. Neal has had punches to the face been picked up by his balls and they’ve both had plenty of near-death experiences on this road trip to hell.
Neal just wants to get home and see his family again and spend those precious moments with the ones he loves. He knows he’s away too much so this is a chance of making it up to them.
He meets a man he can’t stand but ultimately warms too and becomes a good friend. A friend he realizes is somebody less fortunate than him. A friend who has lost his wife and isn’t so lucky to have someone to go home to for the holidays. The whole movie finally led us to this beautiful moment where Neal brings Del back to his home and introduced him to his family after all the shit they have been through together over the last few days.
Just that last moment of the film brings a lump to my throat. This is why I love this movie and why it is the best Thanksgiving movie ever made and one of my all-time favorites.