Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – Written and Directed by John Hughes

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As a kid, I was a big fan of John Hughes’ films. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Uncle Buck, and the Home Alone films were all great films that I enjoyed. It was probably two years ago that I watched this film and I immediately loved it. It’s actually my favorite John Hughes film to date.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a comedy about a middle aged advertising executive Neal Page (Steve Martin) who is trying to get home to his family for Thanksgiving. He is in New York, his family is in Chicago. On this disastrous trip, he encounters his worst nightmare, shower certain ring salesman Del Griffith (John Candy).

So, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles follows a three act structure. The protagonist of the film is Neal who is in desperate need to get home. The antagonist of the film is Del. An unusual thing about the structure of this film is that the plot points are at the very beginning and the very end of the film. In the very first scene of the film, we see Neal impatiently trying to get out of work, while his boss can’t make up his mind about what advertisement they should use. The last scene of the film is when Neal finally arrives home. This film is also both a narrative and experience driven film. While the story is a series of events that keep Neal from going to his family, it becomes a very emotional story. It reveals a lot about both Neal and Del, with Del’s story becoming the main focus for the ending.

As a character Neal is very angry, honest, and hysterical through out the film. His behavior and actions show this. When he gets left alone at the car parking lot with no car, he yells, and throws his ticket away in anger. His dialogue only shows us the same thing. He is mean to Del, right to his face. In one scene when they share a room in a motel, he criticizes Del for being terrible at telling jokes. He’s literally deteriorating through out most of this film. Everything that can go wrong for Neal, does. The only thing that keeping him from completely losing it is the thought of being at home with his family for Thanksgiving. His background is created¬† with cut away’s of his family at home, waiting for him. This is important not only to show us how his family looks like, but to emphasize his main goal, and to have the audience be able to sympathize with him. While Neal may seem like a bad person for most of this film, we realize that he’s not. He’s just very desperate to get home.

As for Del, he is quite the opposite character. He seems like a positive, caring person, with only good intentions. Del might be clumsy, but he is trying to do his best to get to Chicago himself. Everything Del says and does reflects this. He sells shower certain rings when he and Neal are desperate for money. He offers Neal a motel room out of the goodness of his heart. The only thing about Del that we can’t immediately see is his main conflict, his inability to deal with his past. By the end of the film, we realize that Del doesn’t have a home, and that he was married but his wife died. For most of the film, Del has Neal believing that he has a wife. Del hid this information, but we are able to see signs of this with his body language, and even with some of the things that he says like “I haven’t been home for years.” He just laughs it off as a sarcastic joke. Unlike Neal, Del also doesn’t have such a strong main goal. Unconsciously, he just wants to travel with Neal. He’s lonely, he just wants some company for the holidays.

A lesson that I learned in this film come from the famous f – word scene. (This is the scene that gave the film an R rating instead of a family friendly PG one). It is the scene when Neal is left in a large parking lot with no car. He manages to walk back from a very long distance, where he then confronts a car rental employee about this problem. This is when he totally loses it and yells about 20 “fucks” in about 30 seconds. What I learned in this scene is that great comedy is not only unexpected, but it must also have a purpose. Up to this part of the film, Neal has been bottling up his anger. He has made little progress on his trip home so it is inevitable, and only natural, that he would finally lose it and behave this way. I totally buy his behavior. The scene itself is funny, but seeing Neal reach his breaking point is why this scene is so memorable.

Well now for the conclusion for the film. I can’t get much better, really. Neal finally gets to Chicago with Del. As he rides the subway home, Neal realizes that Del doesn’t have a wife and that he didn’t say where he was going for Thanksgiving. He remembers some of the things that Del said about “Not being home in years.” So he goes back, and sees Del alone in the subway station. What Neal thought was true. So he invites Del to his home, to have Thanksgiving with his family. While this ending might sound cliched, it isn’t (watch the movie to see why). The reason why I feel that it works so well is that while the film can be a bit ridiculous at times, these characters seem like real people. They are so well written that it works. You can’t help but get caught up in how emotional this ending is. Especially at the very end, when Neal gets home, meets his family, and introduces Del, you can’t help but get choked up (at least I couldn’t). This is why having relatable, detailed characters is so important. Characters are what people relate to in a film, so by having them be so strong, you can turn a slapstick comedy into a beautiful film.


Character Blog 2

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All I know of Jason’s background is that he had a so so childhood. He had parents that loved him but they never had much money. His father is now dead, his mother lives with him and is on welfare. I don’t know too much more than that right now.

Now I am just going to list the five W’s that make up Jason.

Who – Jason is single and lonely, he’s struggling to make a decent living as a driver/enforcer in organized crime, he’s quiet but not shy, he has no real interests other than maybe listening to music, he has no real strong desire to get up every morning.

Where – He lives in a crumby apartment in a mediocre part of the city. He has lived in this part of city for his whole life. He has never gone far outside from his home (he’s never been on a vacation).

What – Jason’s main dilemma is one that he has with himself. While this is not a love story, Jason’s conflict has to do with love. He doesn’t truly love himself. He feels that he needs to achieve a certain status in life (more wealth, a partner, etc.) in order to fill this void. He is lacking that self love, and he is always unconsciously seeking it. A lot of this has to do with his childhood. He was born into a family that barely had enough money to survive. He doesn’t want that problem. His dream as a child was to own his own restaurant, but that looks like its not going to happen.

When – We find Jason in his Mid 20’s, just as he is beginning to settle into a life of crime, and just as he is beginning to lose all the hope in all of his childhood dream.

Why – Jason is now¬† part of organized crime. With everyday that passes by, he is slowly losing his desire to live. He’s not suicidal, but depressed. He is beginning to feel worthless, because there is no need for him to exist. The world won’t be different without him. In this story, Jason will be forced to deal with a moment in his life where he will have to regain his confidence, and challenge himself to accomplish something important (I don’t know what yet, unfortunately). You see, what I want to show with Jason is that only he himself, has the power to fix his problems.

The reason why I want to write a story about a character like this is because I feel that at my age, most people have to make a decision of what you want to do with your life. While Jason is an extreme example, I feel that I relate to him because of this. I want to be a filmmaker. I know that it will not be easy and that I will struggle with some hardships, but I will persevere in order to do what I love. For me, taking that step to becoming a filmmaker was scary, but I have accepted it. Taking that next step is the main inner struggle that both me and Jason face. The only difference between me and Jason however is that he hates himself for not achieving his main goal yet.

Chapter 14

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So now, the last chapter in the book. One that I found to be a bit anti-climactic, so what I will also do is discuss the last conclusion of the book because frankly, I found that last page and a half way more interesting that this whole chapter.

Well, while I did just bash this chapter for being a bit boring, it still does talk about an important part of organizing, organizing with others. Most people will have to deal with this issue because most of us live with others. I think the main (and really only) thing that you should understand from this chapter is that you must find a way to work with others, and not work against them. It is easy for there to be conflict when organizing with others, but take a different approach by working together to achieve the same goal.

So now, let me talk about the final conclusion of this book. The author summarizes what the purpose of this book should be. This book should help you understand yourself, and that you should use that understanding to achieve your goals. Personally, I have learned that I am very right brained. I have also learned that organization is a key to success.

But the thing is, if you put the messages of the book into action, will they work? From my personal experience they have. When forcing myself to see where I spend my time, I found myself watching to much television. So now, I watch much less, and am more productive. I have also focused on the goals that are important to me. School obviously is one, but another one that I haven’t focus one in a while is my health. This semester, I have started eating better, eating a bit less, and I have begun exercising. I have lost about 15 pounds since the end of September.

By the way, I am not crediting the book only for making me start to exercise and stop watching television. It was a combination of many things. but what this book did for me (and I hope for others also) is that it got me thinking about my goals, and organization. That thinking then leads to action, which then leads to accomplishment of your goals!

(Thank you Susan for making us buy this book, I enjoyed reading it.)

Chapter 13

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This chapter really changes the books focus from being about organizing papers to being about the inner struggle that organization itself is. I must admit, I did find some of the chapters before this a bit boring, however, this chapter was great!

The main reason why I enjoyed this chapter so much is because it tells us how important a person’s own thinking is to achieving their own goals. First, how you emotionally feel influences the way you think. A great point that the author made in this chapter is that if you suffer from anxiety or depression, that organization will be a problem that you will create, and will not want to deal with.

If a person is feeling well, they will at least make the effort to achieve their goals. Just like that one quote in the chapter (I paraphrasing here), but it is better do do something like crap, than not doing it at all. If you fail, its not a mistake, but a learning experience. At least you tried. People who aren’t thinking well spend time worrying, and not doing anything to achieve their goals.

So a question that I then ask you then is how do you get to the point of “thinking well?” Well, thinking well is when a person is feeling well. Your emotions are a powerful signal that tells you the state of mind that you’re in. They also guide the “approach” that you have towards everything you do.

As long as you have a positive, and realistic approach (mindset is a good word too), you can really do anything that you can believe in (no matter how big or small that goal is). Circumstances don’t stop people from doing great things, its the people themselves that do.

The main message that I got from this chapter is a very important one. It is that to solve most of the problem in our life, we must look at ourselves to fix them.

Character Blog 1

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So first, I apologize that I have begun this so late. It has been a struggle for me to get a good idea of what I want to do for my next year thesis script.

So, to start off this assignment, let me tell you about my basic story first. My story will be about a guy (who works as a driver) who drives around a high class “escort” one night. The main characters name is Jason. I was first influenced to create a story in a specific genre, a crime neo-noir thriller. I am influenced by films such as, Drive, Pulp Fiction, Collateral, and Taxi Driver.

With my main character of Jason, the main idea that I had for him is to put a man, who is trapped in a beautiful place (in this case, a city at night). My main intention is to create a character who is stuck in a world that he doesn’t want to live in. His circumstances force him to live their though. In this case, it is the world of crime.

The way I went about creating this character is at first, looking at myself. I, like many people, have felt a certain detachment with the place that i live in. Growing up, everything was just a little different for me. You see, I was raised with a Polish heritage, while all of my friends were raised with an Italian one. Most of them (if not all) were pretty well off: me not so much. They all played ice hockey, I couldn’t. These are the differences that made me feel detached from where I lived. While this is in the past, and I don’t have anymore of these feelings, I do understand them.

I try to make all of my characters personal. From my point of view, I feel that they have to be. I either look at myself, or to others to influence what kind of characters I create.


Chapter 12

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While there are many things that don’t relate to me personally in this chapter (coupons, photo’s, clipboards) there is one thing that did. The author talks about having a “Management Center” or a place that will be kind of the main area where you keep many of your personal things.

My Management Center (I like to think of it more like a Command Center) is my computer desk. I literally keep mostly every important think that I have there. Obviouly, first is my computer, but on the desk itself, I keep my wallet, watch, iPod, and car keys. On the floor, against my desk, I keep my school bag. On the desk, I also put important papers, like schools assignments, and recent receipts. I feel that it is a great thing to have a Management Center. It gives me a great sense of security, to know that all of my important things are in that one specific place.

As for more personal papers (that I described in my last post a bit) my computer desk and the shelves in my bedroom are more than enough for me to organize them. I have many of shelves above my computer desk, and also in my room. I have developed a system where I put all my personal papers in either binders, or large envelopes. I also make sure to label all of them.

This is the way I organize my personal papers and I understand that everybody else (especially right brained people) have their own specific ways of organizing their papers. To become truly organized, you must organize things the way that you feel is best.

Chapter 11

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In this chapter that is all about organizing paper, I realized one thing. We are relying on paper less then ever before. With computers being so prevalent in out lives, many of the things that we used to put on paper are now computer files, stored on our hard drives. Generally, the problem of unorganized paper is becoming less of a problem than it used to be, but it is still an important thing that we all should focus on.

Personally, I do face some paper dis-organization. They are mostly personal things such as work slips, taxes, OSAP/ college papers, school work, and receipts. I am right brained, but for the past few years (since I have been going to work/school) I have developed my own system for organizing papers.

Overall, I agreed with most of what the chapter had to say. The one point that really stood out for me in this chapter was the point that the author made about visualization. They mention that it is a good thing to visualize a clean room when you are beginning to clean it. I total agree with this point. By doing this, you think of the end goal that you are trying to achieve. This is also a great way to motivate yourself.

I also feel that this is a great way to look at mostly everything in your life. Personally, I want to be a successful filmmaker. If I can’t see myself as a successful filmmaker, then I will probably stop, and become an accountant or something else that’s boring. But the fact that I could see myself as a filmmaker one day, I am motivated. This motivation will help me develop a strong desire to work hard and one day, hopefully become that successful filmmaker.

You must look past your current situation, and be willing to see the positive side of things, whether it is to just clean your room, or what job you want to have.


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