Over the past few days I’ve published a couple of posts discussing whether or not Die Hard (1988) and Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) are Christmas movies. For the record, THEY ARE CHRISTMAS MOVIES!

End of discussion.


But what about the 1987 John Hughes comedy, Planes, Trains and Automobiles? Over the past few days I’ve noticed a couple of people on social media asking the question: Is Planes, Trains and Automobiles a Christmas film?

Well, let me clear this one up.

Image: ©Paramount Pictures


Planes, Trains and Automobiles is NOT a Christmas movie.

Seriously, it’s not.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a movie set around Thanksgiving. The lead characters, Neal Page and Del Griffith spend the majority of the movie travelling across country to get home for Thanksgiving.

Confusion No.1

I can understand why some people might get a little mixed up when they’re considering what type of movie this is; from a quick glance at the image above, or the one at the top of this post you can see Steve Martin and John Candy covered in snow. Automatically, when we see snow, we often think of Christmas, and for those not familiar with this movie this imagery suggests Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a Christmas film.

But, the snow here has nothing to do with Christmas. A blizzard is a key part of the story and is one of the many problems that Neal and Del encounter, so the snow is to do with a blizzard and nothing to do with creating a Christmas setting.

Confusion No.2

With a title such as Planes, Trains and Automobiles it is clear the movie is about travel, which makes people think that the two main characters in the film are travelling home for the holidays. As stated above, this is true, but the holiday that is the focus of this journey is Thanksgiving and NOT Christmas.


Confusion No.3

The movie tends to crop up on TV during the tail-end of the year, leading many to associate it with dark nights and yep, you guessed it, Christmas. However, the reason Planes, Trains and Automobiles appears on TV around the latter half of the year is because Thanksgiving takes place at the end of November, just a few short weeks before all the Christmas films start appearing on the television schedules.

Confusion No.4

And finally, perhaps another reason why some people get confused about the subject of this movie is because not every country celebrates Thanksgiving. Here in the UK, Thanksgiving isn’t really a thing, so the subject matter kind of gets lost a little, leading some people to automatically presume it’s a Christmas-related film.


Could Planes, Trains and Automobiles be a Christmas movie?

In theory, if writer/director, John Hughes had switched out the word Thanksgiving for the word Christmas, Planes, Trains and Automobiles could easily have been a Christmas movie – but it’s not. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is 100% NOT a Christmas movie.

Now, let’s never speak of this again.

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