Movies of 1987 Bracket Game: Planes, Trains and Automobiles Vs. Roxanne


Steve Martin had a pretty good year in 1987.  After making a splash with his first lead role in the 1979 comedy, The Jerk, Martin’s movie career floundered in for a few years.  He rebounded in 1984 with the body-switching comedy All of Me and in 1987 he had two solid hits with Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Roxanne (which Martin also wrote).

But before we get our double dose of Martin, we need to examine the results of yesterday’s guilty pleasure/soundtrack/coming-of-age/grab-bag match-up.


I doubt too many readers had a hard time picking between Dirty Dancing and The Lost Boys.  There’s probably not a ton of overlap in their respective fanbases.  In the end, readers would rather be swept off their feet by Patrick Swayze than bitten by Kiefer Sutherland.  Dirty Dancing advanced to round two where it will face another love story in The Princess Bride.

Roxanne was Steve Martin’s update on Cyrano de Bergerac.  He spent three years working on the screenplay.  After twenty-five drafts, Martin felt his script was ready to be filmed.  Daryl Hannah (who also appears in this bracket game in Wall Street) was cast as the woman Martin helps to woo and ends up falling for.

While some critics complained that Roxanne was overly sappy, most were won over by Martin’s smart, funny script and winning performance as a romantic leading man.  It opened in fifth place at the box office behind The Untouchables which had already been in theaters a few weeks.  But positive word of mouth carried Roxanne to the 28th spot on the list of the highest-grossing movies of the year.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles was written and directed by John Hughes who was still best known as the grown-up behind the Brat Pack.  As his young stars were trying to shed their high school movie image, Hughes was doing the same with his first movie for adults.

Martin starred as an ad exec trying to get home from New York to his family in Chicago.  John Candy played an irritating salesman who ends up accompanying Martin on his way home.  At first, Candy’s character comes across as a pest, but as the movie unfolds Martin and the audience come to realize that pests are people too.

Most critics were won over by the movie’s mix of comedy and heart.  It opened in third place at the box office behind a reissue of Disney’s Cinderella.  The following week, it climbed up to second place behind Three Men and a Baby.  Ultimately, Planes, Trains and Automobiles ended up the 21st highest-grossing movie of the year right behind Eddie Murphy’s Raw.

Which of Martin’s sweet-natured comedies from 1987 do you prefer?


Posted on January 8, 2017, in bracket game, Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. For a while there, Steve Martin was one of the iconic funnymen in the country. He made big appearances on TV, he was a huge stand up act, he had best-selling records, and he had a string of successful movies that lasted from when I was 9 to when I was 21. There were some misses along the way, but overall you knew you were getting funny when you went to see him. He was also a very versatile performer who not only could play the banjo and make balloon animals like nobody’s business, but whose comedies ran the gamut from silly to obscene to heart warming to intellectual. We’re in his real peak here, and if you look back at the bracket we did for 1986 last year you’ll see that he was in two of those movies also (“Three Amigos!” and “Little Shop of Horrors”).

    Hooray for Steve Martin!

    Oh, I voted for Planes Trains and Automobiles because it has a few really top notch comedy scenes and is one of the few Thanksgiving movies out there (although you probably shouldn’t show it to your Grandma or your six year old).


    • I was a big Steve Martin fan back in the day. He was on a run there where most of his movies were at least good enough to warrant the price of a ticket. Yeah, every now and then you got a My Blue Heaven but if you read the reviews you knew to skip those. If he was on the Tonight Show or SNL, it was probably going to be a better than average episode.

      Having said that, I was a bit surprised to see how poorly he performed at the box office. After The Jerk, he had several bombs in a row. All of Me was a hit, but only a modest one. In the mid-eighties he reliably grossed around $40 million which meant his movies turned a profit. But he wasn’t starring in blockbusters. His first movie to gross over $100 million dollars was Parenthood which took him to the next level going into the 90’s. But really, I think his best movies were largely from the decade in which he wasn’t as successful.

      I still haven’t decided which way to cast my vote. I like both of these movies quite a bit, but don’t necessarily love either of them.


  2. I voted for TP&A on the strength of Candy’s performance. The final scene with Hughes’ choice of music and his shots of Candy ending with the freeze frame always get me.


    • Yeah, that ending, beginning with Martin and Candy walking down the street with each using one arm on that suitcase and right to the finale, touches me.


  3. I heard there was oscar buzz for roxane during 1987 .Its shame martin has been snubbed. Steve and jim carrey are only comic actors i know who have never recieved oscar nod


  4. I am sure roxanne was a hit in its time planes and trains did ok I would say 90s was martin bread and butter he was defintly a list at one point


  5. This one was easy for me: “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” all the way, so many funny and sweet scenes that I can recall. I think “Roxanne” is alright (put out the red light though, enough already), but I doubt it would ever make any kind of best ever list for me.


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