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?