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


1987 is just flying by.  Or at least the Movies of 1987 Bracket Game is.  Today, we’re bringing Round Two to a close with two movies that will leave you laughing.  Planes, Trains and Automobiles took audiences on a road trip home with Steve Martin and John Candy.  And Raising Arizona showed what happened when an ex-con and an ex-cop resort to kidnapping to start a family.  Which movie will reign as the top comedy of the year?  That’s up to you guys.  I just work here.

But first, let’s look at the results of yesterday’s romantic match-up.


This one wasn’t even close.  In fact, it was the most lopsided victory we have had yet in this game.  The Princess Bride crushed Dirty Dancing with over 80% of the votes.  I guess that will teach Baby not to get out of the corner.  That means Princess Buttercup and Wesley will advance to face the winner of today’s match in the final four.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles was a departure for writer-director John Hughes.  Hughes was a writer for National Lampoon and he came to Hollywood as a writer on movies like Mr. Mom and National Lampoon’s Vacation.  He got his chance to direct with Sixteen Candles which starred his personal muse, Molly Ringwald.  For the next couple of years, Hughes worked with a group of young actors who would come to be known as the Brat Pack.  With his next few movies, Hughes would redefine the coming-of-age movie for the eighties.

The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in particular have stood the test of time.  But Hughes also directed Weird Science and produced Pretty and Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful.  Insanely prolific, Hughes wrote them all.  And that’s just his output from 1985-1987.

But after just a couple of years, the popularity of the Brat Pack and Hughes’ style of coming-of-age dramas was starting to fade.  Molly Ringwald turned down Some Kind of Wonderful because she didn’t want to keep playing a high school student.  Hughes was upset by her rejection, but at the same time he was moving on to more mature movies himself with Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Most of the Brat Pack failed to make the transition to adult roles.  At least initially.  Despite the success of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Hughes struggled as a director in the post Brat Pack era.  His follow-up, She’s Having a Baby, was a dud.  After that Uncle Buck was a modest hit but then Hughes’ final movie as a director, Curly Sue, bombed.

Fortunately for Hughes, he had writing to fall back on.  He wrote and produced the 1990 hit, Home Alone, which more or less set the tone for the rest of his career.  Hughes went on to write and produce a number of movies through the 90’s including the Home Alone sequels, Dennis the Menace, Flubber and Baby’s Day Out.  He remained prolific, but he was turning out crap.  His glory days arguably ended with Planes, Trains and Automobiles in 1987.

Warning, this clip is definitely not suitable for work.

We already discussed Joel and Ethan Coen in the first round.  Raising Arizona was their follow-up to the neo noir, Blood Simple.  For their leading man, they chose Nicolas Cage who butted heads with the brothers over suggestions he made which they ignored.  Cage remarked, “Joel and Ethan have a very strong vision and I’ve learned how difficult it is to accept another artist’s vision. They have an autocratic nature.”

Cage was still a rookie as a movie star.  His uncle is of course director Francis Ford Coppola who helped him out with early roles in movies like Rumble Fish and The Cotton Club.  Coppola gave his nephew his first lead role in the 1986 comedy-drama, Peggy Sue Got Married, and then he nearly fire him for doing a goofy voice for the entire movie.

1987 was the year Cage came into his own.  Not so much due to starring in the cult comedy Raising Arizona.  Most people didn’t pay the movie much attention until they saw it over and over again on cable and home video.  It was Moonstruck, also released in 1987, that made people take notice of Cage.

For much of the late 80’s and early 90’s, Cage struggled to capitalize on the success of Moonstruck.  But in 1995, he won Best Actor for Leaving Las Vegas.  And the following year he reinvented himself as an action star with The Rock.  For about a decade after that, Cage was able to bounce back and forth between prestige pictures and popcorn movies.  He had the best of both worlds.

But eventually, bad choices and fiscal irresponsibility caught up with Cage.  In recent years, he’s found himself cashing any paycheck he is offered to pay off his massive debts.  That has taken his career path into the limbo of direct-to-video fare.

Which comedy should round out our final four?


Posted on January 13, 2017, in bracket game, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Love Planes Trains And Automobiles. But had to go with Raising Arizona.


  2. I think we have a sizable contingent of Coen Brothers fans here.


    • LOL.

      It would appear so. I always assumed, but I didn’t realize the degree to which that was true.

      The fact that Fargo was our 1996 bracket game winner probably should have tipped me off.


  3. As far as I’m concerned, whichever film “loses” this round you cannot go wrong watching either film here. Both Raising Arizona and Planes, Trains and Automobiles are strong wins in my book.


  4. This is the first matchup in this game that makes me regret one of the films having to lose. I would probably vote for either one over anything in the top half of the bracket. That said, there’s no question in my mind that Raising Arizona is the true classic here.


  5. I think these films are pretty equal in entertainment and ability, but “Raising Arizona” takes more chances and is a little funkier, so I voted for that (finally, on the right side of the blowout).
    It’s funny that “A F**ki*g Car” scene in “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” is the reason that the film is rated R. However, I’ve been in “fun” situations like that before, so I can imagine getting a little salty.


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