Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

the pitches

Title: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne

Opening Text:

16 Million American men and women served as military in WWII. Of those that stayed behind, many did their part to support the war effort, waiting and hoping for the day when the fighting would end, and their loved ones could come home.

Cincinnati, Ohio

A neighborhood of simple homes is decorated with American flags. Mothers are sending children off to school. Some are suiting up in overalls. We see a middle-aged woman step from her home, the porch decorated in emblems of American and military pride, icons of membership in organizations like the Office of Civilian Defense, The Red Cross, Zoo Force, and plaques designated her offices of Raid Warden and Fire Watcher.

In a montage of door-to-door conversations and home inspections, Marigold Johnson (Melissa McCarthy), is making sure her neighborhood is up to snuff, ready for possible attack and doing everything they can to keep America free and safe.

When Marigold reaches the entrance to a hill top mansion, she blows a nervous breath and approaches the door. Lilly Burton (Rose Byrne) answers the door in a fur coat and a drink in her hand. It appears this isn’t her first one of the day. Marigold attempts to hand her a flyer, which Lilly knocks away. Lilly slams the door in her neighbor’s face, leaving Marigold in angered determination.

The montage shifts to repeated attempts by Marigold to speak with Lilly. Each time she is rebuffed. Marigold is fed up. When Lilly won’t turn out her fireplace during an air raid, Marigold pours sand down the chimney. When Lilly rejects the scrap drive, Marigold dismantles Lilly’s car. When Lilly won’t buy war bonds, Marigold helps herself into her home and starts stuffing expensive items into a bag. This last act ends with Marigold in jail.

While in jail, the war has ended. Marigold returns home to find a letter from her husband in the mail. He’s coming home and his ship has plans to dock in New York a week from today. Marigold is ecstatic, but realizes she’s too poor to make the trip. Her neighbors are either in the same boat or have already left to meet their returning soldiers, but she refuses to be robbed of any more time away from her man. She goes to the only person she knows that has the money to help.

Begging and pleading gets Marigold nowhere with a loan, but conveniently, Lilly is planning the same trip to New York and is without any help to pack her bags or drive her to the airport. After many visits to Lilly’s house encouraging women to take up factory work, it seems all Lilly’s servants left her employ for better wages. Now Lilly wants to torture Marigold as revenge. Lilly will pay her way if Marigold will be her personal servant.

Marigold reluctantly agrees and we see the pair travelling to New York via plane, car, and bus, each experience ending with increasing comical disaster. It’s a tour of 1940s America and the various hardships for families of all races as we see how the war has taken its indirect toll.

Marigold will help put a wing back on a plane with her riveting skills (Lilly baffled by the sudden appearance of Marigold’s riveter), Lilly will show Marigold fashion and makeup as it was believed keeping American women looking their best was good for morale. When stopping for help from a farmer, Marigold will have to take down a wild bull, demonstrating her Zoo Force training, which was needed to take out dangerous animals had the local zoo been breached during a bombing. Lilly will trade her mink fur for a coat of chicken feathers. The women will bond and learn from one another, and talk about their husbands’ absence.

Anxious to see her husband, Marigold overlooks how reluctant Lilly is to reach New York, as if dreading being reunited. When they finally arrive at the docks, the two women part, Marigold rushing with joy to her husband. The pair are arranging travel home when they see a man approach Lilly. Tears in their eyes, he hands her dog tags and a package, hugging her briefly before meeting his own wife nearby. Lilly’s husband had died sometime during the war, but she had promised him she’d be there when he arrived.

In a flash forward, we see Marigold preparing her home for Thanksgiving, and Lilly knocks on the door. She’s carrying a cake decorated with tiny vehicles from their trip: planes, trains, and automobiles.

Picture of Chris Sully

Chris Sully

Title: Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Directed by: Jay Roach
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, K. Trevor Wilson

We start the film off in the waiting room, just outside a large meeting room in a downtown New York building. Neal Page (Sudeikis) is waiting to enter the room, constantly checking his watch and phone while mumbling the words to his presentation. In the distance we see holiday decorations and a Christmas tree in the lobby area nearby.

Neal, an entrepreneur (specifically an app developer) is finally invited into the meeting room and introduced to several young men in suits. He’s there to pitch his latest venture – an app for valuing, buying and selling sneakers. The meeting has been delayed a few hours and gets delayed further when the investors throw endless questions at Neal’s proposal, shooting holes in every angle of his pitch.

Hours late and desperately seeking to get home to his wife and kids, Neal finally sprints out of the office & down to street level. He’s checking his phone every few seconds for a status update on where his Uber driver is and arrives at the corner just in time to meet his driver. As he approaches the car, he sees another man getting in. The camera pans to the rider’s face to show Kevin Bacon and there’s an exchange between the Uber driver and Kevin Bacon, who says “Hey, I’m Neal and YES – I’m headed to the airport.”

Our Neal (Sudeikis) attempts to call another Uber ride, but can’t, since he is technically in an Uber already (what are the odds of someone with the same name heading to the airport really) so he sees a taxi and races across the street to get in. He sits down in the back seat and is about to shut the door when he realizes that one of his promo materials has fallen to the ground just outside the cab and is blowing down the street. He steps out to grab it and chases it a few feet before finally catching up to it. As he pivots to return to the cab, he sees a large man getting in and the cab taking off. He yells and gets the attention of the passenger, played by K Trevor Wilson. As the events all start to settle in, Neal reaches to his pocket for his phone, only to realize that he left it sitting in the back seat of the cab.

Neal still has his wallet and catches another cab to the airport. He’s already missed his flight, but it is able to get booked on the last flight to L.A. With plenty of time to kill before his flight, he heads to the Starbucks for a coffee and gets in line right behind a big, burly guy. He eventually catches a look at the guys face and it turns out to be his cab thief. A couple of snarky comments later, the two get into an exchange about the stolen cab and Del Griffith finally introduces himself & offers to buy Neal a coffee. Of course he turns it down and buys his own.

Much like the original film, our two stars are both headed back home (L.A.) at one of the WORST possible times to travel across country. Christmas is just a couple days away and our leads MUST get home. The film’s core is the same, but we run into some unique situations for Neal and Del (to keep it fresh and somewhat original).

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