Planes, Trains and Automobiles 4K review

Nov 08, 2022- Permalink

At this time of the year it’s all about Christmas movies, but John Hughes’ Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a comedy that focuses on U.S. Thanksgiving. Neal Page (Steve Martin) is just trying to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving. After a series of events he misses his flight and ends up seatmates on a new flight with Del Griffith (John Candy), a slovenly shower curtain ring salesman. When the flight is diverted to Wichita, they find themselves thrown together and sharing a series of mishaps during their attempts to get home. Martin and Candy are able to mix the comedy and the drama in a way only great comedians can. Paramount is releasing the movie on 4K and I had a chance to take a look.

The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Like some other Paramount 4K transfers — I’m looking at you Fatal Attraction and Saturday Night Fever — Planes, Trains and Automobiles seems to suffer from issues with grain management. One scene (or even one shot in a scene) the image is razor sharp with a pleasing grain structure and the next digital noise reduction seems to have been used to smooth out the grain resulting in an almost waxy image that appears to have an artificial grain added to it. When the image is great it’s the best the movie has looked but when it’s not …

On the audio side of things, you have the choice of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack as well as Spanish (Latin American) and Portuguese Dolby Digital Mono, and Spanish (Spain), German, French, and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. The 5.1 soundtrack is recycled from past Blu-ray releases, which like many comedies is front heavy. The dialogue is clear, centred and well prioritized and music cues are bright and dynamic. Your surrounds do get some work when the comic action calls for it.

The 4K comes with a digital code and a bonus Blu-ray disc. On the 4K disc, there’s a bunch of legacy extras including a press conference with Hughes, Candy and Martin, a couple of featurettes on Hughes, a tribute to John Candy and a deleted scene. The bonus extra Blu-ray is the real gem. Called Lost Luggage, it features 75 minutes of deleted and extended scenes recently found in Hughes’ archives. There’s also an audition scene from Dylan Baker.

John Hughes. John Candy. Steve Martin. A funny and heartwarming story. This should be a grand slam home run of a recommendation for a movie loved by millions. The video presentation is plagued with the smoothing issues I mentioned above, so it’s not really a huge upgrade over the previous Blu-ray release. If you don’t own it, I’d say the bonus disc with 75 minutes of extra Candy and Martin would be the selling point of this Planes, Trains and Automobiles 4K release.