Setting Cars on Fire

Okay, warning. I'm going to get a little sentimental. Yeah, I know the title wouldn't lead one to think so, but it's coming, just wait.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), it's a movie that many of us have seen. And what a great movie it is. Despite the cheesy 80s music a certain moments, it's gotta be in my top 15. John Candy makes this movie.

If you haven't seen it, I'll try and give you a brief synopsis. Steve Martin is attempting to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving and much to his chagrin, he finds himself on a plane to Chicago, sitting next to John Candy, the very guy who stole a cab from Martin at the beginning of the movie. In the hilarity that ensues, Martin and Candy attemp to get to Chicago via, well, planes, trains and automobiles. Martin starts out by unabashedly informing Candy about how incredibly annoying he is and what a big mouth he has, in addition to his snoring, annoying antics, etc. After the series of unfortunate events and intimate interactions, they end up in a friendship of the most unlikely sorts and Candy winds up spending Thanksgiving with Martin's family.

To my suprise, as I watched it on Saturday, in the midst of the side splitting comments (e.g. Candy: "We'd have better luck trying to play pick up sticks with our butt cheeks) I found it to have some redeeming qualities. I'd seen it a couple times before, but hadn't ever really watched it, well, intelligently. I just laughed when I was supposed to laugh before, but for some reason, just the raw reality of their interactions, unfortunate circumstances (okay, sometimes it goes a bit far), conversation and eventual friendship formation.

At one point, after finally getting a rental vehicle--nevermind the fact that Candy only got it because he was using Martin's credit card--the two are on the road to Chi-Town. While Martin is sleeping, Candy accidently flips his cigarette in the back seat and loses control of the vehicle, sending them the wrong direction down the interstate. They step out of the car after just missing death to drag their luggage off of the interstate, when they hear the flames. The car is smoldering from the cigarette fire. The two guys stand there, just gawking at their only way home as it goes up in flames. They wind up laughing it off despite the fact that they've lost pretty much everything and have been "wearing the same underwear since Tuesday." That's when I realized that everyone should blow up a car, figuratively speaking (or maybe not).

Friends don't become friends through chatter. Friends become close by experiencing life's crazy ups and downs together. Community is community when we can laugh with our friends who are laughing and mourn with those who are mourning and persevere through life's trials with one another. Too often, we can give up on friends and not have mercy and forgiveness and a spirit of peace. I'm learning there is something to be said for loyalty and trudging through the muck to get to the laughter and joy and deeper relationship.


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