Every Thanksgiving, I watch the greatest comedy of all time: Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It’s beautifully written, intelligently directed, and the cast is absolute perfection. There’s just one thing that always bugs me.
Why didn’t eagles take them to Chicago?
You wouldn’t believe the rabbit holes I’ve been down searching for some kind of logical solution to this gaping plot hole. Many people say the blizzard in Chicago would mean the eagles couldn’t land safely at O’Hare. Others say the title Eagles, Eagles and Eagles isn’t nearly as memorable. These feeble attempts at clarification are the very definition of clutching at straws. Alas, the PTA fandom has yet to provide me with the answers I seek.
With each passing scene, the giant birds taunt me. As Steve Martin races Kevin Bacon to the cab, I wonder, “Why not hail an eagle instead?” As Neal furiously rants to the car rental lady, I’m reminded: “All those fucks could’ve been avoided with an eagle.” As Del emotionally reveals that Marie has been dead for eight years, I think: “You wouldn’t have had to relive all that if you’d just gotten an eagle.” Sometimes, I wonder whether I even like this movie anymore.
Before you ask, yes, I’ve seen the unearthed interview with John Hughes. Of course the author would defend his glaring omission of the eagles. It doesn’t make it any less of an error. You can see it in his eyes that he can’t believe he missed it. He could scarcely fathom that he’d been so careless. Where I once looked upon those rounded spectacles with awe, all I see reflecting back at me now are the incompetent talons of a bumbling fool.
“Just forget the eagles and enjoy the film.” I wish I could, my friend. I wish I could. I’d give anything to see a shower curtain ring without breaking down in frustration. I’d give anything to hear Ray Charles’s “Mess Around” without a swift right hook to my car radio. I’d give anything to witness Michael McKean’s performance in Better Call Saul without shouting, “He’s an accomplice to a sham!” Sometimes, you just can’t help it.
The only answer I’m half willing to accept is that eagles aren’t a taxi service. I can understand that. Why would these birds go out of their way just so a wealthy advertising executive can get back in time for his fancy Thanksgiving dinner? Not only is it the most justifiable line of thinking, but it’s also the response with the most upvotes on Reddit. Who am I to argue? Those people have a much deeper understanding of Hughes lore than I ever will.