Yes, I am saddened by the news about director John Hughes’ sudden death of a heart attack today. He was only 59, and might have had a comeback in him. I would have welcomed that. Some of his films were creative, hilarious, and even unusually thoughtful for pop comedies.

I have so many memories attached to Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which was a favorite at high-school slumber parties. I’ve quoted almost every line in that movie many, many times. Yes, even the lines from that scene… that one that made it a controversial choice for parties among my conservative Christian classmates.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles actually meant something to me. It may be that I’m revising my memories for the sake of idealism, but I don’t think so. I seem to remember how the conclusion of that film often sobered my circle of friends as we watched. We would laugh uproariously at Del Griffith (John Candy) and his rude behavior, his intolerable yammering, his clumsiness. I don’t think that was cruel laughter; we laughed out of sympathy for Steve Martin’s character, for we could relate to his suffering. We all knew what it was like to be annoyed by somebody else’s company. But at the end, we would be moved, if only for a few moments, by the way the film emphasized the value of even the most annoying human being. We came to care about Del, and to realize that, yes, even he deserves a place at the Thanksgiving table. I suspect the film made us less likely to taunt our awkward or aggravating classmates.

Did any of Hughes’ movies actually mean something to you? Tell me about it.

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