Cheese-inspired dreams and the ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ remake that never happened

This blog post is separate from the ongoing Lawn-Cutting Crew story. Peter and the gang will return soon!

I must have eaten a brick of moldy cheese for dinner, because I had the weirdest dream the other night.

I’d gotten up at 2 a.m. to use the restroom (because my bladder and I apparently live in different time zones). When I fell back asleep, I dreamed that a remake of the 1987 movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles was being released — and that like the original, it was going to star Steve Martin and John Candy.

Now, even in the dream, I’m aware that John Candy died in the early 1990s, so I’m thinking that either (1.) this “new” movie was made prior to Candy’s death and never released, or (2.) they digitally inserted Candy into the movie using leftover footage from the original film.

Somehow, I find out that it’s the second option — that the remake is digitally inserting Candy using leftover footage. And actually, this revelation makes logical sense — even in real life.

According to and Internet folklore, Planes, Trains and Automobiles originally was more than three hours long. The version we know today has been drastically cut down, and tons of unused footage apparently still exists. 

The trailer contains footage that doesn’t appear in the actual film, including a shot of John Candy brushing his teeth and another of Steve Martin eating a slice of pizza in a hotel room. The edited-for-TV version also contains a bonus scene showing Martin and Candy eating dinner on a plane (this scene, however, does appear as an iTunes extra on the digital version I own).

I’ve always wished that the scrap footage could be released as a series of bonus features. The movie is special to a lot of people, and I’d love to see the unused scenes  of John Candy. He was a comedic treasure, and it would be a shame for this irreplaceable footage of him never to see the light of day.

So in the dream, I’m wondering how they’re going to make a whole new movie around all this unused footage. How are they going to take all these bits and pieces and cobble them together into a coherent story? (Because these are the critical life-and-death problems I’m apparently trying to solve in my sleep.)

In my dream, I’m watching a trailer where Martin and Candy are speeding along a freeway to make it home in time for the Fourth of July. Candy looks just like he did in 1987 (because he’s been digitally inserted into the new film), while Martin looks noticeably older. I’m thinking, “Well, Steve Martin has always had gray hair, so maybe audiences won’t notice the 30-year age difference so much.”

Thanks to the moldy cheese coursing through my digestive tract, this all makes perfect sense, of course.

But here’s the weirdest part: my alarm goes off and I wake up with the dream fresh in my mind. As I roll out of bed and stagger bleary-eyed across the room (as regaining consciousness is the first of many hurdles the day throws at me), I’m thinking that I just had the best idea in the universe. 

The dream, I’m thinking to myself, is a money-making gem planted by God — sort of like how Keith Richards came up with the chords to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in his sleep. 

“This is going to be the key to the creative success that’s eluded me my entire life!” I say out loud, delivering a speech in my socks and underwear — as all the great orators do. “Forget about working on my crummy humor blog in the few fleeting moments of my free time. With this divinely inspired idea, I can quit my job and become a Hollywood legend.” (In my drowsiness, it’s not clear whether we’re talking “Orson Welles” legend, here, or “Ed Wood” legend.)

All I need to do, I tell myself, is call Paramount Studios and explain this astonishing concept. How hard can that be? I’m sure I can find them in the yellow pages. 

Or maybe I can send Steve Martin a direct message on Twitter. He won’t find that annoying at all. And besides, I’m sure nobody ever asks him for favors on social media. He’s probably just waiting for a one-of-a-kind creative genius like me to approach him with a movie proposal.

Of course, once I get my coffee and the caffeine kicks in, this twinkling gem of an idea begins to lose its luster, and the logistical challenges start to present themselves. 

Perhaps calling Paramount Studios won’t be as easy as I thought, I think to myself. And perhaps constructing an entire, coherent film around 30-year-old scrap footage isn’t the most sensible of cinematic undertakings. The studio might find more profit potential in, say, another superhero flick.

But I don’t want to make any decisions right away. I could continue to noodle around with the idea, or I could toss it entirely. 

Who knows? Maybe I’ll sleep on it.