Cinema: Worst-Case Scenario PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES

What is the holiday season's most chilling refrain? "My mother called; she says she can stay two weeks"? "Here's a letter from your daughter; she's engaged and she's bringing her fiance home so we can meet him"? "He didn't say the whole fraternity; just the guys from his floor, and it's only for a weekend"? Strong candidates. But for terror at its primal level, there is nothing quite like "There's a blizzard in Chicago; they've just closed O'Hare."

The effects of that horrific bulletin can plunge thousands of American lives into a maelstrom. Desperate ticket-counter pleas. Improvised sleeping arrangements. Long-distance calls...