on December 10, 2007
while i don't think this is the best John Candy movie made,it is still
pretty good.i guess it's considered a classic by now,being over 20
years old,and i think it deserves that status.it certainly has its
funny moments.and John Candy is just so likable,how could you not like
him?Dan Akroyd is also in the movie and he does good in his role.it's a
quality family movie,but there is a bit of mild language and implied
sexual innuendo.still,i don't think it's anything the whole family
couldn't watch,except maybe really young kids.there is a lot of
improvisation going on in this movie,which i really liked.the only
negative thing i can say about this movie is that it takes a bit of
time to get going.other than that that,it's a pretty good offering.
You pretty much know that any film featuring both John Candy and Dan Aykroyd is going to generate some laughs, making The Great Outdoors a pretty safe bet for anyone in the mood for a little comedy - and comedy is basically all you should expect here (any film that supplies subtitles for raccoon conversations isn't really trying to express anything meaningful), despite the fact that John Hughes wrote the script. For once, Hughes' involvement does more harm than good. While The Great Outdoors is certainly a good movie, it's not a very good John Hughes movie. Of course, it's hard to follow 80s classics like The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink, but Hughes' heart just didn't seem to be in this one. This is best demonstrated by the teenaged romance part of the story, which stumbles from the start and really goes nowhere at all. When you come right down to it, there just isn't any real depth to any of the characters in this film - and that's just not something you expect to get from John Hughes.
All Chet Ripley (John Candy) wanted was a nice family vacation in the country, a week to relax with his wife and bond with his two boys, especially the older one (frankly, I'm not really sure why the younger son was even in the movie). What he got was a "surprise" in the form of his brother-in-law Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd) and his rather strange family (with Annette Bening playing Mrs. Craig) turning up out of the blue to vacation right along with him. You can't just tell family to get out, though, even if that family includes an arrogant, rich, know-it-all like Roman. Chet does his best to grin and bear it, but you know it's just a matter of time before he loses it. When the inevitable does happen, it triggers a series of important events that re-draw some of the main characters, even giving Roman a heretofore unsuspected (albeit rather narrow) depth. Despite this, and a strangely insignificant summer romance between Buck (Chris Young) and a local girl (Lucy Deakins), The Great Outdoors really just plays for laughs and nothing else. Some of the more memorable scenes include Chet's wild water ski ride and, of course, the battle pitting Chet and Roman against a bat. You'll definitely laugh at several different moments, but the film never really elevates itself to the side-splitting plateau of comic genius. In many ways, this was a pretty safe comedy - it doesn't break any new ground, but it's a really comfortable fit. That would be okay for many a filmmaker, but The Great Outdoors just doesn't live up to John Hughes' usually higher standards.
on June 21, 2004
I adore "The Great Outdoors". This is one of my favorite John Candy movies of all time. Yeah it is no Shakespeare but I wouldn't have it any other way. Dan Ackroyd plays the obnoxious brother-in-law who crashes John Candy's family vacation up in the woods at a cozy little resort. Dan brings his neglected wife played by Annette Benning and their identical twin daughters who are bit on the scary side. The results is a non-stop laugh riot. No many how many times I have watched this film, I still find myself laughing uncontrollably, especially when the raccoons comes out at night to raid the trash cans. I loved it when the young raccoon is told what hot dogs are made of. Anyone familiar with Doug Seuss's bears would know that this is one of the films that the late Bart the Bear made as the bald-headed bear. I loved the final interaction between John Candy's character and the bald-headed bear. It is one of the funniest scenes in the film, next to the water-skiing scene. One of the classic moments in the film is when the entire family goes out to dinner and John Candy decides to order the ol' 96er (this enormous chunk of beef). I personally love "The Great Outdoors". It remains one of my favorite movies from the '80s. It is pure physical comedy. There are a lot worse films than this if you ask me, namely Carrot Top's lone film "Chairman of the Board".
on February 3, 2004
I remember "The Great Outdoors" being downright hilarious when I first saw this on the big screen in 1988/89. Candy & Aykroyd were, dare I say, in their 'prime'. Over the years tho, it's lost some of it's luster when viewed on the smaller box. While there's no comparison to Candy's "Planes, Trains & Automobiles", or "Uncle Buck" (or even Aykroyd's "The Blues Brothers" or "Trading Places") this movie has an equally important spot on your DVD library shelf. In "The Great Outdoors", John Candy plays the caring good guy family man with a heart, named Chet. His obnoxious brother Roman (played to a tee by Dan Aykroyd) comes to the log cabin unannounced with his snob of a wife Kate (played by then newcomer Annette Bening). When Chet's realization of his nice quiet vacation in the outdoors is going to be ruined by his arrogant brother... he trys desperately to make the best of the situation. Some dull moments are interlaced here with some extremely funny scenes... including some witty raccoons; Chet unintentionally going waterskiing; a flying bat inside the log cabin; a big bald bear; and probably the best moment - Chet eating the "Big 96'er". Outside of the original movie trailer, this DVD comes with no extras what-so-ever. Perhaps this was a sign that this typical 80's comedy was destined for the bargain rack. Glad this is finally out on DVD in the year 2004... what took Universal Studios so long?
on January 6, 2004
"The Great Outdoors" is one of those movies that you love to sit down with your family and watch over and over again, the type of movie that isn't necessarily a great film, but is lifted out of mediocrity by a terrific cast and lively joy surrounding it that is undeniably there. There isn't really anything that makes it worth watching, other than the funny comic cast that lends it a certain familiarity. It's not an underrated great comedy like "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," but rather an underrated mediocre comedy, one that you can watch over and over, almost as a tradition, and never get tired of, but furthermore, never fully understand its charm.
The film stars John Candy as Chet, a down-to-earth kinda guy who wants to give his family (a wife and two sons) a great vacation in the great outdoors, away from civilization and modern conveniences. Chet's family does not necessarily appreciate what he is doing for them but rather the thought, and so they go along with the oblivious Chet out into the middle of nowhere, staying in a log cabin infested by who-knows-what.
Chet is happy all the way up until they arrive at their cabin, because upon arrival they are greeted by Chet's glob of a brother, Roman (Dan Aykroyd), who shows up unannounced with his snobby wife (Annette Bening) and strange little twin girls (who serve to be a damper on the film, as they are almost so creepy it hurts the movie.)
Chet bites his tongue and watches Roman squirm his way into the cabin. As in most films like these, Chet seems to be the only one who notices how annoying Roman is. Remember "What About Bob," when Dr. Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) seemed to be the only one who resented an oddball patient named Bob (Bill Murray)? It's a bit like this with Chet and Roman. Chet's family doesn't seem to mind Roman, but Chet does. And in resenting Roman, Chet realizes he is being selfish, so he subconsciously, unknowingly pretends his family is bothered by Roman, which justifies him hating Roman and wanting him to leave. I bet you never thought I'd start reviewing this on a psychological level, eh? I guess you got more than you bargained for.
The script was written by John Hughes, who directed my favorite comedy of all time, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987), which also starred Candy. Hughes and Candy had a long-time collaboration - Hughes was even writing another script for Candy when John passed away in 1994. But what can be said about Hughes is that he tends to create real characters in realistic situations, with a clear sense of focus on what he wants to get across. It is only in recent years his scripts have been becoming more and more muddled ("Home Alone 3," "101 Dalmations"), and this may very well be because the times have passed on, yet John Hughes is still, in a way, living in the 80s, the decade that made him one of the most successful filmmakers within a short period of time. (His films such as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "The Breakfast Club" are icons of the eighties, and still have adamant fans to this day.)
A film like "The Great Outdoors" is mediocre at best, and I don't think anyone will say otherwise. Sure, there are a few funny scenes like when Chet goes on an accidental waterskiing trip, or when Chet and Roman try to rid their house of a bat, only to enter into the cabin wearing a crazy assortment of items. These are the type of cheap comical gags that would sink a normal film, but watching John Candy and Dan Aykroyd go through the motions is something more. Especially Candy, God rest his soul, who could and continues to always make me laugh.
I think that there's a certain charm about "The Great Outdoors," one that invites the viewer, lets the viewer know what they're in for, but entertains the viewer during the course of the film. The first time I saw "The Great Outdoors" I shrugged it off as another typical 80s film - which it is, in a way - but I found myself watching it every time it appeared on television since. I even tape recorded it last year and have since watched many of the funny parts over and over. This is an excrutiatingly mediocre comedy, one that goes through all the motions, but at the same time has a strange, undeniable charm about it that entices the viewer. It may not be a great comedy, "technically," but I guarantee it will be one that you'll come back to every once and a while, just for familiarity's sake.
on January 6, 2004
I LOVED this movie and would recommend it to everyone.
John Candy takes his family for a relaxing vaction in the mountains. To his surprise his obnoxious brother-inlaw, played by Dan Aykroyd and his family arrive. They were not welcome visitors.
Poor John tries desperately to have a relaxing time despite a cabin full of unwanted company. Unfortunately everything bad that can happen does. Including in this is another unwelcome guest, this time a bat. I'm telling you, I laughed myself silly over this scene. Perhaps it is because I have had such an adventure and it was much more fun watching someone else go through it. Of course the attack of the bald headed bear has to rank up there as well, as John and his brother-in-law try to protect their family against yet another unwanted guest.
This movie is a laugh a minute and one that will leave you with a giggle in your heart. Feeling down? Get this movie!
Truly a legacy of the one we all will greatly miss, Mr. John Candy.
on July 25, 2002
There hasn't been a family vacation like this since the Griswold's took that memorable trek across country in search of WalleyWorld and discovered the downside of "quality time" instead. This film follows a similar path, and demonstrates how even the best laid plans can wind up being a blueprint for chaos. The old getting-away-from-it-all "R&R" and well intentioned parent/child "bonding" takes a shot in "The Great Outdoors," directed by Howard Deutch, which begins with a trip to the Wisconsin woods and ends up in a suite in Comedy Heaven. After all, when you mix some clueless city-slickers with nature and all it's trappings, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Murphy's Law will soon prevail. Here, the filmmakers do, and it does; and in the end, you may not be up for answering that call of the wild in light of all you've witnessed, but you're sure going to be laughing while you think about it. And it certainly makes visiting the woods vicariously seem like the best-- in fact, the "only"-- way to go.
For the perfect "family" vacation, Chet (John Candy) takes his wife, Connie (Stephanie Faracy), and their two boys, Buck and Ben (Chris Young, Ian Giatti) to a lakeside lodge in Wisconsin...Working from an insightful screenplay (by John Hughes) that mines the lighter side of human nature, and with stars Candy and Aykroyd decidedly in their element, Deutch proceeds to establish a pace and timing that perfectly keeps the film on track, as he presents the story in a way that best serves the talent and material at his disposal. Candy and Aykroyd play so well off of one another, and Deutch never fails to capitalize on any and all opportunities the two happen to present as their characters develop. With all he's given to work with, it's a matter of Deutch having the sense to let it happen, while employing his own innate sense of what works to present it all as cohesively and hilariously as possible, which he succeeds in so doing. Rich in characterization and visual gags, Deutch plays up the kind of situations that could very well-- and often do-- happen in such a setting, especially with the kind of personalities depicted here involved. You've heard of the "accident waiting to happen?" Well, meet Chet and Roman.
John Candy is imbued with a natural and empathetic personality he employs to great effect with characters like Jack, in "Summer Rental" and Del Griffith, in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." But in "normal guy" mode, Chet just may be Candy's definitive portrayal. In creating Chet, Candy gives you a caring individual, one who is willing to open himself up and meet you more than half-way; a guy who seeks that which is pure and good, and wants to share it once he's found it. He's a character to whom you can readily relate because there's something of Chet in everyone (albeit deeply buried in some cases), and it creates that strong sense of identification that ensures that emotional connection with the audience. And it's played perfectly by Candy, who makes Chet an unforgettable character.
Then there's Dan Aykroyd, who plays Roman absolutely to perfection; this is, in fact, the role he was seemingly born to play. And what makes this character so hilarious and engaging is the fact that there's an "Uncle Roman" in every family, and from the moment he pulls up to the lodge in the big car with the "Roman I" license plates, you know who this guy is. He walks the walk and talks the talk (then talks some more); he's the salesman who could sell a vacuum cleaner to a dust bunny. You'll recognize him immediately because in one form or another he's been to every family function you've ever attended, and Aykroyd has it all SO down, in the way he looks, moves, talks and, most especially in that condescending attitude he affects so well. And watching him interact with Candy's Chet is a total riot. It's a terrific performance by Aykroyd, and except for a bit during the credits when he takes to the dance floor, there's no trace of Elwood Blues here; this guy is 100% "Roman."
Also adding greatly to the festivities are the solid performances by Faracy, who as Connie more than holds her own with Candy, and Bening, making an auspicious big screen debut as Kate.
The supporting cast includes Robert Prosky (Wally), Zoaunne LeRoy (Juanita), Nancy Lenehan (Waitress) and Britt Leach (Reg). A fun and funny film that is pure entertainment, "The Great Outdoors" is great comedy that showcases two of the best in the business doing what they do best: Making you laugh. Putting Candy and Aykroyd together was inspired casting; it's one of those, "if this works, it's going to be great" propositions. It does, and it is.
on June 30, 2002
The current movie climate always promises movies that are "fun for everyone," but they usually end up resorting to unoriginal slapstick gags or dumbing themselves down for kids. This movie is a prime example of a film that truly has something for everyone, without retread jokes. It is suitable for kids, yet leaves in humor that adults will love too. How does it do that, you may ask? Because this movie is also an example of why comedies that people can truly relate to are the best. John Hughes obviously must have vacationed with family to Wisconsin, because I'm from Chicago and vacationed with my family to the North woods many a summer (and fell in love with many a local gal), and this movie is absolutly spot on in recreating those feelings and experiences that we all have, like family getaways and obnoxious in-laws. It was Candy at his best and Ackroyd when he was still doing smart humor and not Blues Brothers 2000. Of the highest recommendation, smart humor and fun for EVERYONE, how can you go wrong?
on July 29, 2000
Having been on many a camping trip myself, and many in the company of relatives other than just my immediate family, the Great Outdoors really hits home with me. This is more than just a Candy/Akroyd film or a John Hughes movie: This is a movie about the Great American Family Camping Trip.
It's a comedy, not intended to be ultimate cinema; people who watch this moving looking for the best acting or plot in the world will be disappointed. Where the movie succeeds, what makes it great, is in its ability to so perfectly capture the spirit of the cabin-up-north vacation. It's about all the little pitfalls and hidden catastrophes that we all look back at and laugh about; it's about the humorous side of the friction (and the bonds) between family in a different setting.
Judged as an ordinary movie, it takes a bad rap; but if you've been on one of these vacation trips then you're likely to identify with the story and truly enjoy it. The bear story, the fishing expedition, the waterskiing disaster, the plundering racoons, and the rustic restaurant--they're all a part of the experience. When I saw the previews I only saw what the critics saw; when I watched the movie itself, I recognized pieces of my own camping adventures sewn together in a really delightful way. (The soundtrack in particular makes its mark here, adding a little humor or simply some fun into the scenes where it appears.)
If you've stayed in one of those cabins or just gone on vacation with your relatives, you'll probably love this movie. If you've never been, you might still enjoy it but it won't ring as true. As for me, I give it the full five stars. Bravo to the makers of this film for delivering the essence of the family camping trip.
on January 23, 2001
I've seen this movie I don't know how many times and there is still a scene missing from the DVD version. The scene that is missing is when John Candy and sons are attempting to squeeze the speed boat with trailer between two upright (vertical) canoes. A ranger played by Jerry Maren, (who is also seen in Leap of Faith as Officer Lowell) is frequently uncredited in films and is missing from this DVD version. I wonder why because the scene is as funny as the rest of the movie.
Aside from this small omission, the movie is a great deal of fun (especially if you like John Candy and Dan Ackroid). Annette Bening also stars which adds to the flavor of the movie. In addition, if you have seen this movie on free TV, you haven't seen (or heard) some of the racoon subtitles (among other things). Also, the version I bought has Dolby Digital /5.1 channels of discrete audio as well as Dolby Surround/4 channels of encoded audio. What a great movie!