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 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 November 1, 2001
Dan Aykroyd co-stars as an obnoxious brother-in-law who hangs around during his family's summer vacation in a cabin in a quiet part of the country. John Candy stars as the HILARIOUS and even somewhat heroic family member. What nobody on either side of the family knows is that there just might be some rough times ahead, but there's even more fun and overly hilarious times to be had.
I'm a huge fan of John Candy, so I couldn't wait to see this movie after all these years, and it was just as great as a lot of people have always told me it was. Whether Candy and Aykroyd are trying to capture a bat on the loose, or in their words "a flying mouse," or whether John Candy unwillingly goes water skiing, "The Great Outdoors" is chock full of laughs almost the whole way through. Everybody in the movie does a great job of acting and the movie never ceases to be entertaining, so I highly recommend it.
My only complaint is that there's maybe one too many subplots included, but they're not that bad. If you're a John Candy fan or if you like hilarious comedies, don't miss out on your chance to purchase "The Great Outdoors."
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 June 20, 2003
Dan Aykroyd and John Candy are hysterical in this lighthearted comedy. Candy and his family go to a cabin in the woods for what Candy hopes will be a relaxing summer vacation. Soon after their arrival, Aykroyd and his family show up uninvited and take over. Over the course of the week, they meet a man who has been struck by lightning 66 times, a 100-year-old man who dies on his birthday yet still comes to the party, and a feisty local girl who toys with Candy's oldest son. Add to this a family of determined racoons with a language all their own ("What do they think we have these wonderfully dextrous fingers for?"), an unwelcome bat flying in the house ("It buzzed me"), a dump full of hungry bears ("Yogi and Boo-boo in the flesh"), and a bald-headed grizzly ("Big bear chase me!") and hilarity ensues. It's a movie you'll want to watch again and again.