John Candy as the big hearted family man, Chet Ripley and his sweet wife Connie played by Stephanie Faracy venture to Winconsin's big woods on the lake with their two boys for their yearly nice, relaxing, family vacation. Things are going well for the Ripley's until...
Chet's obnoxious, wheeler dealer, snake of a brother-in-law, Roman Craig, played by Dan Aykroyd and his snooty and icy wife Kate, played by Annette Bening (in her screen debut) show up quite unannounced to spend some family time with the Ripleys. Also in tow are Roman and Kate's two red headed creepy twin daughters Kara and Mara. These twin girls have nothing on the twin girls from the movie, "The Shining" except these creepy little girls are ALIVE!
However the Craig Family appearance at the Ripley cabin door is QUITE uninvited! That makes no nevermind to Roman, who spoils most of the family fun that Chet has planned for him and his sons.
When Chet is grilling hamburgers and hotdogs outside, Roman goes and buys lobsters to grill and spoils Chet's family meal. When Chet wants to rent a pontoon boat to fish with his boys, Uncle Roman instead rents a jetboat with a great water ski scene ensuing!
One of the best scenes in the movie is when the whole clan goes out to eat at a steakhouse and Chet puts down "the ol' 96'er". A 96 oz. steak (gristle, fat and all!!)so that the rest of the family can get their meals for free!
There is a nice romance budding between Chet's oldest boy Buck and another vacationer, Cammie (a young Lucy Deakins), several hilarious scenes with wildlife such as bats, raccoons and a bald headed bear of Calaveras County and a even a birthday party for a dead guy!
The Great Outdoors is a great family movie to be enjoyed by all!
on November 26, 2005
I love John Candy and Dan Ackroyd in this film. Be willing to suspend any requirement you may have for reality and let your imagination run with the plot. THIS IS A VERY HONEST PORTRAYAL (IF STEREOTYPICAL) OF CHICAGO RESIDENTS WHO LEAVE CHICAGO TO GO NORTH TO WISCONSIN FOR VACATION (I've lived in Chicago). The film is not aging well, but, alas, John Candy is no longer with us so we have to content ourselves with what we have of John Candy and be grateful for the medium that has preserved his talent for us to still enjoy. The movie is reminiscent of the "Vacation" movies with Chevy Chase. I actually "guffawed", a huge belly laugh, at some of the stunts in this movie, especially the scene where John Candy is driving a car pulling a speed boat on a trailer. I agree with all of the positive reviewers here and just had to put my two cents in too. A scene at the beginning of the movie where John Candy's character talks his wife out of her bra while the kids are outside playing and another crack about using the washing machine as a substitute for sex, should have probably earned this movie a PG-13 rating instead of a straight PG. I noticed some negative reviews here from folks who showed the flick to too young viewers. BE SURE TO WATCH THE MOVIE THROUGH TO THE END. THERE IS A GREAT DANCE SCENE AT THE END WHILE THE CREDITS ARE RUNNING~~
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
"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 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.
I've watched this many times on cable, but just now started my John Candy DVD collection. Candy plays a fantastic 'sympathetic stumblebum' with a heart of gold and a family that loves him, but are sometimes a little embarrassed of him. He's looking forward to a relaxing vacation when his rich, annoying brother-in-law invites himself to join the fun at the cabin in the woods. Lot's of funny antics (one of my favorite scenes involves the racoons...though I no longer eat hotdogs, 'we know what they're made of').
Chrissy K. McVay - Author
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.