The Great Outdoors (8/17/12)

The Great Outdoors

Movie One Hundred Ninety Two

In The Great Outdoors, a man’s perfect family vacation is ruined by his obnoxious brother-in-law.

Chet Ripley (John Candy) decides to take his family up to a rustic Wisconsin getaway and have a nice, peaceful vacation. Then Chet’s yuppie brother-in-law Roman (Dan Aykroyd) shows up with his strange family and decides to take over Chet’s vacation. Roman soon tells Chet that he has no money and has been faking the lifestyle and is looking for cash. Meanwhile, Chet’s son has a summer romance, and a giant bear is on the loose, looking for revenge, and Roman’s twin daughters go missing in an abandoned mine.

The Great Outdoors was part two of my John Candy-a-thon (part one was Uncle Buck) and while The Great Outdoors was also written by John Hughes, he chose not to direct it. While not as endearing or charming as Uncle Buck, The Great Outdoors still has some memorable moments. This time around, Candy plays a subdued family man, almost a Clark Griswold (from Vacation) type. Aykroyd plays a pushy, antagonistic guy that you almost feel sorry for but mostly not. I like Dan Aykroyd, but this role always kind of gets on my nerves.

If there’s one thing that holds back The Great Outdoors is the superfluous teen romance. Not only does it break up the flow, but it changes the tone of the movie into typical 80s teenager fare. It’s almost like they didn’t feel like they had enough movie there without it and threw it in just to make the film longer than 70 or 80 minutes. It doesn’t kill the movie, but I found myself zoning out a bit during those scenes.

The most memorable thing about The Great Outdoors for me was the giant bear. When Chet is telling the story about shooting the bear but only taking the fur off its scalp, your imagination paints a picture (even more so as a kid). When the bear actually shows up bald, it gets me every time. There are a few other parts that stick out, most of them involving Candy, but on a whole it’s a fairly anemic film.

Since The Great Outdoors comes as part of the John Candy boxset (also alongside Going Berserk, which I don’t hugely care for). While it has some laughs, it is not one of John Candy’s best films. The Great Outdoors is enjoyable to watch but there are better John Candy / John Hughes films to watch.

I give it 3 water skiing scenes out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


18 responses to “The Great Outdoors (8/17/12)

  1. I Just Watched This One This Past Weekend With My Nephew! hahaha
    He LOVES John Candy.
    Spaceballs, The Great Outdoors, Uncle Buck, and Who’s Harry Crumb? are His Fave Faves hahahaha

    • Ha, awesome! I was a big fan as a kid too. Still am.
      As a kid I loved The Great Outdoors, mostly for the bear, but it just hasn’t held up as well as I hoped. I’m glad that John Candy is still getting some love, though!

  2. Pingback: Uncle Buck (8/17/12) | Andy Watches Movies

  3. I think I bought that Box Set. Going Berserk is one they could have dumped. Why not another one? Plenty of better Candy obscure movies than that one. Nice review.

  4. I saw this as a kid, and the scene of shooting the bear stuck with me — of course, that’s the kind of scene any kid is going to remember. I watched it again a few months back, and I enjoyed it quite a bit; I rated it a little higher than you did. I agree that the teen romance subplot didn’t really fit in with the rest, though, and it’s definitely not a perfect film. I also agree with the overall Griswold-y feel to the film.

  5. I’ve seen this so long ago, that I don’t remember much about it. But I do remember the bear scene. But John Candy always made me laugh and I’m sure if I watched this again now, it would do the same thing.

  6. I love the scene in the restaurant with the dead birthday boy, and the eat for free if you finish every bite deal,the teen scenes are only boring and contrived now, but at first viewing I presumed everybody flirted with a pool que as I was around 9 years old,I was taking notes,you can imagine how disappointed I was to find out later that they don’t.

  7. Pingback: My August Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

  8. i wasn’t thrilled with the movie, but i did love the scene in which they try to catch the bat. when dan akroyd can’t find the bat and john candy says something like, “he’s refueling up in the rafters.” for some dumb reason i’m laughing while i type this. one of those moments i guess.

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