Sunday, August 31, 2014

Movie Review: "The Great Outdoors" (1988)

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Movie"The Great Outdoors"
Director: Howard Deutch
Year: 1988
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Chet Ripley (John Candy) simply wants to give his wife Connie (Stephanie Faracy) and their two boys, Ben (Ian Giatti) and Buck (Chris Young), a nice vacation at the same lake he used to go to with his father. When Connie's sister Kate (Annette Bening) and her husband Roman (Dan Aykroyd) arrive uninvited with their twin daughters, it throws a wrench in Chet's plans. Roman is a Chicago stock broker and looks down on Chet's simple life, scoffing at the thought of grilling hot dogs and renting pontoon boats, and instead, insisting on lobster tail and high speed jet boats. Roman interjects himself in every facet of Chet's family vacation, criticizing him the whole way. 

Well, folks, we hope you enjoys our little summer series this year! If you did, please let us know, and if you have any other ideas for themed months, let us know that, too! For the month of September, we'll be going "back to school," so stay tuned!

This is one of John Candy's more memorable roles and he does an excellent job opposite the very funny Dan Aykroyd. Their 'odd couple' type of dynamic works, with Candy playing his usual "every-man" roll in Chet to Aykroyd's upper-crust, snobby Roman. They bring a lot of funny moments to the table, a lot of chuckles throughout, and a few heartier laugh-out-loud moments sprinkled in the movie as well. Some of the funniest scenes in the film come when Chet and Roman are left to go toe-to-toe with the local wildlife, bats, bears, you know, the usual forest fare. Beyond the main two actors, Annette Bening seems to play a snobby wife really well, knowing little about what's really going on with her husband and his dealings beyond what he tells her. Her obliviousness makes her character funny. Both of the actors who play the sons are basically interchangeable, but the two girls who play the creepy, menacing ginger twins serve a purpose and do a great job exuding an awkward, ever-watching "The Shining" twins type of feel, though they have almost zero dialogue.

There are elements of the script that drag the story down, unfortunately. One element in particular is the romantic sub-plot between Chris Young's Buck and a local girl named Cammie, played by Lucy Deakins. This silly, week-long summer teen romance is superfluous and completely unnecessary to the rest of the story.  In fact, their entire sub-plot could have been completely cut from the film and it probably would have been an improvement overall. The primary plot and this sub-plot never intersect. In addition, Cammie is never even mentioned in the main story line! It seems that this relationship only exists in order to give the film a full 90 minute run time. It runs its course early in the film, leaving a ton of wasted minutes that could have been used with more Candy and Aykroyd hysterics.

Overall, this is a decent family comedy with a ton of heart. Many families can relate to wanting the perfect vacation, just like in last week's movie, so when things goes awry, it can really pull a family apart. "The Great Outdoors" is a good mix of competition, family-friendly fun (minus a few bad words here and there), comedy, and nature written by wonderful John Hughes.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 40%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Admission"

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