Review of 'The Great Outdoors'

great_outdoors.jpg Chet Ripley (John Candy) is determined to have an old-fashioned camping trip with his family in a lakeside cabin. Little does he know his brother Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd), whose personality is polar opposite, joins them as a rather unwelcome surprise. Quickly Roman's easy-spending go-get-em attitude grates on Chet and the tensions begin to mount as we move from one outrageous episode to the next as the city slickers come to grips with the reality of life in the great outdoors.

This is an old-school comedy from the late 80s that now somewhat fails to impress with the cheesy effects and unimaginative writing. Even the comedic elements somewhat fall flat and now grate (everyone running around like children when a bat shows up which they promptly kill with a tennis racket? A bear wounded by gunshot giving it a Hohawk hair cut? All four car doors opening and hitting four perfectly placed trees? Oh dear…and these are the highlights!). Having said that it, “The Great Outdoors” does have some funny moments (don't think too hard about the dead bat) but for the most part it is a weak commentary on the importance of family and a simplistic morality tale of the wickedness of greed. It could have been so much better with the huge comedic talents of Candy and Aykroyd in attendance but here we suffer through a weak script and an easily forgotten plot while we are battered over the head with outrageously over-the-top skits such as seeing a panicking (and rather large) Candy water-skiing wildly across the lake with Aykroyd as Roman maniacally driving the boat. It seems to me that this film seems largely made to make quick money with the two on the marquee rather than offer any amount of endearing entertainment. The supporting cast are largely forgettable, here it is all about the two stars which likely dominated much of the budget. There is an attempt at subplot with Chet's son falling in love with a local with a chip on her shoulder but this is as deep as this film gets.

Disappointing with the occasional funny, though dated, moment.

Rating: “Average, but who wants to be average?”

Review Date: 2020-02-09

Directed by: Howard Deutch

Studio: Hughes Entertainment

Year: 1988

Length: 91 minutes

Genre: Comedy