John Candy

Uncle-Buck-Scenes

Maybe it’s because the anniversary fell on the weekend, but it’s shocking how few tributes there are to Uncle Buck turning 25. I know, it’s only John Hughes‘s second-highest-grossing movie as a director (out of eight), and only currently (according to Rotten Tomatoes) the ninth best-reviewed of his movies in any creative capacity (out of 31). I understand that it’s a fairly insignificant comedy without a lot of cultural or historical relevance. It’s just Mr. Mom (scripted by Hughes) without the social contexts of the recession and the rise of women in the workforce that makes that movie an important piece of American cinema. It’s a sitcom that didn’t even translate well to television. A saccharine family film that’s actually not that appropriate for children — and that’s after a cut was made to the theatrical version due to parent complaints (the drunk clown scene was apparently more profane). Uncle Buck might suffer for being sort of sandwiched between two more popular movies: Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which may have inspired John Candy‘s role here, and Home Alone, which is said to have been inspired by a scene with Macaulay Culkin in this movie. Yet speaking of Culkin, he’s one of the reasons that Uncle Buck deserves more recognition. While the movie is primarily a vehicle for Candy and his sloven, ignorant and occasionally violent childcare shtick, it’s most notable for its youngest players, namely Culkin and Gaby Hoffmann, who own every scene they’re in, with or without their large co-star. Their performances are mainly limited to reaction shots, […]

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planestrainstruth-1

It’s hard to find a movie for this time of year. I’m not talking about Christmas movies. Lord knows, Hollywood is lousy with Christmas movies. Instead, I’m talking about Thanksgiving movies. Usually Hollywood skips Turkey Day altogether and starts releasing Christmas movies in early November (including relatively recent releases like A Christmas Carol in 2009, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas in 2011, and The Best Man Holiday just this year). Still, there are a few Thanksgiving movies knocking around, and they’re not all as bad as Free Birds. One of the most loveable and endearing Thanksgiving movies is John Hughes’ 1987 comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The film follows businessman Neal Page (Steve Martin) trying to get home to Chicago from New York City two days before Thanksgiving. He stumbles into an unlikely travel buddy in Del Griffith (John Candy) and ends up on a three-day misadventure using almost every known form of ground transportation. As a traveler myself, I know it can be extremely costly as much as it is time consuming, and that got me thinking: How much would a trip like this actually set Neal and Del back?

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One week from today, everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, turns 25 years old. By a certain logic, we should therefore make next Sunday’s Scenes We Love post devoted to the John Hughes classic. But that would make it late for the holiday this Thursday — on or before which many sites will post their obligatory write-up on the wacky road comedy, which stars John Candy and Steve Martin as unfortunate traveling companions on their way home for turkey day. Also an occasion and a beloved film like this deserve the eight days of celebrating. Unlike some other memorable and highly quotable works, this one is not the sort that we could include every single scene as a scene we love. Mostly, we just refuse to feature the famous “those aren’t pillows!” bit, and not just because of the homophobic aspect. It’s just really not that funny. Not that all the scenes below are funny. What we love about PT&A is how even though it’s a comedy it’s quite sad. Sure it kinda ends happily, but just before that warm final greeting there’s something depressing about the story. Hughes was great at making us laugh enough for someone who clearly had a lot of gloomy ideas in his head.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

Hoosiers is one of those films that somehow finds a way to strike a chord with nearly everyone who watches it. There are some movies that are just mainstream right down to their DNA. There’s this, there’s The Shawshank Redemption, maybe a Forrest Gump; they get mentioned as people’s favorite movies with far greater frequency than anything else. And I’m not talking about cinema buffs when I say people, I’m talking about your grandma, the guy who works on your car, the grandma that works on your car. You know, regular people.  Since it contains one of the big starring roles of Gene Hackman’s career and it was directed by David Anspaugh, who repeated his success at telling an Indiana sports tale with Rudy, that should probably come as no surprise. Disney is maybe the most mainstream production company in the movie business. From the very beginning they’ve focused on creating wholesome entertainment that the whole family can enjoy together.  In the early 90s one of those attempts at making movies for the whole family was Cool Runnings, a John Candy starring bobsled movie that most people might describe as a “guilty pleasure.” It gets lumped in with other 90s sports movies that Disney made like The Mighty Ducks and Air Bud, movies that you can look back at with nostalgia, but if you were to watch them today would look about as ridiculous as a team of Jamaicans showing up to the Winter Olympics with a bobsled.

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As you may have discovered last week with my write-up of Miracle, I’ve got a thing for great Olympic stories. In my mind, there are few greater stories in sport than those that surround the Olypmics. And while there aren’t as many great stories associated with the winter games as there are the summer games, there are at least two. Miracle tells one, Cool Runnings tells the other.

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Heath Ledger first stole our hearts in 1999 with his role as Patrick Verona in director Gil Junger’s Ten Things I Hate About You.

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