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The Great Outdoors
Directed by Howard Deutch
Produced by John Hughes
Arne Schmidt
Written by John Hughes
Starring Dan Aykroyd
John Candy
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Ric Waite
Editing by Seth Flaum
William D. Gordean
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date(s) United States June 17, 1988
Running time 91 min
Language English

The Great Outdoors is a 1988 comedy film starring Dan Aykroyd and John Candy. Annette Bening and Stephanie Faracy co-star. Robert Prosky and Lewis Arquette have supporting roles. The film was directed by Howard Deutch and was written by John Hughes.

Contents

Plot

Chicago resident Chester "Chet" Ripley (John Candy), his wife Connie (Stephanie Faracy), and their two sons Buck (Chris Young) and Ben (Ian Giatti) are on vacation at a lake resort in Pechoggin, Wisconsin.

Then the unexpected happens—Connie's sister Kate (Annette Bening), Kate's know-it-all investment broker husband Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd), and Kate and Roman's twin daughters Mara (Rebecca Gordon) and Cara (Hilary Gordon) crash the vacation, having decided to blow off their own plans to vacation in Europe.

Roman is a typical Mercedes driving, '80s yuppie, and he and Kate live in the posh Chicago suburb of Oak Park. Roman seems to take pleasure in making sure others are well aware of his wealth and (supposed) expertise on many subjects.

Roman proceeds to majorly get on Chet's nerves—so much that Chet is ready and willing to pack up and go home, even as teenager Buck tries to romance local girl Cammie (Lucy Deakins).

It turns out that the reason why Roman, Kate, and the twins crashed the vacation is because the Craigs are broke because of a bad investment, and Roman was planning to hit Chet up for $25,000.

During this, a large thunderstorm hits and the twins go missing. Chet and Roman search for them and Roman finds them in a deep den. Chet goes to get a rope to help them out, but while he is gone, Roman and the twins climb out. Chet drops the rope down the den (not knowing they are out) and pulls out a bear (the bald headed grizzly, a large bear which Chet was attacked by many years ago that has a bald head) and it chases Chet to the house. Once Chet enters the house, he meets Roman the twins and his family, waiting for him. The bear smashes through the door (knocking Chet over and briefly trapping him under the door) and rampages though the house. Chet is dazed from his ordeal as Roman attempts to fight off the bear. Eventually, the cabin owner shows up and shoots the bear with a shotgun lamp, shown earlier in the film. The bear runs out of the cabin and everyone is left unharmed. The film ends with a scene that takes place the following morning as the two families part ways on good terms.

Filming locations

The Great Outdoors was shot on location in Bass Lake, California, a small resort town near Yosemite National Park over three weeks in October 1987.

Ducey's Bass Lake Lodge, a rustic 1940s resort in Bass Lake, was featured as Wally and Juanita’s Perk’s Pine Lodge. The Loon’s Nest vacation cabin, built as a set, was designed to match the style of Ducey’s existing cabins.

Reception

The film grossed $6,121,115 in its opening weekend and ended up with a domestic gross of $41,455,230, and a worldwide gross of $43,455,230.[1]

Notable scenes

The film contains a number of infamous scenes, such as:

  • Raccoons raiding garbage bins and speaking to each other, revealed by subtitling.
  • A grizzly bear who terrorized Chet and Connie on their honeymoon, prompting Chet to skin the fur off its scalp with a shotgun (dubbing it the "Bald-Headed Bear").
  • Chet polishing off the "Ole 96er", a 96-ounce prime age beef steak (including fat and gristle) at a local restaurant in an effort to impress Roman and earn everyone dining a free meal.
  • The families' visit with a 109-year-old man at his 110th birthday celebration; Chet is informed at the party that the man died in the car ride en route to the location yet was brought regardless.
  • Two black bears sitting on the hood and roof of chet's Jeep Grand Wagoneer even when he drives away
  • Roman and Chet's attempts to rid the cabin of a bat. A similar scene involving a bat trapped in a cabin was used in the 1996 film Black Sheep, with David Spade and Chris Farley.
  • The Craigs' odd twin daughters getting trapped in an abandoned flooded mine shaft containing boxes of dynamite and the aforementioned "Bald-Headed Bear".
  • A loaded "shotgun lamp" used as a decoration.

Trivia

  • The Great Outdoors was originally titled Big Country. The name was changed to avoid audience confusion with other similarly titled 1988 films, notably Big.
  • The film marked Annette Bening's first major motion picture appearance.
  • The film is set in the fictitious "Claire County", presumably somewhere in Wisconsin or Michigan. At one point, a police officer asks Candy's character if he possesses a Wisconsin drivers license, thereby suggesting that Claire County is in that state. Another sign the movie takes place in Wisconsin is a sign in the local bar advertising Point Beer and Leinenkugel's Beer, both popular beers brewed in the state. Candy and Aykroyd's characters are seen drinking the same brand of beer later on in the film. Finally, Roman mentions, while horseback riding, "[to] watch out for those Wisconsin rattlers."
  • This is one of eight films that featured both Dan Aykroyd and John Candy. The others are 1941, The Blues Brothers, Nothing but Trouble, It Came From Hollywood, Canadian Bacon, Masters of Menace, She's Having a Baby.
  • Aykroyd's character was named after Roman Stevens, a cocky young pilot that used to fly the cast of SNL around the Northeast.
  • Bart the Bear, a 1,700 pound Alaskan Kodiak brown bear, played the bald bear.
  • The "bald" spots on the bear were created with artificial prostheses, not by shaving the bear.
  • The Loon’s Nest set was built on the same lakeside site used for the “Back of the Moon” cabin in the 1945 film Leave Her to Heaven. Both sets were built on temporary United States Forest Service permits and were removed promptly after shooting.
  • A duplicate Loon’s Nest set was built on the Universal Studios Hollywood back lot for the bear attack sequence. The set has been reused in other films and can be seen from a distance on the Universal Studios Hollywood back lot tour.
  • Ducey’s Lodge was destroyed by fire in June 1988. It was rebuilt one mile from the original location and reopened in April 1991.
  • Aykroyd was also featured on The Great Outdoors Soundtrack. He reprised his role as Elwood Blues performing with Wilson Pickett as The Elwood Blues Revue. Aykroyd is featured on the songs Land of a Thousand Dances and Dragboat.

References

  1. ^ The Great Outdoors, boxofficemojo.com, accessed May 25, 2008.

External links

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