The Great Outdoors Movie Review

The Great Outdoors Movie Review

Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by John Hughes
Release Date: 17 June 1988
Running Time: 91 minutes
Editor’s Rating: 3.5 Bare-assed bears out of 4

Ah, the Great Outdoors. As a Michigan native, I’m about an hour away in any direction from a lovely green campground or state park set on a little lake (inland) or a big one (we’ve got like five of ‘em or something). So as I sat down to watch this little gem, one I had never seen before a few weeks ago, I really felt a kinship to Chet Ripley (John Candy) and family’s trip to the woods for a really nice summer vacation. Seeing his family’s cabin and the idyllic lake setting, it was like heading back into my childhood. However, as the movie developed, it became decidedly less identifiable.

So Chet and the Ripleys are up there doing their thing, and who should come along but Chet’s worst enemy: his brother-in-law, Roman. Where Chet’s looking to get back to nature in a simple, almost pastoral way, so he can spend some nice, quality time with his famiily. Roman and his family, on the other hand, are into “glamping” back before there was such a word. Chet’s simple grillin’ hot dogs get trumped for lobster tails. A walk in the woods gets one-upped for a chaotic ride across the lake on a souped-up speedboat. As the two patriarchs commence a whizzing contest, the true victim becomes the relaxing vacation both families want to have.

So this is a John Hughes movie, and it’s pretty evident if I hadn’t seen the credits. Candy’s character is a Chicago native, just like Roman (who’s also kinda got the accent to boot), small towns are getting parodied, and there are creepy kids and kids being put in perilous situations. Now that’s not to say is that it’s a detriment. The film always keeps itself funny and moving forward, only really slowing down to develop a little relationship between one of the Ripleys and a local girl.

While the movie might have a definite 80s feel to it, it’s still a great little flick to sit down and enjoy with the family. It’s goofy and lighthearted even when it’s trying to be serious, and there’s a bunch of talented people making it happen, even the people who aren’t people. What I’m saying is there are raccoons. Really awesome raccoons. And a bald bear. Curious? You’ll just have to check it out for yourself.

**I watched this movie on cable. I was not compensated for this review.**

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