Candy Land: Halloween Baby John Candy’s Remarkable Career
How apropos that a man whose last name is “Candy” would have an October 31st birthday?
The world lost this legendary funny man far too early in life. While John Candy passed away 20 years ago in March, his footprint on American film is still highly memorialized with performances opposite the likes Bill Murray, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd and the late John Belushi, Richard Pryor and Harold Ramis.
Much like the late Chris Farley, Candy’s physical appearance conjoined those familiar associates of sensitivity, overcompensation and distress into his characters. These traits always brought a sense of vulnerability to his work but also a very genuine “everyman” quality that is completely relatable and endearing to the audience. We loved that about Mr. Candy. He was often times the underdog who came out a winner.
Here’s a look back at John Candy doing a lot of winning…
Our first true taste of Candy via the big screen was in The Blues Brothers where he oversaw the command of state troopers tracking down Belushi and Akroyd. Whenever we think of the popular, frothy beverage “Orange Whip,” we always settle on Candy’s drink order in the film.
In Stripes, Candy’s loveable, innocent, weight-loss intent Dewey “Ox” Oxberger brought the perfect dose of charm, purity and ignorance to a cast of machismo and heavy sarcasm. His plan of coming out of training as a “lean, mean, fightin’ machine” won the popular vote among his unit.
Even in a smaller role like his part in National Lampoon’s Vacation, Candy delivers one of the film’s memorable lines while his appearance towards the end of the movie was more than a pleasant surprise.
The battery mate to Richard Pryor on the field and his partner-in-crime off of it in Brewster’s Millions.
Candy’s wayward navigation on a crowded beach with a leaky cooler and lots of blind spots is classic Candy disrupting everything that crosses his path. Summer Rental will make you feel better about some of your failed family vacations after watching what the Chester family goes through with renting a beach house.
Candy’s role as the bane of Steve Martin’s existence in their respective attempts to get home for Thanksgiving created a fabulous holiday comedy that hit the funny bone and tugged at the heart. Planes, Trains & Automobiles turned in a thoughtful examination of camaraderie, friendship, family and kindness while mastering Candy’s comedic button-pushing with Martin’s masterful reactions. One of the scene stealers of all-time is the fact that, “Those aren’t pillows!”
Uncle Buck is our personal favorite of Candy’s work. His character, Buck Russell, has shades of Planes’ Del Griffith with the obnoxious and annoying coupled with a strong yearning to be accepted and a man with a big heart. Once complete, the film conveys a powerful message about the importance of family while also infusing a genuine laugh in nearly every scene including Candy’s blatant suggestion to his niece’s school principal about some much needed skincare.
It says something about an individual when they’re so fondly remembered twenty years after their passing. To us, it’s no coincidence that some of the funniest movies ever made include this one-of-a-kind talent whose sweet soul and infectious laugh will always make us smile and wish we had more Candy.