10 Things You Never Knew About The Great Outdoors
One of the few collaborations of 80s comedy legends John Candy and Dan Aykroyd, The Great Outdoors follows two families as they go on vacation. One set of relations is a hard-working family with very little money who want to share a special break together, whilst the other family are the extremely wealthy in-laws who seem to want nothing other than to show off their riches.
The Great Outdoors isn’t necessarily the best-loved film of anyone involved, but there’s still a lot to be said in its favour, and here are some facts about the film which you might not have known.
10. It was the third and final collaboration of John Hughes and Howard Deutch
As well as boasting two superstars in front of the camera, The Great Outdoors featured an iconic 80s duo behind the camera as well. It was written and co-produced by the prolific John Hughes, with Howard Deutch directing.
Deutch had previously called the shots on two Hughes-scripted films: the classic teen romantic comedy dramas Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful. The Great Outdoors proved to be their last collaboration.
9. It was the only time John Candy and Dan Aykroyd shared top billing
Both hailing from Canada, Aykroyd and Candy had worked together on comedy series SCTV before breaking into the movies, and had co-starred in 1941 and The Blues Brothers. However, it wasn’t until The Great Outdoors that the two men shared top billing on a movie.
Later, Aykroyd would enlist Candy (along with Chevy Chase and Demi Moore) to star in his 1991 directorial debut Nothing but Trouble, which proved to be an expensive flop.
8. It gave Annette Bening her first film role
Aykroyd and Candy play mismatched brothers-in-law, whilst their sister wives are portrayed by Stephanie Faracy and a then-unknown Annette Bening. The Great Outdoors was in fact Bening’s very first movie, the actress having previously worked in television and theatre.
Two years later, Bening would be Oscar-nominated for her performance in The Grifters. She has since been a nominee at the prestigious awards show a further three times, and has appeared in numerous hits including American Beauty and Captain Marvel.
7. It was originally entitled Big Country
When The Great Outdoors went into production, it was under Hughes’ original title Big Country. However, as 1988 also saw the release of comedy drama Big, the filmmakers decided it would be best to change the title to avoid any confusion.
As a result of this, they decided on using The Great Outdoors as the title instead.
6. The restaurant burned down soon after filming
The restaurant seen in the film is called Ducey’s Bar and Grill, and it was famously home to the “Old 96er!” This was a real restaurant which sadly burned down not long after The Great Outdoors was shot there.
Ducey’s Bar and Grill has since been rebuilt, and celebrates its use in The Great Outdoors with posters and memorabilia from the movie.
5. Lake Potowotominimac doesn’t actually exist
The Great Outdoors is set around Lake Potowotominimac in Wisconsin. However, should you ever go looking for it you’ll end up disappointed, as no such lake actually exists.
Nor did the production ever touch down in Wisconsin. The actual location used in the movie was Bass Lake in California, whilst the cabin was a set built on the Universal Studios backlot.
4. Chevy Chase and Bill Murray were considered for Dan Aykroyd’s role
The Great Outdoors is a little different for John Candy, as he plays a comparative straight man role to the more overbearing Aykroyd; completely the opposite of the role he played in Planes, Trains and Automobiles opposite Steve Martin.
Aykroyd wasn’t the first choice to play Roman. John Hughes first offered the role to Chevy Chase, who declined due to a scheduling clash. Next he approached Bill Murray, who passed as he was taking a break from acting.
3. Some characters share names with other John Hughes creations
One thing that indirectly links The Great Outdoors with other John Hughes-scripted films are the character names. John Candy plays a man named Chet, which was also the name of Bill Paxton’s character in Weird Science.
Meanwhile, Chris Young co-stars as Chet’s son, Buck; and the following year, Candy himself would play a character with that name in the hit comedy Uncle Buck.
2. It was only a minor critical and commercial success
Given the wealth of talent involved, hopes were high that The Great Outdoors would prove to be a comedy smash on a par with John Hughes’ 1987 hit Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which also starred John Candy.
This was not to be. The Great Outdoors was only a modest box office hit, earning $43.4 million, and attracting a middling response from critics (it has a 40% score at Rotten Tomatoes).
1. A remake starring Kevin Hart was announced in 2017
Although it wasn’t the biggest hit, The Great Outdoors has proved to have enough enduring popularity to warrant a remake. Studio Universal announced plans for a new take on the film in 2017 with Kevin Hart pegged to star, although little has been heard on the matter since.
Curiously, this isn’t the only John Hughes/John Candy-related remake that Kevin Hart has been linked to: it’s also been reported that he will appear alongside Will Smith in a remake of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.