The Great Outdoors is one of the few films starring John Candy and Dan Aykroyd from the 1980s. It follows two families on a vacation. One set of relatives is a hardworking family with little resources who want to have a wonderful vacation together, whereas the other family is made up of enormously affluent in-laws who appear to want nothing more than to flaunt their wealth.
The Great Outdoors isn’t everyone’s favorite film, but there’s still a lot to like about it, and here are some interesting facts about it that you might not have known.
20. It was John Hughes and Howard Deutch’s third and final collaboration.
The Great Outdoors featured a legendary 80s team behind the camera as well as two of the greatest comedic sensations of the decade in front of the camera. Howard Deutch directed the picture, which was written and co-produced by the legendary John Hughes.
Hughes had already called the shots on two films written by the 80s teen cinema pioneer: the famous romantic comedy dramas Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful, and Deutch was one of Hughes’ proteges. Hughes’ final collaboration with Deutch was The Great Outdoors; the filmmaker now works primarily in television.
19. It was the one and only occasion that John Candy and Dan Aykroyd shared the lead role.
Aykroyd and Candy, both Canadians, had previously collaborated on the comic series SCTV before breaking into the movies, and had co-starred in 1941 and The Blues Brothers. However, the two guys did not share top billing on a film until The Great Outdoors.
Candy would later feature in Aykroyd’s 1991 directorial debut, Nothing but Trouble, alongside Chevy Chase and Demi Moore. Unfortunately for Aykroyd, this turned out to be a costly fiasco, and he has never directed another film since.
18. It was also Annette Bening’s first cinematic role.
Stephanie Faracy and a then-unknown Annette Bening play their sister spouses, while Aykroyd and Candy play mismatched brothers-in-law. Bening had previously worked in television and theatre, but The Great Outdoors was her first feature film.
Bening would be nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal in The Grifters two years later. Bening has been nominated for the Best Actress Oscar three times since then (for American Beauty, Being Julia, and The Kids Are Alright), as well as starring in blockbusters like Captain Marvel.
17. Big Country was the initial title of the film.
Big Country was John Hughes’ initial title for The Great Outdoors when film was put into production. However, Big, a fantasy comedy drama starring Tom Hanks as a youngster whose yearning for maturity is suddenly realized, was released in 1988.
As a result, there were fears that the title Big Country was too close to that of the other picture, causing confusion among moviegoers (despite the completely different plots of each film). As a result, it was decided to come up with a new title, and The Great Outdoors was chosen.
16. Shortly after shooting, the eatery burnt down.
The movie’s restaurant, Ducey’s Bar and Grill, is famed for being the home of the “Old 96er!” This was a genuine restaurant on the beaches of Bass Lake in California, where The Great Outdoors was filmed, and it wasn’t made up for the movie.
Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the original Ducey’s Bar and Grill not long after sequences from The Great Outdoors were shot there. The restaurant has since been renovated, and it now does a brisk business, due in part to its association with the film; the establishment is crammed with posters and memorabilia from the Great Outdoors.
15. There is no such thing as Lake Potowotominimac.
The Great Outdoors is situated in Wisconsin, surrounding Lake Potowotominimac. However, we hope no fans of the film have ever ventured out across Wisconsin in quest of it, since they’re likely to be disappointed — because no such lake exists in reality.
In reality, no one from the cast and crew of The Great Outdoors has ever visited Wisconsin (whilst working on the film, at least). The main filming location was Bass Lake in California, with the cabin being a set constructed on the Universal Studios backlot.
14. For Dan Aykroyd’s role, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray were considered.
In comparison to the more domineering Aykroyd, John Candy portrays a relative straight man in The Great Outdoors, which was a slight departure for him. This was almost the polar opposite of Candy’s part in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, in which she acted opposite Steve Martin.
Aykroyd’s experience was unique as well, and he wasn’t the first choice to portray Roman. Chevy Chase was initially given the part by John Hughes, but he turned it down due to a schedule conflict. He then approached Bill Murray, who was absent at the time since he was on break from acting.
13. Some of the characters have names that are similar to those of other John Hughes inventions.
It’s been suggested that all of John Hughes’ films belong to the same cinematic world. On the surface, The Great Outdoors does not appear to have much in common with other Hughes-scripted films, however the film does have some similar ground with other Hughes films due to the character names.
Chet is the name of a character played by John Candy, who was also the name of a character played by Bill Paxton in Weird Science. Meanwhile, Chris Young co-stars as Chet’s son, Buck, and Candy would portray a character named Buck in the successful comedy Uncle Buck, written and directed by, you guessed it, John Hughes, the following year.
12. It was only a minor critical and commercial success
With such a talented cast, expectations were high that The Great Outdoors would be a comedic blockbuster on par with John Hughes’ 1987 classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, which also starred John Candy. Unfortunately for everyone concerned, this was not the case.
The Great Outdoors, which cost a projected $24 million to create, only made $43.4 million at the box office. Due to the fact that a picture must earn back double its budget in order to make a profit, it was a bit of a flop. The film received mixed reviews as well, with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 40%.
11. In 2017, a remake featuring Kevin Hart was announced.
The Great Outdoors has shown to have enough enduring popularity to merit a remake, despite not being the biggest blockbuster. In 2017, Studio Universal revealed plans for a new version of the picture, starring Kevin Hart, although little has been heard since then.
Kevin Hart is also set to star with Will Smith in a remake of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, according to reports. This isn’t the only John Hughes/John Candy-related remake Kevin Hart has been linked to.
10. The Great Outdoors, a British magazine, was used as inspiration for the poster.
There was one little snag when the title of the film was changed from Big Country to The Great Outdoors: The Great Outdoors was also the name of a British magazine aimed at hikers and rural fans. Fortunately, the filmmakers were able to gain the title’s rights.
Furthermore, the movie’s promotional materials ended up paying respect to the magazine, with the poster closely resembling the arrangement of the magazine’s standard cover artwork. The Great Outdoors is still in print today, however the artwork has gone through various changes over time.
9. Aykroyd quotes one of his most famous Ghostbusters lines.
Dan Aykroyd is most known for his role in the film Ghostbusters. Aykroyd is most known for his portrayal as Dr. Ray Stantz, which he would reprise in three more films after coming up with the idea and co-writing the script with Harold Ramis in 1984. (if we count his cameo in Casper).
Four years after Ghostbusters, The Great Outdoors was released, and Aykroyd’s portrayal of Roman Craig includes a tribute to Ray Stantz. “We got it, we got it!” Roman joyfully announces after catching a bat that has infiltrated the cabin. These are the exact words that Aykroyd speaks in Ghostbusters when they catch Slimer, the ghost.
8. A real Wisconsin beer is consumed by Candy and Aykroyd.
Despite the fact that the Wisconsin-set comedy The Great Outdoors was shot entirely in California, there are a few little touches that are true to the upper Midwest state. Most importantly, the beer consumed by the protagonists in the film is a genuine Wisconsin beverage.
The beverage in question is Point Special Beer, a popular lager manufactured in Point Stevens, Wisconsin. This beer is sipped in several moments in The Great Outdoors, and it is also promoted on a huge neon sign in a bar scene.
7. The fictional diner ‘Paul Bunyon’s Cupboard’ is based on a real Wisconsin eatery.
Who doesn’t appreciate a friendly eating competition? One of the most famous of these occurs in The Great Outdoors, when Candy’s Chet takes the family to Paul Bunyon’s Cupboard and attempts to devour the ‘Old 96er,’ a massive steak.
Paul Bunyon’s Cook Shanty, a genuine Wisconsin bistro, provided the inspiration for the establishment. This is still a popular tourist site in Wisconsin Dells, however some may be unhappy to find that the 96-ounce steak challenge is no longer available.
6. There’s a scene after the credits.
Since becoming a Marvel mainstay, post-credits scenes have become nearly mandatory in most blockbuster films. It’s easy to forget that such scenes did occasionally appear in earlier films: the John Hughes films, most notably at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, provided some notable examples.
After the end credits, The Great Outdoors (albeit not directed by Hughes) has a closing scene. The raccoons have a subtitled talk about the bald-headed bear, who inform us that the bear’s name is Jody and that she’s now bald on both ends after being shot in the back.
5. The Blues Brothers are referenced.
The Big Outdoors has subtle allusions to Dan Aykroyd’s other great enduring smash, The Blues Brothers, in addition to a sneaky homage back to Ghostbusters (which, lest we forget, also featured John Candy in a minor supporting role). However, you’ll have to keep a careful eye on them if you want to capture them.
If you look closely at the end credits, you’ll see that one of the songs on the soundtrack, Dragboat, is listed as being performed by the Elwood Blues Revue, which was Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers character’s name. The cabin set for ‘Loon’s Nest’ was also erected on the same site as Bob’s Country Bunker in The Blues Brothers.
4. In The Mosquito Coast, Roman’s daughters were also Harrison Ford’s daughters.
The twin children of Dan Aykroyd’s Roman and Anette Bening’s Kate, Mara and Cara, are notable for their complete lack of speaking. In one of their rare cinematic credits, the real-life twin sisters Hilary and Rebecca Gordon played these roles.
The Gordon sisters had already acted in another film, this time as the daughters of a well-known cinematic couple: they played the children of Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, as well as River Phoenix’s younger sisters, in the 1986 thriller The Mosquito Coast. These are the Gordon sisters’ sole big film credits.
3. Chevy Chase passed on the project in order to focus on another country comedy, Funny Farm.
The part of Roman Craig in The Great Outdoors was initially written for Chevy Chase, with whom author John Hughes had previously collaborated on the National Lampoon’s Vacation films. Chase, on the other hand, had to decline since he had already committed to another project, Funny Farm.
Funny Farm, ironically, features a plot that is identical to The Great Outdoors: Chase portrays a city slicker who chooses to try his hand at country living, with humorous results. In June 1988, the two films were released within two weeks of each other at the box office, and neither of them was a great hit.
2. The original trailer contains moments that were cut from the film.
One of many moviegoers’ pet peeves is when the teaser shows bits of sequences that aren’t really featured in the finished product. This turned out to be the case with The Great Outdoors’ initial theatrical trailer.
A sequence in which John Candy’s Chet converses with a mounted moose head in the cabin as if it were an old friend, as well as Dan Aykroyd’s Roman belching and laughing loudly, are among the moments previewed by the teaser. None of these scenes were included in the final cut of the film.
1. Although the film is set in the summer, it was shot in the fall.
The Great Outdoors is a summer film that premiered in theaters in June 1988. However, as is customary with such films, it was shot at a different time of year: during October and November 1987, the cameras rolled for three weeks.
While this didn’t provide too much of a difficulty for the indoor shots, it did pose a challenge for sequences shot in the wide outdoors. Dennis Benda, a professional greensman, was engaged to assist adorn the trees and green spaces to make them look as if they were in the midst of summer.