Since 1989 I’ve been a big fan of John Candy. The movie that came out that year was Uncle Buck. I was seven, about the same age as the character Miles, portrayed by Macaulay Culkin, and I often thought about some long lost uncle sweeping into town and making me gigantic pancakes for my birthday.
Since then I’ve grown to really love John Candy like an uncle. It’s not just his character of Uncle Buck, who still makes me laugh to this day with a congenial combination of slapstick, silly, and smart, but the way that he can do nothing and it’s hilarious. Just a simple line of “Sure” was somehow hysterical. I’ve not come across many actors that can say or do nothing on screen and still get a laugh.
I grew up with actors like Jim Carrey and Chris Farley being beamed into my home regularly. I watched both In Living Color and Saturday Night Live, their energy and slapstick style was something that I had never seen before. They made me laugh until I cried on plenty of occasions. Then the next school day, my friends and I would discuss the craziness of their portrayals and laugh all over again.
We never talked about John Candy. But even then he was still my go to. If I was home sick from school, I wanted John to be there, as Uncle Buck or Chet Ripley, or whatever other movies of his we could rent at the grocery store.
He was real. A real life person who could show up at your house and punch a clown in the face. He wasn’t over acting to get a laugh, he just was a guy who happened to be really funny and could put on a serious face when the role needed him to. It wasn’t magic or explosions or a hard bodied beauty, just a regular guy who chose to be an actor because he had something different about him, even if you could never actually pinpoint what that was.
Movies are much different today and to be honest I don’t watch them. I see one or two movies a year, and it’s usually the ones that won a ton of awards or enough people told me I should watch it that I eventually do. They are very rarely, if ever, comedies. They are rarely heartwarming. For the most part they are serious movies that are almost difficult to watch. I like art, but I also like to be cozy.
Most movies today don’t have the greatest acting, but are rather vehicles for beautiful people to do magical things. The plots are basic, the melodrama heavy. They are meant for a world wide audience. They are moving investments, the art stripped away to make something that won’t be difficult to understand with subtitles. The money is heaped high for special effects and the latest starlet with a curvy body. The John Candy’s are few and far inbetween.
A few years ago it was a slow day at work and a bunch of us were standing around before punching out shooting the breeze about movies. The topic of your favorite actor came up and it was my turn to say who it was. I said John Candy. Everyone laughed at the same time. They told me that I couldn’t pick him as my favorite actor. That I had to choose someone else. I protested immediately. I said “Here’s the thing. I said his name and you all laughed, right? That’s it. He’s still making you laugh.”
That is the genius of John Candy.