October 31st is best known as Halloween but it was also the birthday of one of the unsung heroes of comedy. John Candy passed away at the age of only 43 and without a doubt it was too soon.
For anyone who’s not in the mood to get spooky and scary this season, or is just in the mood for some laughs and feel good factor after the day passes, here are some guaranteed to make you smile, even if they are cheesy, John Candy movies (Note: We’ve excluded films like Stripes, which is technically a Bill Murray movie, and Splash, which is really a Tom Hanks movie, in this list).
1. Uncle Buck
Directed and written by John Hughes, Uncle Buck went somewhat under the radar as Hughes is best-known for The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day and Home Alone. Like the latter, Uncle Buck stars Macaulay Culkin. He is one of three kids who the titular character has to mind while their parents are away.
It’s refreshingly smart, timeless, and will genuinely make you laugh out loud:
2. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
A lot of John Candy’s movies were ‘buddy films’ and Planes, Trains & Automobiles would be of the same calibre. Steve Martin stars in the film as a high-strung marketing executive while Candy plays an enthusiastic but awkward shower curtain ring salesman.
It’s become a Thanksgiving classic in the States but universally it’s an occasionally silly but surprisingly emotive movie:
Best-known for his work with another great deceased comedian, Gene Wilder, on Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks wrote and directed this Star Wars parody. John Candy stars as Barf (a parody of Chewbacca), who is Lone Starr’s (you can guess which Star Wars character that’s meant to be) faithful ‘Mog’ – half-man, half-dog.
Brooks, Bill Pullman, Rick Moranis and Joan Rivers are just some members of its ace cast. Whether you’ve never seen it or are returning to it after a long time, Spaceballs still works and deserves more recognition:
4. Cool Runnings
Disney recently surprised us with Queen of Katwe, which harks back to films like Cool Runnings when the studio found engaging stories from international backdrops. One of Candy’s later films, Cool Runnings sees a group of Jamaican runners who fail to qualify to compete in the Olympic Games’s sprinting category create the first Jamaican Olympian Bobsled Team. Candy plays the coach they enlist.
With the popularity around Bolt now, a story like this seems refreshed and its cast members are infectiously joyful in every scene:
5. The Blues Brothers
Ok, so we’re cheating a bit here, because obviously John Candy has a very small role in this film. However, his turn as Burton Mercer, who is leading the police in pursuit of Jake and Elwood Blues, is a classic.
The Blues Brothers is full to the brim with great comedic and musical performances so if there were ever a feel good flick to finish off a list, it would have to be this one: