Summer Rental - 6.5/10
Next to planes trains and automobiles, I believe that summer rental is one of John Candy's best movies. Not for the "Hollywood" style crap ending, but for the characters. Candy's ability to play the father figure never really got much attention during his film career. He was mostly the sidekick or a bit player, like in Stripes, Blues Brothers, Little Shop Of Horrors or Nothing But Trouble or even Brewsters Millions. He was also in a lot of movies that played to his connections to SCTV like Armed and Dangerous. This movie plays on his strengths.
Candy plays an air traffic controller that has stressed out to the point of almost causing a plane crash because of a fly. He is given time off to destress and decides to take his family on vacation to Florida where his "stress" type problems continue. From Richard Crenna bumping him out of line in a seafood restaurant; moving in to a rental house but it's really not the house they've rented, so they have to leave in the middle of the night, to finally getting to their destination. It just so happens that the house they're renting is a throughway for all the beach goers and it causes problems because people are randomly walking in to the rental and either drinking the beer, making food or using the bathroom. Funny as it is, it's mostly weak humor. The funny part is when the neighbor Vikki comes over, wearing a bikini and asking Candy if her breasts are nice, as that happens, her husband comes in, Candy, thinking that he's going to get beat up, finds out that the neighbor is upset because she's showing everyone her boobs. It's after this that the movie moves into that Hollywood style of happy ending. Candy gets injured and can't enjoy his vacation with his family, so he starts to hang out at a local bar where he meets Rip Torn, a sort of pirate. From there, Rip teaches Candy how to sail and that becomes his new obsession.
We're also treated to the fact that Richard Crenna's character is at odds with Candy because they are the equivalent of "Leafers" those tourists that head out to New England and cause problems for the locals when the leaves turn green? Same in Florida, the tourists head to the beach and cause problems for the locals. Crenna's character owns the house that Candy and his family are staying in and he wants them gone. He dislikes tourists and he wants to clean up the town. The problem is is that this a convenience of plot. This is what ends up causing a charming film to become weak. Candy challenges Crenna to a race, the regatta. If Candy wins, he gets to stay, if Crenna wins, Candy leaves.
This movie as all about "finding yourself" or "finding your passion" which is great. It's directed by Carl Reiner, one of the all-time comedy greats. But this film loses itself after the third act. Charming as it may be, just like most 80's films like this are, the movie suffers from the typical contrivance that hampers most comedies. It would have been better to have Candy have to deal with Crenna in a different way other than having the owner of the rental die suddenly and Crenna buys the house because he hates tourists. This is one of those movies that the studios made because of Better Off Dead. That movie was a hit and lead to a string of copycat "loser makes good by beating a rich guy in a race to become a winner at life" movies and this is one of them.
Because it has a great cast and is directed by Carl Reiner we get a decent movie and a performance (at least through the first two-thirds of the movie) by John Candy that is one of his best. It's unfortunate that most of John Candy's movies were about the "under-achiever" type person who has a heart of gold. I would have loved to see John Candy in a movie that he had to play a badass or the tough guy.
Summer Rental (1985)
PG-13 | 1h 27min | Comedy, Romance | 9 August 1985 (USA)
Jack Chester, a stressed air-traffic controller, takes his family on a beach vacation to
Florida but is soon beset by problems, especially when an arrogant sailing champion shows up,
who Jack challenges to a race.
Director: Carl Reiner
Writers: Jeremy Stevens, Mark Reisman
Stars: John Candy, Richard Crenna, Rip Torn