It’s been said of John Candy that for every great, iconic role he encompassed, he would immediately balance out all the goodwill he just earned by starring in a big ol’ clunker/piece of shit movie. This wasn’t by design, but rather, it would seem, simply an inability to say “No.” Why couldn't he say no? Turns out he was too nice. HE WAS TOO NICE!!!
And yet, if you look deep enough into his career, you do see a trend quickly emerge among the roles he chose: that of a babysitter. Onscreen and off, his characters began teaching us important lessons about how to look after each other, as fellow humans, while entertaining adults and kids alike.
“What the hell are you talking about?” you ask.
“God! This thing just started! Can’t you just give me a fucking second to try and explain myself?” I reply.
I force you to agree that’s a good idea.
Look, basically what I’m saying is, John Candy’s movies have shown us how to take care of each other, while he himself was taking care of us. For more often then not, the best you can do when looking after someone is to just ... be around. You know what I'm saying? Look, let’s just get right into it. Here are 9 Roles That Transformed John Candy into America’s Greatest Babysitter.
Buck Russell, Uncle Buck (1989)
With the exception of perhaps Del Griffith in Planes, Trains & Automobiles, this is Candy’s most iconic role. And what’s it about? A man who drops everything in his life to come take care of his brother’s kids when he’s most needed.
Now, sure, maybe he’s unqualified; maybe he doesn’t have his life together; maybe he’s not 100% on board with this whole thing; but when family needs you, you step up. That’s an important lesson for anyone.
And just as quickly as he arrives, we see him become a great uncle to kids he probably should have been a great uncle to all along. He protects them from terrible boyfriends ...
Terrible clowns ...
And terrible mornings without breakfast.
LESSON LEARNED: You're not their parents, so be a friend. Plus, kids love giant pancakes.
John Candy, Camp Candy (1989)
Hmm … Still think John Candy isn’t making a career of looking after people? Well, then maybe you’ve never heard of a little show called Camp Candy, wherein John Candy voices a character named John Candy who runs a summer camp for kids. It’s literally the premise of this piece, boiled down, hardened, broken up, and sprinkled over your Saturday morning breakfast cereal.
Plus, Harry Nilsson wrote the theme song! (That’s a famous person, kids.)
LESSON LEARNED: Let kids be themselves, but with a watchful eye.
Irv Blizter, Cool Runnings (1993)
When Cool Runnings begins, Irv is a disgraced former Olympian living a down-and-out life as a bookie in Jamaica. When a team of inexperienced athletes wants to use Irv’s experience as a coach to help them compete for the upcoming Winter Olympics, he slowly and begrudgingly accepts. Over time, he begins to take his job seriously, and with it comes success, against all odds.
LESSON LEARNED: Just like kids, sometimes you need a push. Plus, try to become good friends with Doug E. Doug.
Gus Polinski, Home Alone (1990)
Man, Candy’s characters always seem to start their character arc in a huge hole. Soon after meeting Gus Polinski, the Polka King of the Midwest, we learn he left his kid in a funeral parlor for goodness' sake. THE WHOLE DAY!
BUT! The kid got over it. Kids are resilient.
LESSON LEARNED: As a babysitter, it’s hard to fuck up. SO DON’T FUCK UP TOO HARD!
Barf, Spaceballs (1987)
What lessons can be learned from this absurdist Star Wars spoof? Well, Candy plays a dog. Dog is man’s best friend. People should be nice. Connect your own dots for once.
LESSON LEARNED: Be a good friend and always be on TV. TV is the best babysitter.
Sesame Street (1988)
Taking a part on Sesame Street is a surefire way to solidify your intentions of being a good person with a watchful eye on children.
See what I’m saying — THIS THEORY IS BULLETPROOF!
LESSON LEARNED: Show don’t tell.
Cliff Murdoch, Rookie of the Year (1993)
As Henry Rowengartner was spending his summer vacation pitching his way to a World Series, Candy’s announcer character was up in the booth, providing words of encouragement and being a second pair of eyes and ears for Henry’s overly concerned mother. Sure, I’m reading a lot into an uncredited role, but shut up, I don’t care. John Candy is just fun to watch.
LESSON LEARNED: Provide encouragement while also getting the kids outside for a little exercise every once in a while.
Chet Ripley, The Great Outdoors (1988)
Fundamentally, when parents leave you in charge of their kids, they expect only a couple things from you: That you make sure they’re still alive when they return and you feed them if they haven’t eaten, which really goes back to the first part. In The Great Outdoors, Candy doesn’t disappoint.
LESSON LEARNED: Always clear your plate.
Lasky, Guard at Walleyworld, Vacation (1983)
Finally, we have Candy’s character from the beloved movie Vacation. Like any good babysitter, he sticks to his guns at first, not wanting to let the family in the closed park, because it was pretty much the only rule the park's "parents" left him with. But where’s the fun in that?
I mean, there’s no harm in letting the kids get into a little trouble, right?
LESSON LEARNED: Let the kids have fun. Just remain calm and make sure no one gets hurt.
AAAAAND ... That does it for this week’s Unnecessary Tribute. Join us next time, when we’ll discuss how NBC’s hit TV series Alf predicted this whole Obamacare thing.
Previously on Unnecessary Tributes: 12 Carefully Selected Moments from Michael Keaton's Career to Remind You He's the Best