The Great Outdoors (film)

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The Great Outdoors
The Great Outdoors (film) Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Howard Deutch
Produced by John Hughes
Arne Schmidt
Written by John Hughes
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Ric Waite
Edited by Seth Flaum
William D. Gordean
Tom Rolf
Hughes Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • June 17, 1988 (1988-06-17)
Running time
90 minutes
Language English
Budget $24 million
Box office $43.4 million

The Great Outdoors is a 1988 American comedy film starring Dan Aykroyd and John Candy. Annette Bening (in her film debut) and Stephanie Faracy co-star. Robert Prosky, Lucy Deakins and Lewis Arquette have supporting roles. The film was directed by Howard Deutch and written and produced by John Hughes.


Chicagoan Chester "Chet" Ripley (Candy), his wife, Connie (Faracy), and their two sons, Buckley "Buck" (Young) and Ben (Giatti), are on vacation at a lake resort in Pechoggin, Wisconsin during the summer. All is going as planned until Connie's sister, Kate (Bening), Kate's investment broker husband, Roman Craig (Aykroyd), and their twin daughters, Mara and Cara (Rebecca and Hilary Gordon), crash the vacation.

Ghost stories at the family BBQ include one of a man-eating grizzly bear that Chet met face-to-face when he was younger. Chet says that while he and Connie were honeymooning at the same lake, he was attacked by a giant grizzly bear. When Chet fired at it with a shotgun, the buckshot shaved the hair off the top of the bear's head and from that day on, it was known as the 'Bald-Headed Bear' of Claire County.

After Roman pulls Chet around the lake on an impromptu water ski ride with his rented speedboat Suck My Wake, tensions between families erupt. Chet is ready to pack up and go home, even as teenager Buck tries to romance local girl, Cammie (Deakins). The budding romance goes well until Chet is challenged to eat the Old 96'er (a 96-ounce steak) at a family dinner which causes Buck to break the date. Buck tries to apologize to Cammie for being late, but Cammie refuses to speak to him.

Connie and Kate bond at a local bar when the conversation drifts to Kate's challenges of being wealthy. Later, just at the peak of tension between families, Roman offers Chet a piece of his newest deal culminating in Chet writing a $25,000 check (more than he and Connie have). As the Craigs drive away, Roman abruptly heads back and reveals to everyone (even Kate) that he is broke, having lost everything in a bad investment.

Later, during a thunderstorm, the twins wander off and fall into a mine shaft. Chet and Roman eventually find them, but the claustrophobic Roman is reluctant to descend into the tiny mine shaft. After some encouragement from Chet, Roman summons up all his courage, while Chet goes for rope to pull them out. Upon realizing that the mine is stocked with old dynamite, Roman takes his daughters and climbs out of the shaft on his own.

When Chet returns with the rope, he is horrified to discover the 'Bald-Headed Bear', lurking in the mine. It chases him back to his house, smashes through the door, and rampages through the house. Wally (Prosky), the campsite owner, bursts into the house with a loaded shotgun (lamp) while Roman tries to hold off the animal with a fire poker and an oar. Chet takes the gun and shoots the bear, blowing the fur off its backside and leaving the bear's bottom exposed. Roaring in embarrassment, the bear runs out of the house.

The next morning, the two families part on good terms. Unbeknownst to Chet, Connie has invited the Craigs to stay with them until they can get back on their feet. Cammie and Buck make up and end their summer romance, as Buck and his family head back to Chicago.

In a post-credits scene, a pair of raccoons (two of a pack which had been ransacking the garbage of both Ripley and Craig families throughout the film) discuss the "Bald Headed bear" having been shot in its rear end, with one raccoon confirming that the bear was "bald on both ends now".


Filming locations[edit]

The Great Outdoors was shot on location in Bass Lake, California, a small resort town near Yosemite National Park over three weeks in October 1987.[1]

Ducey's Bass Lake Lodge, a rustic 1940s resort in Bass Lake, was featured as Wally and Juanita’s Perk’s Pine Lodge. The Loon’s Nest vacation cabin, built as a set, was designed to match the style of Ducey’s existing cabins.


The Great Outdoors earned a mixed response from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 40% based on 15 reviews.[2]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times reported that the film did not have enough collective energy to light a campfire in her review.[3] Kevin Thomas of The Los Angeles Times called the film as "a crass, blah comedy about summer vacation perils" and said he was surprised the film got made at all. He described the credits sequence where Aykroyd dances to Wilson Pickett's "Land of a 1,000 Dances" as the only genuine fun and energy in the entire film.[4] "Imagine that it's raining cats and dogs and you're locked in a north woods cabin for weeks with the people you like least, and you'll pretty much have a feel for what it's like to sit through this movie," said Hal Hinson of The Washington Post.[5]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $6,121,115 in its opening weekend and ended up with a North American domestic box office gross of $41,455,230, and a worldwide gross of $43,455,230.[6][7]


  1. ^ JOHN McKINNEY (November 12, 1995). "Wandering Around Bass Lake. Hiking: Southern Sierra Nevada". 
  2. ^ "Great Outdoors". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (1988-06-17). "Movie Review - The Great Outdoors - Review/Film; Country Life For Aykroyd And Candy". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  4. ^ "MOVIE REVIEW : Candy, Aykroyd Wasted in 'Great Outdoors'". Los Angeles Times. 1988-06-17. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  5. ^ "'The Great Outdoors' (PG)". The Washington Post Company. 1988-06-17. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  6. ^ "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : 'Heat,' 'Outdoors' Strong; 'Big' Still Huge". Los Angeles Times. 1988-06-21. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  7. ^ "The Great Outdoors". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 25, 2008. 

External links[edit]