The Great Outdoors (film)

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The Great Outdoors
The Great Outdoors (film) Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHoward Deutch
Produced byJohn Hughes
Arne Schmidt
Written byJohn Hughes
Music byThomas Newman
CinematographyRic Waite
Edited bySeth Flaum
William D. Gordean
Tom Rolf
Hughes Entertainment
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • June 17, 1988 (1988-06-17)
Running time
90 minutes
Budget$24 million
Box office$43.4 million

The Great Outdoors is a 1988 American comedy film directed by Howard Deutch, and written and produced by John Hughes. It stars Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Stephanie Faracy and Annette Bening in her feature film debut. The film follows two families spending time on vacation in Wisconsin.


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

Ghost stories after 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 (Bart the Bear). When he 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, tensions between the families erupt. Chet is ready to pack up and go home, even as his teenage son Buck tries to romance a local girl, Cammie. 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 their 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, it emerges that Roman has made a bad investment and is broke. He has not told Kate and was planning to hit up Chet for the cash.

Later, during a thunderstorm, the twins wander off and fall into a mine shaft. Chet and Roman 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 in search of a 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, the cabin owner, bursts in with a loaded shotgun 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. Roaring in pain, the bear runs out of the house. The next morning, the two families part on good terms. Unbeknownst to Chet, Connie has invited Roman's family 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 family of raccoons (who rummaged through the trash cans throughout the film) discover the bear sitting in the lake out of embarrassment


Filming locations[edit]

The film 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 on the backlot at Universal Studios,[2] was designed to match the style of Ducey's existing cabins.


The Great Outdoors earned a mixed response from critics.

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 end credits sequence where Aykroyd and Candy dance 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]


A soundtrack for the film was released by Atlantic Records in 1988 and featured many of the songs used in the film.


On April 27, 2017, Universal Pictures has Kevin Hart, Nia Long, Yara Shahidi, China Anne McClain and Shawn Kavanaugh starring in a reboot of the film with Michael De Luca producing.[8]


  1. ^ JOHN McKINNEY (November 12, 1995). "Wandering Around Bass Lake. Hiking: Southern Sierra Nevada".
  2. ^
  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.
  8. ^ "Kevin Hart In Reboot Of 'The Great Outdoors' For Universal, De Luca Productions". Deadline Hollywood. April 27, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2017.

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