Brewster’s Millions (1985)


A minor league baseball player has to spend thirty million dollars in thirty days, in order to inherit three hundred million dollars. However, he’s not allowed to tell anyone about the deal. (IMDb)
You’d think the premise would be ripe for comedic pickin’ but it’s mostly just Brewster exuding stress and hiring people for absurd salaries, and the jokes thrown in on top of that are next to none (Candy’s disappointingly underutilized). Had the potential to say something thoughtful about money, but didn’t bother with that either, instead putting energy towards developing a lifeless romance. Pryor has a certain charismatic presence as the lead but it’s not enough to make an engaging comedy.
5/10 (Poor)


Uncle Buck (1989)


Bachelor and all round slob, Buck, babysits his brother’s rebellious teenage daughter and her cute younger brother and sister. (IMDb)
Candy is good as always, but aside from Buck’s hilariously loud entrance, he proves to be a pretty solid caregiver, enforcing curfew, keeping the creeps away, and always picking up, dropping off, and standing up for the kids. Laudable, but where’s the fun in that? The comedic formula is messed with here, and its replacement (stern dad/rebellious daughter-esque drama) feels uncalled for and kinda lame. Have Buck mature, but leave it until the end! Let’s see him take the kids to the track first.
6/10 (Mediocre)


Stripes (1981)


Two friends who are dissatisfied with their jobs decide to join the army for a bit of fun. (IMDb)
Thanks largely to its tried and true “ragtag team of misfits” trope (gotta love Candy), this has its moments (see the platoon’s unimpressive obstacle course run, unconventional graduation drill routine, conflict with uptight captain), but leads Ramis and Murray’s cocky slacker schtick is annoying more often than funny, and their tangential exploits are the same (their flirtations–not to mention the unbearable mud wrestling scene–reek of misogyny, and the trip to Czechoslovakia was just silly).
5.5/10 (Poor)


Canadian Bacon (1995)


The U.S. President, low in the opinion polls, gets talked into raising his popularity by trying to start a cold war against Canada. (IMDb)
The classic American and Canadian stereotypes are played up to their fullest potential and elicit plenty of chuckles throughout (e.g. the gun auction; enforcement of bilingualism with the truck insults) as they’re laced with sharp American political satire (see the meeting with the Russians; hilarious anti-Canadian propaganda). The plot is unnecessarily layered though (see extra adversary Hacker and his confusing actions with the Hellstorm), coming to a goofy and unsatisfying ironic climax.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Cool Runnings (1993)


When a Jamaican sprinter is disqualified from the Olympic Games, he enlists the help of a dishonored coach to start the first Jamaican Bobsled Team. (IMDb)
The underdog sports movie cliches are definitely there (hello, reluctant coach and training montages), but with a longer than normal journey towards the top and an ending that’s feel-good in an unexpected way, the track remains clear for the charismatic characters (Sanka is the epitome of comic relief) and inspiring story (Junior and Yul’s relationship arc is a touching side-plot) to deliver a bobsled full of belly laughs (see Irv and his introduction to bobsledding) and happy tears throughout.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

The Great Outdoors (1988)


A Chicago man’s hope for a peaceful family vacation in the woods is shattered when the annoying in-laws drop in. (IMDb)
Remarkably unremarkable, with a predictable comedic plot that’s not even done particularly well. The central character dynamic between Candy’s down-to-earth dad and Aykroyd’s obnoxious rich guy lacks a certain zest, and most of the gags are either bland or go on way too long (see the water-skiing slapstick; unbearable bear story). Buck’s pointless and uninteresting romantic side plot does nothing to spice things up, while the final act development for Roman feels a little out of place.
5/10 (Poor)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)


A man must struggle to travel home for Thanksgiving with an obnoxious slob of a shower curtain ring salesman as his only companion. (IMDb)
Martin and Candy are in top form here as a perfectly non-compatible odd couple in a Murphy’s Law plot that’s got plenty of laughs early on (see their first night together), even more as Neal nears his breaking point (see his f-bomb laden car rental rant) and more than I’ve had in a long while when he crosses over to join Del in his happy-go-lucky world (see the uproarious singing-in-burnt car scene and the talking to the cop that followed). Neal’s final thought-train adds a nice touching moment.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

The Griswold family’s cross-country drive to the Walley World theme park proves to be much more arduous than they ever anticipated. (IMDb)
Definitely some laugh-out-loud moments, mostly thanks to Clark Griswold’s manic drive and ridiculous stubbornness, but they are too often separated by awkwardly slow scenes with bad attempts at humour. Poor joke execution aside, the 80s Americana road-trip cinematography is nice, and the film does well at building up the mishap-filled “Murphy’s Law” plot to a fittingly nuts-o climax.
6/10 (Mediocre)