It’s been 26 years since John Candy died way too young at the age of 43 years, but his comedy and work in the movies hasn’t lost any power with age.
He was effortlessly funny on screen. The way he spun a couple lines into a laugh-out-loud moment in a theater was signature. You’d quote him after the movie and at Thanksgiving. While others strained hard to make you laugh, Candy made it look so easy and fun.
But deep down, it was anything but easy for him. He struggled with his weight constantly throughout his career, making the extra efforts to bring exercise equipment to the set in order to get more fit while tuned into the work. He couldn’t beat the weight, dying of a heart attack. I remember hearing about it and going into shock.
What would the comedy world do without him?
Who would take his place?
The truth is no one takes the spot of a master in the world of make believe. That’s due to the limitless appeal of revisiting films from the past.The work lives on. Thanks to YouTube and Blu Ray discs, you can slip “Uncle Buck” or “The Great Outdoors” into the player and go right back to that spot of cracking up inside the theater. Movies are truly forever, and Candy is a testament to that.
While he was good in roles both small (“Home Alone”) and large (“Spaceballs”), Candy’s best work came during one scene. It was a pivotal moment in “Planes, Trains, and Automobibles” that changed the way I look at that film. Steve Martin and Candy had chemistry for days, but the fun and games aspect was ditched late in the film when Martin’s character belittles Candy’s eternal optimist for all his little traits and sayings. This is where Candy’s Del Griffith fires back something that absolutely shatters Martin’s Neal Page. Check it out for yourself:
Try and tell me you didn’t feel something while watching that sequence play out. Pushed against the wall emotionally and torn to shreds by someone he’s trying to help, Candy’s words pierced through the screen. He wasn’t just speaking for that character, but so many exuberant Del types across the real world. The people who try to bring cheer and love to the world and are slammed for it. The cynical Neals of the world far outnumber the lovely Dels, but this scene gives you hope things could change.