Summer Rental

In our family of my youth, The Great Outdoors just seemed to be the preferred comedy featuring Candy and his family’s disastrous summer vacation. I am not sure why Summer Rental wasn’t always on during our late 80s/early 90s summers instead but for whatever reason it wasn’t. Oh, I personally watched it a few times and always enjoyed it as a kid but I reckon a bear shot in the ass by a gun made into a lamp as it squeals off in the other direction bare without fur was a family staple. That damn subplot with Young and Deakins’ “young love” alone disqualifies it from competing with Summer Rental for my top honors. I was really hoping to do that this year--get in a bunch of summer movies--having already been on vacation with my own family earlier than usual. Jaws will always find its way into the summer eventually, but I was thoroughly glad to revisit Summer Rental. I like how it encapsulates the summer experience with the traffic of vacationers (and those damned renters as Crenna refers to Candy, his brood, and others similarly coming to the area during the middle part of the year), the results of not using sun tan lotion, rampant beach activity, and the woes of the vacation experience. The wrong (but very nice) property Candy mistakes for being their rental home for the next four weeks, instead relocating to a dump with bad plumbing and not-so-private beach, including next door neighbors such as a parade of lifeguards (with jock straps hanging on a clothesline to dry!) and a lady insecure about her “new boobs” (she gets opinions from multiple folks much to the chagrin of her hubby who gave up an expensive power tool for them!). Waiting in line for lobster, losing his place to a snobbish, obtuse prick yachtsman (played to the hilt by Richard Crenna) allowed to go ahead of him due to his status in town, Candy isn’t so keen to forego the loss of what he and his family had been tarrying long for; this meeting between Candy and Crenna stirs the finale, which is a competitive sailboat race setup by their tense, embittered encounter. If I were to necessarily balk about anything it is just how thin John Larroquette’s part is in the film. He’s briefly presented in town with his son to show Candy’s family a good time while he recovers from a bum leg caused by Crenna, crashing boat into boat when neither would move out of the way, believing each had the right of way. I couldn’t help but wonder if Larroquette had more to do and it was written or edited out. But after that initial appearance, Karen Austin (Candy’s wife) just speaks about him when scooting off with the kids to go places an “injured” Candy can’t due to his leg. Crutches slow Candy down…until the owner of the property dies and Crenna gets it in a will, telling Candy to get off in four days. Challenge of rent is bartered in another tense exchange, Candy and Crenna will go at it with other sailboaters at a “renata”, and the film’s finale features the “big race” (which has Candy’s air traffic controller experience—and pants!—actually serving well in the race). Rip Torn, yarring away as a beachfront boat “restaurateur” allows Candy to use his “The Barnacle” in the race, the two budding pals over the vacation’s interim. The whole family gets involved when Candy is told to move off the property, all inspired (along with Torn’s “Swede” shipman (played by an inspired Richard Herd, often speaking in gibberish when telling Torn what needs to be done to the boat in order for it to be “sea ready”) and mates) to get the boat in the shape it needs in order just to sail much less compete with Crenna. The results are predictable, but the mishaps Candy endures make up the better parts of the film, I think. His sunburns, walking among beach loungers as if trying to dodge landmines, anxiety as his teenage daughter (Kerri Green of The Goonies and Lucas) chats with a stud lifeguard, the aforementioned downgrade between properties (and private beach to public beach) when the family must move, already mentioned lobster restaurant disappointment, bombardment of beach folks just making themselves home in his rental property, his dog’s inability to care about trespassers, getting locked out of the rental property by his dog, and the hurt leg due to the sailboat crash with Crenna all assure that Candy’s not leaving Florida anything but worse for wear. These mishaps, though, are more realistic than The Great Outdoors (Candy has to share honors with Dan Aykroid in this film while Summer Rental is his complete vehicle to drive without anyone riding shotgun), and Candy has a more complete character in Summer Rental. I wasn’t expecting to do such comparison shopping, but I digress… Can't forget to mention that Joey Lawrence was his son in Summer Rental and Austin looks mighty fine in a bikini, celebrating the onlooking of lifeguards with her daughter, Green.

I’d love to get a hold of a copy of One Crazy Summer as a follow-up to this as it holds some good memories around the same period of time as Summer Rental. The beach town setting and the 80s as a pair has always appealed to me. But without the characters and charm, these films would be less ideal. Candy’s a beloved figure in those of my youth. My family and friends just loved him. But for whatever reason Summer Rental just never received the same level of commitment as Uncle Buck, The Great Outdoors, Who’s Harry Crumb?, Armed and Dangerous, and Spaceballs, which does astound me after rewatching it today. I’d have thought Summer Rental would have been on rotation aplenty, but that simply was never the case. I like it when films are over and I have this warm feeling in my heart that reaffirms just exactly why a certain film of the past was such a pleasure. Candy, of course, could somehow escape even the worst of material somewhat intact just because he was so gifted. God, I just wish he wasn’t taken so soon.