Top 10 John Candy Films

Larger-than-life actor John Candy was one of the stars of the 1980s Hollywood comedy film circuit. His legacy is a body of work varying in quality but never in enthusiasm.

John Candy, much like John Belushi and Chris Farley, was a larger-than-life comic actor who brought joy to the lives of millions through great films and television work. Similarly, like Belushi and Farley, he died far too young.

Candy grew to prominence during the early 1980s as part of Canada’s Toronto-based comedy-variety show Second City Television before getting a small role in Steven Spielberg’s 1941. He followed this with small roles in The Blues Brothers, Stripes and National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Despite missing out on Ghostbusters (he was originally considered for the part Rick Moranis went on to play), Candy enjoyed the commercial height of his film career during the middle and late 1980s with a string of films, many of which in supporting roles, such as Splash and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

By the 1990s his career was in decline. He took more dramatic roles in Only the Lonely and JFK before releasing one of his finest films Cool Runnings in 1993 to buck the trend of commercial and critical disappointment.

10. National Lampoon’s Vacation (Ramis, 1983)

Only a bit-part for the rotund actor but he’s great as the bumbling security guard who gets taken for a ride – literally – but hapless family-man Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase)

9. Splash (Howard, 1984)

Splash features another small part for Candy. Here, he plays opposite a young Tom Hanks who falls in love with a mermaid.

8. Delirious (Mankiewicz, 1990)

One of Candy’s few leading roles, Delirious was released during his late career decline. This fantasy-drama sees the actor playing a screenwriter who finds himself inside his own soap opera with the ability to write his own destiny.

7. Armed and Dangerous (Lester, 1986)

Like many of his films, Candy opposite a co-lead actor. Here the co-star is Eugene Levy. The two play security guards who get mixed up in a criminal conspiracy and set out to bring the culprits to justice.

6. The Great Outdoors (Deutch, 1988)

Another co-starring role, this time alongside Dan Aykroyd, sees the two spend some quality time together with their families on holiday. Of course, nothing goes to plan.

5. Brewster’s Millions (Hill, 1985)

John Candy stars alongside Richard Pryor in this comedy about having too much money and not knowing how to spend it.

4. Summer Rental (Reiner, 1985)

Candy gets to lead the cast all on his own in this sweet family comedy about summer vacation and not letting the bullies get their way.

3. Cool Runnings (Turteltaub, 1993)

One of Candy’s last films sees the larger-than-life actor coach the Jamaican bobsleigh team in this true story about defying the odds.

2. Uncle Buck (Hughes, 1989)

John Candy gets one of his best roles as the over-eager Uncle Buck who is tasked with looking after his sister’s children after mum and dad are called out of town following a family emergency.

1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Hughes, 1987)

Undoubtedly John Candy’s best film is also one of the best films in the careers of co-star Steve Martin and writer-director John Hughes. This road-trip-buddy-movie is a superb mixture of fish-out-of-water comedy and bittersweet drama built on the emerging friendship of an advertising executive and a self-employed shower curtain ring salesman.

Written and compiled by Daniel Stephens.

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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    Steven Flores Reply

    My favorite John Candy Films.

    1. Uncle Buck
    2. Stripes
    3. Planes, Trains, & Automobile
    4. National Lampoon’s Vacation
    5. Cool Runnings
    6. Splash
    7. Armed and Dangerous
    8. Rookie of the Year
    9. Only the Lonely
    10. Delirious

    He is truly missed.

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    mark Reply

    I think a mention of restaurant critic Johnny LaRue on SCT deserves a mention … the sketch where some mafiosos redo the Pacino-Hayden-Lettieri murder scene in the background is hilarious …

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    Evan Crean Reply

    A solid list of course. My personal favorites on it are “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” “Uncle Buck,” and “Stripes.” Though I wish you had included “Who is Harry Crumb?” or “Canadian Bacon.”

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    Pete Reply

    Terrible how many of these I haven’t seen! Uncle Buck was probably always my favourite. I also remember him fondly in his short role in Home Alone.

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    DEZMOND Reply

    I think that I preferred Richard Prior and Gene Wilder back in those days. Candy was nice, but never had any big role or film to remember.

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    Rodney Reply

    Thoroughly agree with #1 and #2, Dan. Great list!!

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    Scott Lawlor Reply

    Ah man, I miss the big man. He was aces!!

    Great list matey

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    Jaina Reply

    And yesterday i was watching Uncle Buck. Definitely one of my favourites, don’t disagree with #1, #2 and #3. Definitely my all time favourites from him.

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    S Reply

    Enjoyed the top 10; it’s a great list for a tremendous talent.
    Agree wholeheartedly with #s 1-6.
    Candy is Uncle Buck. 🙂

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    Colin Biggs Reply

    I miss John Candy a great deal. There’s no one quite like him anymore.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Another great list. But you have to have Dewey Oxberger in there (Stripes)

    Top 5 for me:

    1) Planes Trains
    2) Stripes
    3) Great Outdoors
    4) Uncle Buck
    5) Brewsters Millions

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    Dan Grant Reply

    And one more thing.

    This is weird, but the day I found out Candy died, I just finished my first year of university at Carleton in Ottawa. I was on my way home (back to London Ontario…lol) with my dad and roommate and we were talking about all the laughs Candy had given us over the years. I was 20 or 21 at the time and for the first and only time I cried, just a little, but I shed a tear. The man was a comic genius and maybe being Canadian had something to do with it, I’m not sure. But besides being an iconic actor, he, along with Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall, owned the professional football team in Toronto (CFL). He was always at the games and very accessible to the public. He was a special talent and I still miss him to this day.

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    Tim Reply

    Does anyone know how to get a copy of the 1980 “Road Show” with John Candy traveling to universities interviewing students?

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    X Reply

    You missed Going Berserk off the list, which is super funny btw.

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