Picks and Pans Review: Summer Rental
Although John Candy may be one of the funniest film presences around, you couldn't tell it from this, the first comedy in which he has the lead. In fact, Summer Rental might easily be mistaken for a Jack Lemmon movie from 1965. Straitjacketed in the role of a put-upon suburban father, Candy embraces the middle-class martyr pose that has been Lemmon's mainstay. As an air-traffic controller on a Florida vacation with his family, Candy even endures a series of Lemmon-like humiliations. He fumes when denied a table at a fancy restaurant. He huffs when threatened with eviction from his rental cottage. He puffs when bullied by a rich creep (Richard Crenna), whom he challenges to a climactic (and murderously uncinematic) sailboat race. But since he's a sponge for suffering, all the huffing and puffing doesn't let Candy deliver what he does best: a madman's revenge. Even when the script does give Candy his due, it saddles him with sentimentality. "We're not out of this yet," he assures his defeated family during the race. Who wants to watch John Candy be Robert Young? Like the spectacularly unfunny Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, this star vehicle owes its few clever moments to performers other than the star. The only decent joke involves a neighbor who flashes her breast implants to any interested party. As directed by Carl Reiner, the movie never has any momentum, particularly since Reiner frequently resorts to deadening fade-outs to end scenes. The only original touches of this sourpuss comedy are also its most odious: Summer Rental may qualify as the first film to highlight a Frisbee-to-the-groin gag. (PG)
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