Black SplatThe Great Outdoors (1988)

"You wouldn't know a good time if it fell out of the sky and landed on your face and started to wiggle!"

The Great Outdoors - Roman argues with Chet

Description: Dan Aykroyd as Roman Craig argues with his brother-in-law Chet Ripley (John Candy) in the motion picture The Great Outdoors (1988).

It's summer and Chicagoan Chester "Chet" Riley decides to take his family to the great outdoors. His family includes his wife, Connie (Stephanie Faracy); and their two sons, Buck (Chris Young) and Ben (Ian Giatti). Their destination is a lake resort in Pechoggin, Wisconsin.

Upon arrival, the Ripleys are greeted by a snarling, barking dog whose face is filled with porcupine quills. "Don't mind Wormer folks," informs Wally, the owner of resort. "She hates people, loves porcupines. She's in heat too. Too bad you're not a dog. What can I do ya for?" Then Wally takes the Ripleys to their cabin where they plan to spend a leisurely week, boating, fishing, and barbecuing.

Meanwhile, approaching the resort in a Mercedes [license: ROMAN 1] is Chet's annoying, money-obsessed brother-in-law Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd), his wife, Kate (Annette Bening) and their creepy, red-haired twin daughters of which Chet says, "I'm waiting for their heads to rotate around and vomit pea soup." Roman's visit is unannounced, but he believes his surprise visit will make Chet "shit a solid gold brick" when he sees him.

The Great Outdoors - Chet spins a tale about a ferocious bear

As the two families settle in for the first night, Chet tells a spooky tale of his encounter with an eight-foot grizzly bear when he and his wife honeymooned at the resort years earlier. Chet is the hero of the story and proudly reveals how he saved the day, when he fired a shotgun at the bear. The blast ripped fur off the top of the bear's head and sent it running away in pain. From that day on, the grizzly was known as the 'Bald-Headed Bear' of Claire County. When Chet finishes the story, he throws his alcoholic beverage into the fireplace and creates a huge fireball that whooshes up the chimney and into the night.

And so the vacation begins as Chet, the quiet, family guy and Roman, a fast-talking huckster try to make the best of the situation. Things are complicated because Chet has simple tastes, but Roman reaches for the stars. Chet prefers the aroma a hotdog on a barbeque, ("You know what they make those things out of, Chet? You know? Lips and assholes!"), Roman has to have grilled lobster tail. And when Chet wants to rent a lumbering pontoon boat to slowly plod about the lake, Roman must have a high-powered ski boat.

The Great Outdoors - Chet eats a 96 ounce steak

For the rest of the vacation, Chet and company have a number of adventures:

  • Chet accepts the challenge of eating a 96 ounce steak (gristle and all) so the families will eat free at the clubhouse. He wins, but chucks up his entire meal, which makes everyone run for the hills. As they return from the steak eating competition, Chet and Roman find that their cabin ransacked by marauding raccoons who had been foraging through their trash cans.
  • Chet goes go-carting while Roman goes golfing. One of Roman's balls bounces off a tree and hits Chet in the face as he is driving his go-cart about the track.
  • Chet goes to the trash dump to watch the bears rummaging through the cans. To impress his kids, he lures the bears closer to the car with Zagnut candy bars, but the situation gets out of hand as the bears climb on the hood and roof of his vehicle.
  • Chet goes on a trail ride with everybody, but his horse is uncooperative. When he climbs off the horse to grab a stick to motivate the horse to move, his mount wisely runs away and leaves Chet to walk back to the cabin.
  • Chet and Roman meet a guy named Reg who has been hit in the head 66 times by lightning. ["Sixty six times? God, that's gotta hurt."] A short while later Reg's record rises to 67.
  • Everyone screams and runs out of the cabin when a bat enters the place. Chet and Roman grab tennis rackets and fish nets to do battle with the flying rat.
  • A disastrous ski boating outing pulls Chet off the dock at high speed while instucting his son how to use his water skis. [Chet: You bastard! You bastard! Roman: I think he's saying go faster."]
  • And while using leeches as bait during a fishing trip, Chet, Roman, Buck and Ben fall asleep in the boat. When they wake, the leeches are all over their bodies. "LEEECHES!"

Eventually, tempers fllare when Chet gets tired of Roman's know-it-all attitude. Roman tells Chet, "You wouldn't know a good time if it fell out of the sky and landed on your face and started to wiggle!" while Connie tells Roman, "Oh, blow it out your ass!"

But the heated argument and hurt feelings are short-lived when the two girls come up missing. The kids left the cabin to go spelunking in a nearby mine shaft. Unfortunately, a down pour makes the entrance to the mine slippery and the girls slide down the muddy shaft and get trapped at the bottom, that is now filling with water.

"Why do Chet's kids look at him like he's Zeus and my kids look at me like I'm a rack of lawn tools at Sears?" - Roman

The Great Outdoors - Roman rescues his girls from a mine

When the girls are found, Roman overcomes his fear of closed spaces and descends into the mine while Chet goes to find a rope. But when Roman sees his children sitting on boxes of unexploded dynamite, he quickly finds a way to get them out of the mine. When Chet returns with the rope, he feeds it down the mine shaft but instead of Roman and the girls, he pulls out the bald-headed bear he shot years ago.

The Great Outdoors - Grizzly bear growls at Chet

Chet runs to the safety of his cabin with the bear in hot pursuit. He swiftly enters and closes the cabin, but the bear breaks the door down.

The Great Outdoors - The bear breaks down Chet's cabin door

To save his family, Chet once again grabs a shotgun and fires. This time shaving the fur from the bear's behind. Predictably, the bear runs away.

By the end of the vacation, Roman reveals that he is broke. He lost his job as an investment broker two years ago and has been working menial jobs to support his family. Chet and Roman reconcile, and Chet's wife, Connie invites her sister Kate and family to move in with them until they are financially sound. Initially, Roman came to the cabin to fleece $25000 from Chet using the rouse of a potentially lucrative investment opportunity.

The Great Outdoors - Movie Poster

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