When John Hughes died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago at the age of 59, folks my age (I’ll be 40 soon) were understandably unnerved. Even though it had been some time since he’d created anything worthy of mass consumption, probably a dozen different projects bearing his name all but collectively define my generation. Hughes was the voice of angst-ridden ‘80s youth, and I dare say that no filmmaker since has come even close to replicating the feat for any subsequent generations on such a consistent basis.
People still wonder, “Why don’t they make movies like The Breakfast Club anymore?,” and it’s a valid question that leads to a possibly startling truth: Hughes’ vision was as unique as a Kubrick or a Tarantino. A big difference is that he made it look easy, even though making movies as perfect as Hughes frequently did is anything but. His movies are in fact so timeless in their way that a flick like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains as relevant today as it was back in ’86.
Now go back to 1994, if you can, and remember when John Candy died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 43. I was 23 at the time, and 43 didn’t seem all that young to me, but – surprise, surprise – it sure as hell does now. Of course, 43 is ridiculously young, and it’s not as if Candy was a druggie or a boozer or what have you. His biggest social “crime” was being a big guy, and eventually he paid for it, which is very, very sad.
I’ve been on a John Candy kick for a few months now, trying to catch up on some of his later films that I missed. Most of them haven’t been very good, even when he’s good in them. Probably his last great performance was in JFK in ’91, and even though he’s only got a scene or two in that movie, you can tell that there were sides of Candy that we never got to see. Candy is the kind of actor who would’ve eventually had a career renaissance, and we would’ve seen those sides that were only hinted at in his early work. I miss John Candy now more than ever, because I miss all the work he never got to do.
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