Among the actors who are most famous for starring in some of the funniest comedy movies ever made, a handful of them are known for bringing audiences equal amounts of laughter and tears, such as John Candy. I say this because rewatching the work of the two-time Emmy-winning star of the hit sketch comedy series, SCTV, reminds fans that he passed away at the age of 43 in 1994, while filming the movie Wagons East in Mexico.
While it is sad that comedy icon John Candy died so young and is no longer around to entertain us with his pristine talent, at least he still gave us plenty of reasons to keep laughing with the exceptional variety of hilarious movie classics in his filmography. The following are our picks for John Candy's best movies you can find right now on streaming, as a digital rental or purchase, or on physical media — starting with one of the greatest movies set during Thanksgiving ever made.
Planes, Trains And Automobiles (1987)
In a desperate attempt to make it home to his family in Chicago in time for Thanksgiving, an uptight advertising executive (Steve Martin) is forced to become travel buddies with a vexing shower curtain ring salesman (John Candy) on a one way trip to disaster.
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: Among his many collaborations with writer and director John Hughes, perhaps the most iconic of the bunch was when Candy was perfectly cast as the lovably obnoxious Del Griffith in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which is also one of the best Steve Martin movies and, arguably, the ultimate “road trip from hell” comedy.
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Uncle Buck (1989)
When a family crisis forces his brother and his sister-in-law out of town, a carefree bachelor (John Candy) is tasked with looking after his nieces and nephew (Macaulay Culkin) whose lives are turned upside down by his unconventional approach to parenting.
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: Two years after Planes, Trains and Automobiles, writer and director John Hughes would once again re-team with Candy and cast him in the title role of the hilarious family comedy, Uncle Buck, who was not much different from the actor’s real personality, according to his daughter.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
After he is released from prison, a musician (John Belushi) and his brother (co-writer Dan Aykroyd) aspire to reunite their old band for a show in the hope of raising money to save the orphanage they grew up in.
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: John Candy worked with a large variety of other comedy legends like himself, including former SNL stars Aykroyd and Belushi in director John Landis’ timeless musical comedy, The Blues Brothers, as Burton Mercer — a detective with a keen sense of humor, an appreciation for the blues, and a thirst for Orange Whips.
Unhappy with the way their lives are going, a pair of immature men (Bill Murray and co-writer Harold Ramis) believe they can turn their lives around by enlisting in the United States Army, unwitting of the harsh truths about the career that they are in for.
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: Another SNL veteran John Candy worked with is Murray, when he played Ox — a man who joins the Army to “lose a few pounds” — in the raunchy, politically incorrect favorite, Stripes, which is also one of the best movies by director Ivan Reitman.
An oafish outlaw pilot (Bill Pullman) and his half-man, half-dog companion (John Candy) are tasked with rescuing a princess (Daphne Zuniga) from the clutches of an evil, helmeted tyrant (Rick Moranis).
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: In addition to sharing the screen with SNL stars, Candy would often reunite with his SCTV co-stars like Moranis, with whom he reunited in Spaceballs — one of the greatest spoof movies from co-writer, director, and star Mel Brooks, in which he targets the Star Wars movies, specifically.
Years after he is rescued by a young mermaid when he was a little boy, a New York City produce manager (Tom Hanks) is suddenly reunited under similar circumstances with the aquatic, mythological beauty (Daryl Hannah) and is immediately lovestruck.
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: Another fellow SCTV vet whom John Candy would reunite with on the big screen is future Schitt’s Creek star Eugene Levy, such as in director Ron Howard’s fun, supernatural romantic-comedy, Splash, which is also one of a few different times Candy acted alongside future two-time Academy Award winner, Hanks.
Armed And Dangerous (1986)
A bumbling former cop (John Candy) and a disgraced lawyer (Eugene Levy) begrudgingly take jobs as security guards and discover they were hired to be scapegoats for a warehouse robbery scheme, inspiring them to team-up against their shady bosses.
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: A few years after Splash, Candy and Levy would reunite again and share the spotlight as the unlikely heroes of Armed and Dangerous — a riotous and underrated action-comedy which Candy’s Stripes co-star Harold Ramis actually co-wrote and helped produce, and also stars Meg Ryan.
Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989)
The latest descendant from a long line of successful private investigators and masters of disguise (John Candy) just cannot seem to live up to his family’s legacy, but does manage to land a case involving a kidnapped young heiress
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: Another fairly underrated comedy in which Candy plays a bumbling cop unwittingly hired by the bad guy and appears alongside an SCTV vet (future Freaks and Geeks cast member Joe Flaherty, in this case) is Who’s Harry Crumb? — which was directed by SCTV writer Paul Flaherty and executive produced in part by Candy himself.
The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
Two mice (Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor) from a secret organization that specializes in retrieving people in need are assigned to travel to Australia and team up with a local kangaroo agent to safely return a boy and a rare golden eagle from a deadly poacher.
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: Among his few notable voice acting roles, the one that John Candy is, arguably, best known for is when he leant his voice to one of the best animated sequels, The Rescuers Down Under, as Wilbur — an ambitious and friendly albatross whose brother, Orville, was the albatross featured in the original The Rescuers from 1977.
A district attorney (Kevin Costner) suspects that there is more to learn about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy than the government would like the American public to know.
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: Among his few dramatic roles, the one that is, arguably, John Candy’s most underrated but, inarguably, most transformative is his performance as shady New Orleans-based lawyer Dean Anderson in JFK — Oliver Stone’s controversial, conspiratorial, and thrilling courtroom drama.
Cool Runnings (1993)
After a devastating loss that costs him a spot in the Olympics, an ambitious track runner (Leon) enlists the help of a disgraced former athlete from America (John Candy) to mentor him and his teammates in bobsledding — a sport almost entirely unheard of in Jamaica at the time.
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: In a role that sees him utilize both his dramatic talents and his comedic talents wonderfully, Candy plays the initially unwilling coach of the first Olympic bobsled team from Jamaica in Cool Runnings — one of the best sports movies of its time and one based on an inspiring true story.
Canadian Bacon (1995)
When the President of the United States (Alan Alda) begins to suffer a slump in approval ratings, a political strategist (Kevin Pollack) convinces him that a great way to get in good standing with the American people is to start a Cold War with Canada.
Why it’s one of John Candy’s best: In his final acting credit, released a year after his death, the Canadian-born John Candy, ironically, plays an American who aspires to invade the Great White North after catching heat for criticizing its beer during a hockey game in Canadian Bacon — an uproarious political satire that could only have been written and directed by Academy Award-winning documentarian Michael Moore.
John Candy is still deeply missed, but he lives on in the great movies above!