Irrefutable Life Lessons from John Candy Movies

By The Second City | Jul 30, 2015

The characters that John Candy is best remembered for are usually the big-hearted buffoons that captured our hearts, making him one of the best-loved actors of his time. But he was actually a very versatile actor with a wide range of performances. From Barf to Burton Mercer– what life lessons can we glean from his movies?

Spaceballs as “Barf” = Loyalty


What can a space mog (half-man, half-dog) named Barf teach us? Loyalty. Barf is Bill Pullman’s best friend, with him through good times and bad, as they cruise around the galaxies together.

Barf taught us to stand by our friends in times of need–even if that best friend is yourself. And remember, when traveling in an intergalactic Winnebago, always undo the seatbelt before standing up (that’s gonna leave a mark).

Uncle Buck as “Uncle Buck Russell” = Stay Young at Heart


Growing older is inevitable, but you can stay immature forever. I mean seriously… how many of you still dream of pancakes that are flipped via snow shovel?

Cool Runnings as “Irv” = Forgiveness


In this 1993 classic, we see a Jamaican bobsled team compete in the Olympics. What? That’s crazy! They live in Jamaica! Dishonored Coach Irv guides them along their journey, himself a reformed cheater. Despite his checkered past, the team forgives him, and he is able to forgive himself. Although the Jamaicans don’t win a medal, they at least had a bobsled team… and that’s for real.

(Despite the vaguely racist undertones of Cool Runnings, it is actually an incredibly enjoyable film. I will fight anyone who disagrees. –JN)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles as “Del Griffith” = Joie de Vivre


Del’s unbridled love of life is really what we love about all of John Candy’s characters: never cynical, always an optimist, a fierce warrior on the side of good.

Now get your hands out from between those pillows.

Blues Brothers as “Burton Mercer” = Perspective


Even though he’s trying to catch The Blues Brothers, Mercer makes time to sit down, enjoy the show and treat his officers to a refreshing beverage: the orange whip. Actually, make that *three* Orange Whips.

Even though John Candy the Man was, unfortunately, not long for this world, it’s still important to take time for yourself to enjoy things. Otherwise, why are we even here to begin with?

Speaking of sitting down and enjoying things, the brand new state-of-the-art John Candy Box Theatre will be dedicated !TONIGHT! (June 30th) as part of The Second City Training Centre’s expansion grand opening. For more information on classes or to come check out a show (John’s daughter Jen Candy is interviewing Eugene Levy Friday night!), click here.

I mean… you don’t have to, but we could also start driving golfballs at you.

Just saying.

Jack C. Newell is head of the The Second City Training Center’s TV, Film & Digital Program.

Paul “PK” Kingston (@PaulPKKingston) is an actor/writer/comedian who teaches Youth & Teen classes at The Second City Training Centre in Toronto.

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