If there was any justice in the world, Dan Aykroyd would have been the subject of a special Awesome/Sucked column years ago when Ghostbusters 3 was made, starring the entire original cast and passing the torch to a new generation. Sadly, thanks in part to the lack of a suitable script and Bill Murray’s unwillingness to play ball, the relentless march of time robbed us of that opportunity.
And now, Aykroyd qualifies almost by accident. He has a cameo in the new Ghostbusters film, having praised it to the high heavens (in the most transparent case of sycophancy ever seen): an unintentional booby prize that by no means reflects on the quality of the reboot. But talk about distracting.
Of course, Aykroyd is a lot more than a Ghostbuster. He’s been a Blues Brother, a Conehead, a super secret Indiana Jones cameo and one of the most enduringly popular Saturday Night alumni ever. And all that despite making a frankly stunning number of terrible movies. He’s just very lucky that his early output (between SNL and the mid-90s) was so consistently watchable (even when it wasn’t the best).
Firstly, the performances that made Aykroyd the comedy movie legend he is…
5. Roman Craig – The Great Outdoors (1988)
Traditionally, The Great Outdoors is considered a good John Candy film, and while it’s true that the late, great star is a fundamentally definitive presence, his success depends on the charitable balance offered by Aykroyd.
Dodging his usual nice guy/charming outsider shtick, Aykroyd here is in full douche-bag mode, playing Candy’s incredibly dislikable in-law, driven by greed, arrogance and the appearance of power. He’s a yuppy villain, and he’s thoroughly detestable – and thus thoroughly successful – and his chemistry with the perpetually adorable Candy is great.
Outrageously, the film is not universally loved, with accusations that its lack of innovation or an important message in some way compromises its ability to entertain. It’s ludicrous: The Great Outdoors is a disposable comedy based on a great character dynamic, and it is as funny and as memorable as Candy’s other more celebrated work.