Do you remember John Candy?
He was in just about every John Hughes film from 1980 to 1991.
He had this great sense of comedic timing, he was gregarious, relatable. He was apart of the famous Second City improv troupe in Chicago and at one time was even presented with the opportunity to be apart of Saturday Night Live; which he turned down to fully pursue acting in film.
I grew up watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck and The Great Outdoors. The beauty of John Candy as an actor in these films was how he could exemplify utterly ridiculous comedy and then completely flip the switch and draw out the perfect dramatic scene.
Roger Ebert wrote a wonderful piece on John Candy, his role in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and how he as a movie critic has considered it "one of the greatest movies ever made, it is perfectly cast and soundly constructed and all else flows naturally." You can find it HERE.
This scene shows his unabashed way of transitioning from the comedic into the dramatic;
which is a rate and powerful gift for an actor-
After a hysterical bout in that Wichita hotel room, Steven Martin's character, Neil unleashes all his pent up frustrations on John Candy's Del Griffith, on their outrageous situation:
Didn't you notice on the plane when you started talking, I started reading the vomit bag? Didn't that give you some clue that this guy's not enjoying it? Everything's not an anecdote. You have to discriminate. You choose things that are funny or mildly amusing or interesting. You're a miracle. Your stories have none of that. They're not even amusing accidentally. Honey, meet Del Griffith. He's got some amusing anecdotes. Here's a gun so you can blow your brains out. You'll thank me for it. I could tolerate any insurance seminar. For days, I could listen to them go on and on. They'd say, "How can you stand it?" And I'd say, "'Cause I've been with Del Griffith. I can take anything. You know what they'd say? I know what you mean. The shower curtain ring guy." It's like going on a date with a Chatty Cathy doll. There should be a string on your chest that I pull out. Except I wouldn't pull it out, you would. Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! By the way, when you're telling these little stories, here's a good idea. Have a point. It makes it SO much more interesting to the listener!"
After that very last line is delivered by Steve Martin's character, you can see the effect of it splattered across John Candy's face. His reaction to the outburst is touching.
"You want to hurt me? Go ahead if it makes you feel better. I'm an easy target. Yeah, you're right. I talk too much. I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you, but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. Well, you think what you want about me. I'm not changing. I like--I like me."
When John Candy's voice just slightly cracks with emotion at I like--like me; and that 1980's synthesizer music plays in the background, my heart aches every time. If you have any fraction of soul it would for you also. That's great acting right there. It's perfection.
Rodger Ebert perfectly describes that scene in this:
"....movies that last, the ones we return to, don't always have lofty themes or Byzantine complexities. Sometimes they last because they are arrows straight to the heart. When Neal unleashes that tirade in the motel room and Del's face saddens, he says, "Oh. I see." It is a moment that not only defines Del's life, but is a turning point in Neal's, because he also is a lonely soul, and too well organized to know it. Strange, how much poignancy creeps into this comedy, and only becomes stronger while we're laughing."
That's the very essence of versatility. It's that essence that can bring versatility to the table as a creative.
We all have multilayers to us. To our life experiences. What we've accomplished. How we've gotten to where we are at. What we've had to do to earn the bread.
Personally, I've started a bachelors degree in behavior health from a small college in Arizona. I've had a 12 year career in banking; winning lucrative trips to Hawaii and Vegas. I've gone back to school for dental assisting and had experience in that particular field. I've worked as a barista at Stabucks. I'm a mother of two littles, who spends most of my days taking my daughter to school, laying my son down for his naps, doing dishes, folding laundry.
Yet when I have those moments of peace, calm, tranquility; I dream about what I'm passionate about: writing. And if I'm really fortunate I get to spend a just a bit of time each day working on it.
It makes me think of that scene in Disney Pixar's Ratatouille when Colette starts to describe each of the different chef's that are employed in the kitchen at Gusteau's.
How each one of them have had these incredulous exploits in their previous vocations.
She finishes her caveat with this:
"so you see? we are artists......more than cooks are we."
We are all more than what we've done with our life. What we do with our life each day.