|Who's Harry Crumb?
1989 - PG-13 - 98 Mins.
|Director: Paul Flaherty
|Producer: Arnon Milchan
|Written By: Peter Martin Wortmann & Robert Conte
|Starring: John Candy, Jeffrey Jones, Annie Potts, Tim Thomerson, Barry Corbin
|Review by: John Ulmer
John Candy was at the top of his game around the point `Who's Harry Crumb?' was released. In the past few years he had starred in highly popular films and television shows, including Canadians-in-Chicago skit show `SCTV,' John Hughes' `Planes, Trains and Automobiles,' and some cameo roles in many films, including `Blues Brothers.'
And then, in 1989, around the time `Uncle Buck' came out, he released a little film named `Who's Harry Crumb,' which I can safely say is one of the worst comedies I have ever seen. Well, maybe not one of the worst EVER, but definitely the worst of 1989. It hurts me to say that, especially because John Candy is in it. But it's true.
Candy plays Harry Crumb, the son of an infamous detective. Living up to his father's expectations, Crumb walks around trying to be of use, but is the definition of `bumbling detective.' Everything he touches either breaks, or ends up in a mess on the floor. He is truly a disgrace to his family name.
And then Harry Crumb gets a big case that he knows he can solve. With the help of a young girl, he spies on various people, including Jeffrey Jones, better known as Ed Rooney to fans of the teen comedies from the eighties.
`Crumb' has many problems. First of all, I'll start with the most painfully obvious. It just isn't funny. The second problem is that the film just wanders around pointlessly. The third problem is the fact that the movie JUST ISN'T FUNNY.
John Candy tries – and succeeds – in making his character funny, no doubt. But what his character DOES is not funny. I don't see John Candy on top of a diner fan spinning around funny. I don't see John Candy in drag very funny. I don't find John Candy crawling through vents in a building funny. In fact, let me expand on this…
We see Candy crawling through the vents. This is supposed to make us laugh, because as we should know, fat people in small spaces are funny. But think how funnier it could – and would – have been if they had decided to give Candy a cigarette lighter and spoof Bruce Willis' character in `Die Hard' while he's crawling through the vent. I can see something like that. But they didn't. They missed out on a lot of material that could have worked.
That's really what hindered `Who's Harry…' It really could have been funny, but they missed out on so much material that they should have thought of.
I have often wondered what John Candy's favorite movie – that he was in – was. My favorite comedy ever is `Planes, Trains and Automobiles' starring Candy and Steve Martin. A great comedy. I hope that was Candy's favorite. But I can say with a clear conscious that `Harry Crumb' did nothing but hurt Candy's career, and that I would doubt very much that Candy enjoyed it. At all. Perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe he loved `Crumb.' I'll probably never know. But I sure hope not.