This month on the Cult Film Club we’re talking all about that other John Hughes vacation movie, The Great Outdoors from 1988. Written by Hughes and directed by long-time Hughes collaborator Howard Deutch (who also directed Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful for Hughes), the film debuted back on June 17th, 1988. That was a huge year for film, in particular comedies with no less than 15 high profile studio efforts hitting theater screens including films like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Bull Durham, Coming to America, Funny Farm, Scrooged, Crocodile Dundee II, Big, Beetlejuice, The Naked Gun and A Fish Called Wanda. So even though The Great Outdoors was a modest hit grossing upwards of $40 million, it was still only barely cracking the top 25 films of the year, and is a film that we definitely feel needs a little love as its fallen off the radar of a lot of cinema buffs over the years since it debuted.

So let’s take a moment to scope some of the newspaper advertisements for the film from back in the CFC digital archives.

First up, here are some ads from one of the flagship papers in the US, The New York Times, like this one from the day before its official release back on June 16th of 1988…

We’re no experts for sure, but if we had to pinpoint an aspect of the film’s marketing campaign that might have hindered it’s appeal just a bit it would have to be the poster artwork for the film. Now, don’t mistake this critique with a lack of love for the poster, which featured a recreation of a fictional camping magazine complete with article titles, volume and issue numbers and a UPC. In fact, we adore this poster, but when you convert it to the impersonal and required black and white for newsprint, it loses a lot of its charm and makes the ads seem a bit muddled. Here’s the original poster for comparison…

The full-page New York Times ad from the 17th is a bit better as it gave the poster imagery more room to breath (so to speak), and wasn’t as squished to fit the ad specs…

This last ad we dug up from the New York Times features one of our favorite aspects of movie newsprint ads, the addition of seasonal accents to the art to showcase that the film has been playing for a minute (and thus is a must see flick if one missed it.) This ad from July 1st of 1988 is fully decked out in July 4th charm with the added American flag on the fishing pole and the fireworks over the lake. Eagle-eyed viewers will also notice the added “Lips & Assholes” brand Hot Dog package and two raccoons (in place of the original one) cooking up some L&A dogs for a mid-day meal!

So let’s branch out a bit and scope some ads from other papers. How about this one from the Pittsburgh Gazette from June 17th that has the film going to head to head with Crocodile Dundee II

Or this second ad from the Pitt. Gazette the following week that paired the film with a much more similar flick that year, Funny Farm

Like a lot of other outlets, the Gazette also ran the July 4th variation in its July 1st edition, though they opted for a version of the ad that omitted the “Lips & Assholes Hot Dogs” from the artwork. Now I’m curious how provocative that line from the film was considering there were papers that didn’t want even a hint at that sort of profane joke in their pages…

Last, but certainly not least, let’s take a look at this ad and review for the film from the June 17th edition of the Spokane Chronicle (which also pairs the film with an ad for the Tom Hanks/Peggy Marshall flick Big)…

This review is kind of painful to read as the critic, Richard Freedman, comes off like a real bitter prick. I mean he opens the review by taking the shit out of The Coaster’s song Yakety Yak with the line: “…the kind of well intentioned goof who sings along with the moron music on his car radio by way of diverting his wife and two sons from all the scenic splendor surrounding them.” Jesus, there is so much bullshit in that one sentence that really needs to be unpacked. First off, “moron music”? Um, really Mr. Freedman? The Coasters may not be your idea of fun or good music, but damn sir. They were super talented musicians and vocalists, not to mention hugely influential on pop music as they were one of the go-to acts that inspired little bands you may have heard of like The Beatles, The Hollies, Elvis Presley and the Grateful Dead. So yeah, if that’s your definition of “moron music”, you may have just illustrated that you had zero business in the field of artistic criticism. Also, for someone who hopefully watched the film they were critiquing, it’s weird that you chose to frame that opening sequence as a scene where Chet Ripley is distracting his family from the splendor of the great outdoors. I mean he is THE ONE character supremely championing “the splendor” through the entire film. His kids and in-laws want to do anything but that. Sigh, this is another prime example of why the machine that is Hollywood needs to be blown out someone’s ass. Freedman ends his ridiculous review by mocking Candy’s weight in a move that is right out of the classic, piece-of-shit, bully handbook. To this I say, grow a dick sir.