Globe and Mail (Canada)
December 20, 1985
People in the World' Reunite
JOHN CANDY IS worried about the
whereabouts of his 5-year-old daughter's coat. "Where's your
coat? Where'd you leave it? In the kitchen? Are you
sure? Hey, stop that. And where are your gloves and your hat?
With your coat? Are you sure?"
Candy is squeezed into a teeny- weeny room
in a white-painted bungalow in North York, Ont., where he has just finished
singing Happy Birthday 32 times at the top of his lungs to the television
cameras and Dave Thomas, who is standing in the same room, only with more
breathing space than Candy (because of his size). This is not just another
movie. This is a family affair.
The Incredible Travelling Times of Henry
Osgood is a special hour- long show to be aired March 1 on the U.S. pay-TV
channel Showtime. It's about a mild-mannered history teacher who is
whisked back and forth in time by a mysterious coachman, dropped in strange
places and abandoned to the mercy of forces beyond his control.
The script was written by Thomas, Paul
Flaherty (brother of SCTV's Joe), Dick Blasucci and Michael Short (brother of
Martin) as a vehicle for Thomas's talents as a dramatic actor (the SCTV alumnus
and one-half of the beer- chugging McKenzie Brothers plays the title
role). Thomas, who is also the film's director and executive producer,
sees it like this: "It's a homecoming."
It's also a hoser's dream. For this
project, the first Thomas has done for Showtime, he has recruited many of his
friends to help. The result is a blockbuster cast of Canadian comedic
talent: Candy, Jayne Eastwood, Martin Short, Valri Bromfield, Eugene Levy,
Catherine O'Hara, Joe Flaherty and newcomer Bronson Pinchot (the salesman in the
art gallery in Beverly Hills Cop). Says Thomas: "They're all my
friends. They're also the funniest people in the world - I wouldn't think
of working with anybody else. They're all basically doing this as a favor
to me because I certainly could never afford them."
If you knew the troubles Thomas has had
trying to find financial backing in Canada, you'd realize this is no joke.
Most of the cast and crew, described by a proud Thomas as "the cream of the
crop" (the majority also worked with him at SCTV), are working for well
below their usual rates. But nobody seems to mind. During the last
10 days of shooting in and around Toronto, cast and crew have worked feverishly
and devotedly to complete the project. No one's complaining. You
could say it's the Christmas spirit that's keeping them from getting too grumpy,
but it's more that the gang feel they're all in this together. This
company is one that not only works together, it also plays together and eats
together. In places, it's a tad incestuous, but as everyone on the
set will tell you: "It's family."
Later, at a North York church that also is
being used as a set, the family has gathered for a hair and makeup call.
Jennifer Candy, whose coat really was in the kitchen, is running around chasing
a fuzzy brown pup. She is quickly joined by her young co-stars (a mean age of 6
years): Sarah Polley (playing Candy's other daughter), Daniel Dicks and Michael
Coristine (playing Thomas's sons). Though they've all just been cleaned,
powdered, combed and ribboned, the kids run amuck while terrorizing the besieged
pup. One of them starts throwing things at the yelping creature, and the
makeup woman, who owns the dog, starts running after the kids (she'd throw
something too, but Candy is quietly watching her from a corner of the
room). Three old ladies in pink and blue dresses sit against the wall on
folding chairs while watching the ruckus with practiced calm.
They are extras, the aunts in the
birthday-party scene, and they act as if they've been aunts all their
lives. Beside them, an old geezer who plays an uncle has fallen asleep
over his wooden cane.
Jayne Eastwood, who plays Candy's wife,
has three children of her own tucked away in Toronto's Beaches area. Used
to the noise that little ones make, she doesn't bat an eye. Rather,
lighting up a cigaret and reaching for a cup of coffee, she blithely ignores
everyone. She's a pro. She alone knows how to take a break.
Valri Bromfield, who plays Thomas's wife,
appears agitated. Someone's makeup is done before hers and she's
upset. She makes a joke, something to the effect of "hey, will you
take a number, or somethin'?" Candy, the room's most conspicuous
papa, is delighted to see the tykes having fun. He likes kids. You
can tell. When his wife suddenly walks in carrying a baby, Candy, who has
been silently biding his time, brightens and croons: "Well, if it isn't the
little guy." This is his new son, and already the little guy looks
frighteningly like pops.
Thomas, who is harried and tired and
drinking his fifth cup of coffee (it's only 11 a.m.), takes time to pat a kid or
two on the head and joke easefully with Candy, Bromfield and Eastwood. He
sits down and gets his makeup done. The dark circles under his eyes
miraculously disappear, and the clump of hair that has awkwardly sprouted wings
on the right side of his head is dutifully trimmed. "Don't take off
too much," Thomas pleads.
He is too involved in the story to really
talk about it, so he urges a reading of the script instead. He's more
concerned that Canadians may not be able to see the show because of the lack of
financial support here. He's embarrassed that his friends are working for
less than usual, so he makes sure he's extra nice to them. At lunch, he
brings in real homecooking - the kind that really schmecks. The cast and
crew go wild.
Eastwood eats too much ("will anyone
look if I take off my girdle"), Bromfield grows drowsy, Jennifer Candy goes
for seconds, and Thomas sits next to his old pal Candy and shoots the breeze,
for old time's sake.