If you ask most people who they would pick as the most under-rated and overlooked actor of the 80s and 90s, most of them would say Rutger Hauer. Or Jon Cryer. Or even (if they are feeling mischievous) Arsenio Hall. Very very few would say John Candy. And that's because he IS so under-rated and overlooked.
A serious look at his career shows him as much much more than just a 'fat, funny guy', which is how many of the major studios pigeon-holed him. He was funny, for sure. But he was also able to play straighter roles, showing a versatility that was often overlooked by those who only think of him as the guy that mud-wrestles with the strippers in Stripes.
Delirious is a case in point, allowing John Candy to really enjoy himself. He plays Jack Gable, the writer of one of America's most successful soap operas, Beyond Our Dreams, set in the hospital and town of Ashford Falls. When he's not battling against the show's producers in an effort to retain some control and reality, he's on set, lusting after the beautiful but self-absorbed female lead Laura (played by the wonderful Emma Samms). After a fight she has with the particular co-star she's currently dating, she agrees to go with Jack for a weekend in the country. But in getting her mountain of bags into the car, Jack manages to knock himself out. When he comes to, he's in hospital. In Ashford Falls. In the show that he writes.
After a little while, he realises that this is actually happening, and starts trying to think of how he can get out. And there, in his hotel room, is his typewriter. "I wonder..." crosses his mind, and sure enough, when he types anything, the words disappear and the action starts. Soon he's enjoying life so much he doesn't really want to leave.
But then, the producers hire Jack's arch-rival Fetterman to write the way THEY want, and so Jack has to enter a battle of words, trying to outwit the producers and their tame scriptwriter at every turn, with events getting more and more manic.
This is what allows John Candy to excel. He can BE the action hero, saving his love from a certain death. He can BE the romantic lead, sweeping the girls off their feet with acts of generosity and caring. And at the same time, he can still be the comic genius we all loved. In this he's supported by a superb cast, including Emma Samms, Mariel Hemingway, Raymond Burr, and Robert Wagner in a great cameo.
It's cool. It's unique. It's one of John Candy's finest hours. John, continue to rest in peace. You've left us with a lot to remember you by.