Movies Set in Florida: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Summer Rental’

Get to know this '80s classic better and find out more about its Florida production
John Candy and Karen Austin in “Summer Rental.”
John Candy and Karen Austin play husband and wife on vacation in Florida in the 1985 movie “Summer Rental.” Publicity image

John Candy was among the most beloved actors during his short reign in Hollywood. The Canadian-born funnyman rose to fame in the 1970s on TV’s legendary “SCTV” series but wowed audiences around the globe beginning with “Stripes” in 1981 through “Splash,” “Spaceballs,” The Great Outdoors,” “Uncle Buck, “Planes Trains and Automobiles” and “Cool Runnings.”

But few movies allowed him to show off his funny bone and his heartstrings as 1985’s “Summer Rental,” which was filmed in Florida along the Gulf of Mexico beaches. Candy played an overworked air traffic controller who is ordered to take a paid leave by his supervisor. Candy grabs his wife and three children and heads to Florida, where comedy always seems to begin.

The movie was the first starring vehicle for Candy, who had recently filmed a memorable cameo in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” It also capped a busy year for the actor, who also had co-starring roles in “Brewster’s Millions,” “Follow That Bird” and “Volunteers.”

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The majority of the film was set in the fictional town of Citrus Cove but was actually shot in St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach. Several local landmarks are included including the old St. Pete Pier (recently demolished and rebuilt), a drawbridge on the north end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Johns Pass Bridge in Madeira Beach, and the Egmont Key State Park and National Wildlife Refuge.

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about “Summer Rental.”

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Though “Summer Rental” is generally considered Candy’s first leading man role, he did also star in 1983’s “Going Berserk,” though that was largely a Canadian production.

THE REAL TRUTH: The storyline was inspired by a real-life experience Bernie Brillstein had when he rented a beach house only to return home late one night to find his client John Belushi throwing a wild party for friends. Belushi himself was found sleeping in a wet swimsuit in Brillstein’s bed.

CLOSE YOUR EYES, KIDS: The movie was originally rated PG-13 but was edited to achieve a more family-friendly PG rating. What got cut? Most likely it was some clever editing in the footage with the next-door neighbor’s wife who liked to show off her recently completed breast enhancements.

FRIENDLY FACES: The movie was a reunion for Candy, John Larroquette and Lois Hamilton (the neighbor with the new breasts), who all previously appeared together in “Stripes.” Likewise, Larroquette and Karen Austin (who played Candy’s wife) were co-stars on TV’s “Night Court.”

FOR RENT: In the film, Candy’s family pays $2,000 to rent the beach house for four weeks. To rent a beach house on the Gulf Coast for four weeks in July 2023 – for two adults, three kids and a dog – would cost about $6,000, according to Maybe the rental agent will throw in a copy of “Summer Rental” on DVD as a bonus.

More movies and TV shows set in Florida:

5 Things You Didn’t Know about “Cocoon”

5 Things You Didn’t Know about “Miami Vice”

5 Things You Didn’t Know about “Magic Mike”

5 Things You Didn’t Know about “Parenthood”


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