The Mill Creek Entertainment January 15, 2019 retro VHS-style DVD release of the 1989 John Candy slapstick-comedy "Who's Harry Crumb" aptly coincides with the (reviewed) MCE retro-style DVD release of the 1993 Arnold Schwarzenegger action-comedy "Last Action Hero." Both films provide showcases for two of the larger (no pun intended) stars of this VCR era.
"Crumb" director Paul Flaherty being the brother of Candy "SCTV" co-star Joe Flaherty may be a factor regarding Joe having a cameo in the film. We also get a guest-shot by John Belushi brother Jim Belushi.
Candy plays the titular defective detective. His backstory is that he is the third-generation Crumb to work at the Los Angeles private-investigation firm that bears the family name. Candy being portly and having great physical-comedy skill serve him well in this precursor to Melissa McCarthy films that mine humor from a big-boned star rampaging through a teencom until showing up the beautiful people at the end.
"Crumb" takes things one step further by paying homage to two great fictional detectives. His many disguises and aforementioned clumsiness (as well as an apparent dim-witted nature) evokes thoughts of "The Pink Panther" films of Peter Sellers and Steve Martin. The bad guys feeling confident that they are fooling Crumb also adds a touch of the Peter Falk "Colombo" series. This vibe extends to the audience knowing whodunit right from the start.
The action begins with heiress Jennifer Downing being kidnapped during a treatment at a textbook '80s spa. This prompts her father P.J. Downing (Barry Corbin of "Northern Exposure") to call in Crumb agency head Eliot Draisen (Jeffrey Jones). A reported shortage of investigators leads to Draisen ending the exiled Harry from a field office.
This leads to the main portion of "Crumb" in which Candy puts his "SCTV" training to good use by portraying a series of broad characters in the course of cracking the case. We also see him engage in (still amusing) predictable and less predictable bits. One surprise is that a scene in which Harry slides down a roof does not end with him enduring one of the most painful injuries known to man.
A fun element has Harry team up with Nikki Downing, who is the younger daughter of Jennifer. They make a good odd-couple team with strong rapport that includes mutual respect. A creepy aspect of Nikki is that she closely resembles Helen Downing (Annie Potts), who is the trophy second-wife of P.J.
This leads to the expected climax in which Harry shows that he is a force with which to be reckoned. Although he does not have any chewing gum, he pretty literally kicks ass and takes down names. Dumb luck resulting in the final piece of the puzzle falling into the lap of Harry is very true to the spirit of the film.
The epilogue of "Crumb" sets the stage for a sequel; this not even coming in the form of a basic cable film or a direct-to-video movie is a mystery. The better news is that Candy look divine in the gay apparel that he dons to take on his next case.
The truly final solution is that the role of Harry being such a good match with Candy, much of "Crumb" occurring in bright sunny southern California, and the supporting players including many liked faces make this one a good choice for a cold and stormy winter night.