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National  Lampoon's Vacation

Six Days Seven Nights

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

National Lampoon's Vacation DVD cover

This cult comedy classic hardly requires my personal review, as virtually every comedy buff in the nation has seen it (at least once).  While I am generally not a fan of “screwball comedies,” and gross-out humor in particular, Vacation is firmly grounded in the almost guaranteed foibles of a family vacation, that most everyone who has “been there” will identify with.

 

As for the terms, “screwball” and “gross-out,” please do not construe my words to suggest that this epic comedy trip is either screwball or gross-out.  It is not.  True, there a few “stretchy” scenes that may fit these descriptions, but the movie as a whole is just plain funny and is drawn from the realities of a quest for fun…which is by no means free from the frequent “bumps” along the road!

 

The cast was absolutely made for this film…from the rural rube, “Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid),” [Isn’t there one in every family?] to the often hapless “Clark Griswold” (Chevy Chase).  And, of course, this is no news to millions of filmgoers, but the theme revolves around a middleclass family’s road trip from the Chicago suburbs to the “Walley World” theme park in Southern California…Walley World, being an obvious takeoff from Disneyland. 

While Griswold initiated the notion of such a frolic (he was “reliving” the kind of vacation he had never enjoyed as a youth), his wife, “Ellen” (Beverly D'Angelo), along with two siblings (“Audrey” and “Rusty”), were less than enthusiastic.  [Ellen’s response to the road trip idea was, “Wouldn’t it be easier to fly?” Of course, Clark shrugged this all off with, “Getting there is half the fun!”]

 

And, as it turned out, “getting there” was all the fun.  But not necessarily for the sometimes road-weary family, but certainly for the audience!

 

Of particular note were occasional exchanges where a Griswold family member would subtly express a negative unpleasantry along the way that, which would completely fly over Clark’s oblivious head (buffoonery was his trademark, but he was the only one who didn’t know it):

 

Young teen, Rusty, (feigning “happiness” prior to entering “The Longbranch Saloon,” in Kansas:  “Now, I’m glad we didn’t go to Hawaii.”  Or, “That was a crummy Wyatt Earp…he’s wearing jogging shoes”; to which Griswold responded, “Well, they used to, Russ.”

 

So much can be—and has been—written about this epic comedy that not another word is necessary on my part.  Just go rent (or buy) the National Lampoon’s Vacation DVD!  Whether or not you have already seen it in the past (or snippets of it on TV), this is a must for any comedy flick collection.