National Lampoon's Vacation
Director: Harold Ramis
Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid, Dana Barron, Miriam Flynn, John Candy, Christie Brinkley, Jane Krakowski, Eugene Levy
When I was a boy, just about every summer we'd take a vacation. And you know, in 18 years, we never had fun.
When Jack Ryan got pushed, this one just kind of made sense. Not only does it include one of the best and most popular Christmas movies of all time, this first entry in the series turned 30 this year. Things just lined up. This is also Naptown Nerd's first foray into the straight comedy genre with a retrospective series. We did do Beverly Hills Cop back in the summer, but that is more of an action/police drama/comedy hybrid. For me, I'm familiar with the 1st and 3rd entry in this series and we'll discuss that further when covering them. The 2nd and 4th movies I have only seen once a piece, so its going to be interesting to revisit 2 movies my memory isn't really remember but a few details. And then there's something I'm assuming is going to be a giant turd to finish us out that I have never seen and avoided til now. So, lets move on down the "Holiday Road" with the Griswold family, shall we?
In our maiden voyage, we follow the Griswold family on their road trip cross country from Illinois to California in hopes of going to Walley World. On the way, of course, are a few stops. We start from the acquisition of the car and the preparation the night before. One man's desire to spend more time with his family turns into a very comedic nightmare trip from hell. This classic journey is one of the great all time road trip movies there is. If you're a fan of Chevy Chase, as I am, this movie is definitely full of his wonderful quips and snark that we've come to enjoy over the years. But, if you're a fan, then you've definitely seen this movie more than once.
This is the film that also got John Hughes his big start. He based the screenplay off of a short he wrote for National Lampoon's magazine called "Vacation '58". They then optioned to put it into a movie. Originally the film was to have the focus be the teenage children of Clark and Ellen, but once Harold Ramis and Chevy Chase were attached, the focus then became Clark. Christie Brinkley's character was even a teenager and supposed to be a interest of Rusty and even that was changed to be Clark's.
While this movie is held high up, there are a few moments that definitely feel a bit awkward when watching it now (and maybe back then?). There's a scene early on when Clark takes the wrong exit and winds up in a ghetto in St. Louis. A an "extremely dangerous" ghetto with nothing but black people. I suppose I can see this being humorous to white people of the 80s...maybe not, but today, its an very ugly moment in the film that is supposed to be played for laughs. It wasn't the first film to of the era to attempt this kind of story turn, by far. If you take a look back at the 80s, you'll find many films that try to evoke fear or laughs by a white person getting lost in the wrong "poor black neighborhood"
Next Time: All I remember is some topless women dancing on a bar and my dad telling me I needed to turn my head.
For now...go ahead and get this stuck in your head!