on 8 December 2003
...will know all about this movie, unless you had your head buried in the sand from 1980-1989. Put simply, National Lampoons Vacation,is Chevy Chase's finest hour.
The comedy is slapstick, and continues very much in the vein of Caddyshack, both of which were directed by Harold Ramis. Now, anyone watching a movie directed by Harold Ramis knows just what sort of comedy they are in for: Hotwire102, I'm guessing from your review you are one of those that just didn't get it.
Vacation is a classic, and still has holds plenty of belly laughs for me 20 years on. For those 'articulate' comedy lovers Vacation will disappoint, but for the 80's generation that grew up with Porkys, Caddyshack and Bachelor Party Vacation just can't be beat. Clark Griswold For President!
on 15 November 2013
The Griswold family, Clark, Ellen, daughter Audrey and son Rusty, set out to spend their vacation driving cross-country from Chicago to glorious Walley World on the West Coast.
The trip, which Clark planned down to the minute, slowly loses its smoothness from the moment they get a new vehicle.
A stop off cousin Eddie results in the Griswold family giving cantankerous aunt Edna a lift to Phoenix.
The Griswolds receive one strike of bad luck after another, and when they finally arrive at Walley World, they have to find out that the park is closed for maintenance.
But Clark promised his beloved family the best vacation ever...
With Clark Griswold, and Fletch, Chase had two of the funniest characters in the early eighties, and this movie has to be the best movie Chase has ever made. No matter which version you have seen, edited, the one with the Pointer Sisters in the blondes car, or the one with profanity, it never fails to raise a laugh.
Standalone, the plot is simple and generic, the family are going on holiday, plain and simple. But what happens in between is the filling, and the filling is goo-oood (as Eddie would say), and they play like different sketches.
Chase is deadpan throughout, and always manages to keep Clark utterly serious, even when he loses the plot at the end, and the support is fantastic.
Other comedies have tried to emulate the comedy road movie, but they end up having gross out gags, because they don't have the genius writers behind this movie.
A classic eighties movie, still funny today.
Clark Griswold ignores his family's pleas to go to Hawaii for their summer vacation and opts for the Walley World resort in California instead. His long-suffering wife Ellen wants to fly, but Clark would rather drive and spend time with the kids he hardly ever sees.
Sounds like a simple journey from A to B right? Wrong! The Griswolds are a gene pool of absolute disaster and nothing...NOTHING goes right...ever. The fun begins with Clark being forced to accept a disgusting metallic pea-green family truckster instead of a cool-blue sports model with CB and optional fun pack. It's literally the most hideous car in the history of automobiles (and that includes the car that Homer Simpson made for his brother Herb).
As the lengthy days on the road pass, Clark is ripped-off by street hustlers, guilt-tripped out of $500 from his hick cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid in what is, begrudgingly, his most popular role), ripped-off by a hick sheriff/mechanic, and tempted by gorgeous blonde in a Ferrari. Though Ellen doesn't take kindly to anyone with an eye on her Sparky (actually D'Angelo's pet name for Chevy Chase and not something that was scripted).
Based on John Hughes' ill-fated trip to Disneyworld when he was five-years-old, Vacation brought us Chevy Chase's most famous character (sorry Fletch) and most successful series. He has absolutely perfect chemistry with Beverly D'Angelo, who, with her large eyeballs and perfect timing, is an under-rated comic actress in her own right.
While I absolutely love the first and third movies in the Vacation series, and both definitely score 5/5, I have to say the original is the best as it has a really dark edge that none of the others have. There's virtually nothing in Vacation that isn't funny. Harold Ramis, fresh off the absolute anarchy of Caddyshack, keeps a tight, sadistic reign on the disastrous road trip. If you have a dark sense of humor and enjoy evil comedy then you'll love Vacation. It was one of the first movies I ever saw and it helped turn me into the misanthropic, dysfunctional, ghoulish misfit that I am today.
Thank you, Vacation! Thank you!
The Blu Ray looks great with a 1080p 1.78:1 picture. The sound is in DTS HD-MA Mono, but it gets the job done. Extras are limited to an introduction by Chase and Quaid and a commentary. The could have done better, to be honest.
on 26 December 2012
Yet another defining 1980s film written by John Hughes (and directed by Harold Ramis), "National Lampoon's Vacation" chronicles a classic every man character named Clark W. Griswold, treating his family to a road-trip vacation. Hughes based his script on his short story published in the Lampoon magazing called "Vacation 58'", which recounts his family's trip and the subsequent fallout in going to Disneyland. I often vascilate between which is the best in the "Vacation" series: "Vacation" or "Christmas Vacation". Both are seminal classics in their genre, but I'd probably give a (very) slight edge to the original.
However, in "Vacation", John Hughes, Chevy Chase, and Harold Ramis laid the foundation for the Vacation series. The Griswolds are traveling to Wally World (a thinly disguised parody of Disneyland). Throughout the trip, mishaps galore plague the family, yet Clark bravely [passes on] presses onward, determine to make this trip a roaring success despite obstacles and events that would neutralize any further attempts by a rational person. But don't worry. Clark is not rational.
The subsequent films take their cue from the characterizations determined in this film. Clark is a good-hearted but rather flawed father who, when events get too much (which they frequently do), memorably flies off the handle due to the vacation not living up to his highly idealised view and dream. Ellen Griswold is Clark's long suffering wife and acts as an anchor to "Sparky's" rather outrageous and frequently unrealistic ideas. Their two children, Rusty and Audrey, are simply along for the ride. Clark is in the food additive business.
Although very funny, for "family viewers" you should be aware "National Lampoon's Vacation" is an adult comedy. As this is National Lampoon's, the comedy is rather edgier [harder edged] at times, although not quite as racy as the 1978 Ramis "Animal House". There are several instances of profanity, including multiple uses of "f--". There are two brief instances of nudity - one where Beverly Delango is topless during a show scene, and another very brief shot that again shows Beverly topless before she jumps into a pool skinny dipping. During the visit with the admittedly very dysfunctional Cousin Eddie and Katherine clan, Cousin Dale introduces Rusty to porn magazines and masturbation, and Cousin Vicky introduces Audry to marijuana. Cousin Vicky also tells Audry that she french kisses her father, so the film makes references to incest as well.
A brief overview of this particular film is that Clark, after purchasing a new "family truckster" from Eugune Levy, takes an extended roadtrip. In the course of the film, the Griswolds kill a dog, visits the infamous Cousin Eddie and his family, destroy their car after driving it off a huge sand dune in Arizona, goes broke, have severe marriage problems (which is played strictly for comedy; Clark goes skinny dipping with Christie Brinkly and has a mental affair with her for the entire film), and Clark ends the vacation by kidnapping security guards and make them operate Wally World (which is closed for repairs).
Hughes has always been quite notable for his ultimate skill in truly capturing the common life experiences of teenagers. Yet with "Vacation" (and with the 1989 "Christmas Vacation" as well), Hughes proves he can write characters that people from so many different walks of life can walk too. Here are some relevant quotes from the DVD commentary.
"I can't tell you how many thousands of people have said to me in these 20 years, `Just like my family.'" - Matty Simmons (producer)
"Basically we figured this was the story of a dad who gets two weeks off a year and overcompensates like a mad man to give his family he didn't give them for the rest of the year. [...] He's not a very good person [meaning Clark]. No, he's not a good husband or even a good person, but he's enough like people really are that we see ourselves in it." - Harold Ramis
"This is all very funny physical stuff if I may say so my damn self." - Chevy Chase
Ramis in the commentary talks about how in his early films he was trying to find his "comedic tone". In later films he could do with serious issues in a funny way that still retain their seriousness, but in the early films not so much.
The quote regarding Clark not being a good person is really spot on. He shows callous indifference to Aunt Edna's difference, he is willing to have an affair with a random woman, and his relationship with his wife and children are severely lacking. He is willing to commit violence against security personnel at a "fun park" in order to meet his own personal agendas. Yet we relate to Clark, which is what makes both John Hughes and Chevy Chase so successful in this film. Despite the seriousness of so many different situations [present] that occur in the film, all are played strictly for comedy, despite the situational gravity present.
The film is notable for several cameos. John Candy is the security guard. Eddie Bracken plays Roy Wally (he also appeared in "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York", another John Hughes project). Bracken even looks like Walt Disney. Brian Doyle-Murray (Bill Murray's older brother) briefly as a Kamp Komfort clerk. Brian would later play Clark's boss in "Christmas Vacation". Eugune Levy is the carsalesman. Jane Krakowski plays Cousin Vicky. She would later go on to find prominence in Ally McBeal and 30 Rock.
My personal favorite though is Mickey Jones, who plays the mechanic/sherriff that rips Clark off after he crashes his car in the desert. Being the Dylan fanatic that I am, I was thrilled to learn this was Mickey Jones, who played drums for Bob Dylan on his world famous 1966 tour. The Band backed Dylan on this tour, and Mickey Jones replaced their regular drummer, Levon Helm. Jones was the drummer on the infamous "Royal Albert Hall" concert, which Dylan released in 1998 as "The Bootleg Series 4".
DVD BONUS FEATURES AND DELETED SCENES: There aren't any deleted scenes, at least not on the DVD copy I have. There is a brief (and very pointless) 40 second introduction by Matty Simmons, Chevy Chase, and Randy Quaid. There is a feature length commentary by Simmons, Chase, and Dana Baron (who plays Audrey). Toward the very end I think Anthony Michael Hall makes a brief appearance too.
The famous "lost ending", which apparently Chase has on a VHS tape somehwere, is similiar to the "Jitterbug" sequence from the 1939 "The Wizard of Oz" - the end is [apparently] lost and has never been released commercially. Chase and the crew, after discovering that Wallyworld is shut down for repairs, goes to Roy Wally's house and holds them hostage at gunpoint. We learn that Christie Brinkly's character is Roy Wally's daughter, and Christie pleads to her father to not prosecute Clark. Ultimately the Griswolds fly back to Chicago, wearing Marty Moose hats. The snapshot of the Griswolds wearing these hats on an airplane in the end credits come from this fabled lost ending. The movie end tested horribly with test markets and preview audiences, so Ramis had Hughes rewrite the ending, and six months after filming wrapped they reconvened and shot the ending we all know in four days. For those familiar with "Christmas Vacation", the ending of that film plays out like a slightly reworked version of "Vacation"'s original ending.
On the DVD commentary Dana Barone said she had never seen the original ending, which prompted Chase to reveal he still had the ending on a VHS tape. Like the fabled two and a half hour extended cut of Hughes' "The Breakfast Club" (of which Hughes reportedly had the only copy), none of this extra footage has ever been commercially released or even available on bootleg or black market. Hopefully one day we will get to see the lost footage. The more Hughes, the better.
For those wanting a good family friendly version, Ramis did record several santised takes which frequently air on cable TV, so watch the movie next time it comes on. Probably the most famous santised verison is where Cousin Vicky changes her french kissing partner from her father (who is not only a dead beat but sexually abusive) to her science teacher. For those looking for the original, pick up the DVD. Just be aware the extras aren't all that great.
on 10 January 2013
I'm not sure whether or not this movie was deemed to be a "comedy classic," but I'd never rank it that high.
Altogether, I did enjoy it, partially thanks to the fact that I was able to put myself in the Griswolds' shoes and feel their relenting turmoil when they'd get into one disaster after another. The comedy, however, could've been a lot sharper. Most of the jokes are predictable. Come on, when Clark bit into that sandwich, was it really a surprise when you found out the dog peed on it? John Hughes, who wrote the script, obviously wasn't aiming for great punchlines. I got a lot more chuckles than full-fledged laughs, but it's still a funny, likable comedy. But I really could've done without that lamer-than-lame score. I like the theme song, "Holiday Road," but the rest of the music is almost vomit-inducing.