Note: Summer is coming to a close, and I don't have the budget to do much traveling. So I decided to take some Vacation time with the Griswolds instead. All this week and next, I'll be reviewing the Vacation movies, one of the most loved (and uneven) comedy franchises in modern film.
I think you're all f**ked in the head. We're ten hours from the f**king fun park and you want to bail out? Well I'll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much f**king fun we'll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You'll be whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah' out of you're a**holes! I gotta be crazy! I'm on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy S**t!
-- Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase)
Clark Griswold is my father circa 1988. The glasses. The Izod shirt. The too-short shorts. The unrelenting and misguided enthusiasm for all things family. The barely concealed rage. It's all there. What makes National Lampoon's Vacation work so well, all these years later, is that everyone thinks Clark is based on his or her father. Some of the funniest comedy comes from recognition, and this movie is almost like watching home movies from my youth. Except for the dead aunt on the roof of the car, but we'll get to that in a moment.
They assembled a real dream team for this movie, three giants of comedy at their primes. Behind the camera, you've got Harold Ramis, fresh off his directorial debut (Caddyshack -- not a bad start!). He clearly came to play here, and I'd imagine he had something to do with keeping Chevy Chase's tendency to overact in check. The script was written and based on a short story (click here to read it!) by John Hughes, unquestionably the finest film comedy writer of the 1980s. Disagree with me? Take a look at this list of Hughes scripts produced from 1983 to 1990: Mr. Mom, Vacation, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful, Planes Trains and Automobiles, She's Having A Baby, Uncle Buck, Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone. The man was a god.