Starring : Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Imogene Coca, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, Randy Quaid, Christie Brinkley, John Candy, Eddie Bracken, Brian Doyle-Murray, Miriam Flynn, James Keach, Eugene Levy, Gerry Black, Frank McRae, Jane Krakowski, John P. Navin Jr., Nathan Cook, Mickey Jones, John Diehl, Michael Talbott, Henry Gibson, Randy Lowell, and James Staley.
Directed by : Harold Ramis.
Released : July 29th, 1983.
National Lampoon’s “Vacation” is the first in the series of ‘Vacation’ movies, followed by “European Vacation”, “Christmas Vacation”, “Vegas Vacation”, and… dare I even say it… “Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure”. This is a family comedy film that is simply blessed because it was surrounded by many talented people when it was being made. For starters, we have John Hughes as the screenwriter and Harold Ramis in the director’s chair. Can it get any better than that? It’s no wonder this movie works so well on so many levels. “Vacation” was actually inspired by a fictionalized account of John Hughes’ very own misadventure of a family trip to Disneyland back when he was a small boy.
However, Disneyland is replaced by Walley World and Mickey Mouse is replaced by Marty Moose (who looks more like an ancestor of Bullwinkle). Marty Moose even has his own theme song, just like Mickey does in the Mickey Mouse Club. Last but not least, there’s the park’s owner, Roy Walley (played by Eddie Bracken), who is basically Roy Disney himself, thin mustache included. All Disney references aside, the plot of National Lampoon’s “Vacation” revolves around the Griswold family which consists of Clark (Chevy Chase), his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), and their two kids Rusty and Audrey (Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron). They all set out on a cross-country trip from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California to pay visit to Walley World.
You might be asking yourself, why not just take a quick flight over there and you’ll arrive in like a few hours? Well, according to Clark, it’s better to drive over there because that would allow for more bonding time for all of them. However, the trip is cursed from the get-go with mishaps. Even before the trip, the misfortune begins as soon as Clark and his son end up with the incorrect car instead of the one that was ordered. Over the course of the cross-country expedition, the family vehicle gets messed up by a bunch of hoodlums in St Louis, they become stranded in the Arizona desert, they lose most of their money and are forced to steal from a hotel’s cash register, then they stop at one of their relative’s house along the way, the relatives in question being played by Randy Quaid and Miriam Flynn, only to end up getting coaxed into taking their annoying Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) and her dog along for the ride, both of whom cause even more problems.
The mishaps which the Griswold family must endure are quite hilarious and fun to watch. Ramis’ direction and Hughes’ script work wonders together and compliment each other quite well. National Lampoon’s “Vacation” is considered to be the best one in the series and its no surprise as to why this is. Heck, anything before “Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure” is tolerable. One could only hope that this comedy classic doesn’t end up on Hollywood’s current remake list. Now that would really be a misadventure.