National Lampoon's Vacation
is a 1983 comedy film directed by Harold Ramis and starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall. The film features numerous others (such as comedians John Candy
and Imogene Coca, supermodel Christie Brinkley, and future 30 Rock
regular Jane Krakowski) in smaller roles.
The screenplay was written by John Hughes
, based on his short story in National Lampoon
Magazine, "Vacation '58" (the screenplay changes the year to 1983). The original story is (reportedly) a fictionalized account of his own family's ill-fated trip to Disneyland (changed to "Walley World" for the film) when Hughes was a boy. The success of the movie helped launch his screenwriting career.
The film was a significant box-office hit, earning over $61 million in the United States with an estimated budget of $15 million. In 2000, readers of Total Film
magazine voted National Lampoon's Vacation
the 46th greatest comedy film of all time.
A series of sequels
There was also a 2003 Made-for-TV Movie
, Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure
, which focuses on Randy Quaid's character and his family, and a 2010 Reunion Show
, Hotel Hell Vacation
wherein Clark and Ellen stay at a hotel that doesn't go in their favor.
A sequel/reboot to the original has been green lit and filming will begin next year. Ed Helms will star as an adult Rusty Griswold who takes his family on a crosscountry road trip. The film will be written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein who previously did Horrible Bosses
The original, however, is still widely considered to be the best of the Vacation
films, and continues to be a popular film and a staple on cable television channels. It also currently garners a 97% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A "Wally World Water Park" opened in Canada
several years after the release of the movie.
This film provides examples of:
- All for Nothing: After all what they have went through in that torturous trip, they finally arrive at Walley World only to find it closed for maintenance. Which proves to be the very last straw for Clark.
- The Alleged Car: The Wagon Queen Family Truckster, a parody of the hideous American sedans and wagons of the era. It was intentionally ugly in 1983, and looks even more so today.
- It even has what may be the earliest example of the "accidental airbag deployment" gag. In 1983!
- By the end of the trip, it's practically falling to bolts, having survived not only shoddy workmanship, but also vandalism and a fifty-foot jump.
- Analogy Backfire: When Clark tries to justify his actions to Roy Walley:
Clark: Can you imagine how your kids would have felt if when you got to Florida, it was closed?
Roy: Oh, they don't close Florida.
- Bumbling Dad: Clark is the king of this trope.
- Cluster F-Bomb: When the Griswolds have been through hell and Ellen suggests going home, Clark finally snaps and goes into one of these. It is... epic..
- Continuity Nod: Clark wears Wally World tees and sweaters throughout European Vacation.
- Corrupt Hick: The film features a scene where Chevy Chase is taken advantage of by a couple of hicks at a gas station, who barely fix his car, then take all of his money. Chevy asks them what their local sheriff thinks of their shady "business" dealings, leading the men to laugh, and one of them to pull out and display a sheriff's badge.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Clark pulls this off when arriving at Walley World, by holding a man who works there at gunpoint, just because they closed it down for two weeks due to street cleaning.
- Fictional Counterpart: Walley World, to the Disney Theme Parks.
- Hollywood Law: the 4th film has this in spades: a Fake ID is all the under-21 rusty needs to be able to keep 4 luxury cars won at the slot machines, and Clark is able to cash someone else's winning keno ticket.
- The Honest John's Dealership where Clark buys the Family Truckster somehow gets away with crushing Clark's car before he traded it in for the Truckster, on top of forcing him to buy a model he didn't order (it also begs the question of why they had an on-site crusher). They also drive across the country without license plates or even temporary tags, which would have gotten Clark pulled over as soon as he left the dealership.
- Honest John's Dealership: Clark procures the Family Truckster from one of these.
- Hot Mom: Ellen Griswold
- Improbable Parking Skills: Clark falls asleep at the wheel, the car wanders onto an exit ramp, careens toward a hotel, and Clark wakes up in time to scream and stomp the brakes. The car stops in a parking spot, and the luggage all tumbles off the top of the car to boot.
Clark: "Well, we're here!"
- Jerkass: Aunt Edna who complains every chance she get as she travels with the family. Thankfully she dies along the way.
- Left It In: Before the family leaves for their trip to Europe, Clark videotapes Ellen while she's taking a shower, who then tells him to delete it after he's finished. The family gets their camera stolen by a thief while they're in France; when they arrive in Rome, Ellen then discovers that Clark did not delete the video of her in the shower at all, when she sees a poster advertising a movie that starred her. Apparently, the thief discovered the video after he stole the camera and advertised it as a movie.
- Leg Cling: The original movie poster and home video covers, being a parody of classic Frank Frazetta Conan the Barbarian illustrations (in fact, they were designed by Frazetta's fellow Conan illustrator Boris Vallejo).
- Lingerie Scene: Christie Brinkley
- Magical Computer: Clark plans out the trip on one. While the car avatar runs through the planned route, Rusty gets bored, picks up a joystick, and makes a Pac-Man kind of thing try to eat it. Clark takes evasive maneuvers with the car avatar. Audrey then defends the car from Rusty's attack by controlling some space alien shooter thing with another joystick.
- The Mountains of Illinois: The Griswolds visit relatives in Coolidge, Kansas, with mountains visible in some shots. While Coolidge is about 10 miles from the Colorado state line, you can't see mountains until you're about 100 to 125 miles inside Colorado at best. Most of eastern Colorado is about as flat and empty as you'll ever see.
- Also noticeable at the very beginning when they go to the car dealership in "Chicago." Some palm trees and distant mountains are visible in the background.
- Mr. Alt Disney: Roy Walley.
- Ms. Fanservice: Christie Brinkley.
- Nausea Dissonance: After the Griswolds discover their dog had peed on their sandwiches, everyone starts spitting their sandwich out except Aunt Edna, who just keeps eating.
- Negative Continuity: The film series is built on this. Nothing that ever happens in previous films affects the later ones. Ever. And the films feel free to contradict each other. Rule of Funny is in full play.
- Ramp Jump: Clark has an unintentional one in the middle of the Arizona desert that pretty much destroys the Family Truckster, though that doesn't stop him from admiring his "work."
Clark (proudly, under his breath): "Fifty feet!"
- Road Movie
- Sanity Slippage: What happens to Clark when their trip proves to be All for Nothing.
- It started to slip when the family complains about the terrible experience they had so far and just wanna go home. He tells them they're all crazy and they're gonna continue and they'll have fun.
Rusty: (worried, puts his hand on his shoulder) Dad, are you okay?
Clark: DON'T TOUCH!!
- Shower Scene: Thank you, Beverly.
- Spiritual Successor: Little Miss Sunshine
- Technology Marches On: Today, finding out if the park is closed would be as simple as checking its web page, and because of the prevalence of GPS, getting lost driving across the country would be much more difficult.
- Thirsty Desert: Clark wandering through Monument Valley.
- Two-Person Pool Party: It's broken up before anything serious can happen, though.
- Clark actually gets two in the first movie. One with Christie and only a few minutes later, one with Beverly. Both are cut short because the water is too cold.
- What A Drag: That poor dog. Sure, it was a nasty sandwich-pisser, but it didn't deserve that.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Ellen calls Clark out for the attitude in the car after they delivered Aunt Edna's body, and for the way he acted on the trip. Though, Clark is annoyed by her negativity and go to a bar to cool off.
Ellen: Where are you going?
Clark: What do you care?!
- The Windy City: The Griswolds' home, and where their trek begins.