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YMMV / National Lampoon's Vacation

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Clark Griswold is a psychopath with an uncontrollable temper. He commits several crimes in the film, including holding amusement park employees hostage just so he and his family can have the trip he thinks they deserve and yet does not get arrested. He even points a fake gun at the cops! Clark almost cheats on Ellen which is he is Easily Forgiven for. Clark kills a dog—albeit on accident—and when his family suggests that they have suffered enough and collectively decide to go home, he lashes out at them and forces them on the trip against their wills. Clark usually has a violent outburst in his movies that is always followed by him breaking the law which makes one wonder if he is mentally ill and then makes you wonder what other things Ellen has witnessed him do over the years...
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  • Awesome Music: The lounge music that plays in the hotel bar scene.
  • Director Displacement: John Hughes wrote the film, yet it was directed by Harold Ramis.
  • Ear Worm: Lindsey Buckingham's "Holiday Road", which serves as the movie's theme song, as well as June Pointer's "Little Boy Sweet," which serves as Christie Brinkley's theme.
  • First Installment Wins: Helped by intense Sequelitis, from which only Christmas Vacation is found to get a pass.
    • The 2015 sequel/reboot is getting this reaction too with people who dislike the larger amounts of crude humor in comparison to the original, and how the film is essentially just a kinda-sorta remake of the original (with one of the film's own trailers lampshading this fact) with much more heavy-handed attempts at comedy; highlighted further by the fact the 2015 movie recreates almost shot for shot the famous "flirting with a hot woman on the highway" scene, only this one has her brutally killed in a head-on collision, which many viewers found to be a Comedic Sociopathy bit that leaned too heavily on the "sociopathy" part.
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  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In the post-meltdown scene, Ellen reprimands Clark and tells him that she's afraid that he might kill the kids and/or hold up a McDonald's, the scene's become hard to laugh at over the years due to a real-life shooting at a San Ysidro McDonald's less than a year later.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Post-recession, it's rather harder to laugh at Eddie's money troubles.
  • Heartwarming Moments: After being typically antagonistic as brothers and sisters are, when Audrey freaks out about Aunt Edna's death, Rusty comforts her without a second thought.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Clark's line about how he'll wake up one day to find the kids are grown up is quite prophetic. Over three more films and fifteen years, the kids kept getting recast to stay roughly the same age, but then suddenly we get an adult Rusty going on his own vacation in the 2015 film.
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    • All those complaints against the idea of going to Walley World by car instead of by plane became funnier after the 2015 film revealed that Rusty became an airplane pilot.
    • Walley World being closed when the family arrives is much funnier since Six Flags Magic Mountain, the park used as Walley World, is now open 365 days a year (even on national holidays).
  • Hollywood Homely: The pointless subplot about Clark lusting after Christie Brinkley's character seems even more puerile given that Ellen is played by the stunning Beverly D'Angelo.
  • Incest Yay Shipping: Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall as Audrey and Russ seem closer than a normal set of siblings would be, which led to speculation they had an off-screen relationship.
  • Nausea Fuel: The family at one point stop off at a picnic area to have some lunch. As they're eating the sandwiches, they notice they're soggy. And then it hit them that Aunt Edna's dog urinated on the food. The family is understandably disgusted but Edna just shrugs and continues eating. Ugh.
  • Values Dissonance: The whole sequence in the black neighborhood was pushing things even at the time, and comes off as horrendously racist now (though it's actually toned down from the equivalent scene in the original short story). Even Harold Ramis regretted the scene.
  • What an Idiot!: The whole mess of a vacation would have been avoided had Clark (or even the far more rational Ellen) made a simple phone call to Walley World to confirm it was open for the season; they would have learned it was "closed for repairs." (Then again, phone call equals no movie and no fun for us, the viewers.)
    • Unless whatever happened to make Walley World need the repairs took place after the Griswolds departed or Clark decided to drive them somewhere else.
      • It's also been stated the horrific vacation would have been averted if they'd just taken a plane flight.


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