Saturday, December 11, 2010

#127. National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

DVD Synopsis: Everything is planned, packed – and about to go hilariously wrong. The Griswolds are going on vacation. In the driver's seat is Clark Griswold Chevy Chase), and Everyman eager to share the open road and the wonders of family togetherness. Myriad mishaps, crude kin (Randy Quaid), encounters with a temptress (Christie Brinkley), financial woes, Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) on the roof, one security guard (John Candy) and 2,460 miles later, it's a wonder the Griswolds are together. There's never been a family vacation like it. Except maybe yours. And that helps explain why National Lampoon's Vacation remains so popular... and so very funny.

With all due respect to his work in Caddyshack and Fletch, I believe Clark Griswold is the role Chevy Chase was born to play. 

Clark is a family man; he loves his wife and kids, and wants to spend as much time with them on this vacation as he possibly can (which is why they’re driving to the West Coast instead of flying there). Clark is also a bubbling cauldron of anger and frustration, a guy who’s not just disappointed with his status in life…he’s pissed off about it. Behind Clark’s effervescent smile and happy-go-lucky demeanor lies a time bomb of repressed emotions, just waiting to explode. Chevy Chase captures Clark’s duality to a tee.  You buy his cheery optimism in the early scenes, when he happily drives hundreds of miles out of the way to show his family the world’s third largest ball of twine, and you can see the “crazies” creeping in behind his eyes when his ‘perfect’ vacation encounters one hilariously tragic twist after another.  

Following National Lampoon’s Vacation in 1983, Chase would further explore Clark’s opposing nuances in three sequels, with mixed results.  But there’s nothing mixed about the original.  National Lampoon’s Vacation is a funny, funny film

…and a teeny bit disturbing as well.

Please leave a comment below... I'd love to hear from you



Tom said...

Ha ha ha. That trailer is great.

Dave Becker said...

Tom: Thanks for the comment. Yeah, the trailer is pretty funny, and what's really something is it doesn't even touch on some of the film's funniest moments.

Klaus said...

"I believe Clark Griswold is the role Chevy Chase was born to play".

Agreed! and one of the funniest movies ever. I cared much for Chevy on SNL - his movies are incredibly funny - and this one is his the finest.

Dave Becker said...

@Jlaus: Chase was definitely good in CADDYSHACK, and even better in FLETCH, but for me, he'll ALWAYS be Clark Griswold.

I caught CHRISTMAS VACATION for the first time in a while this past Holiday, and while it's much broader than the original, Chase still did a fine job.