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Monday 23 February 2015

Burl reviews Vacation! (1983)

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, it’s Burl here taking a ride on the Vacation kick! Ha ha, holiday road! Yes, you’ve got to know that I’ve just watched that famous film Vacation, or as it’s more formally known, National Lampoon’s Vacation! It’s an 80s comedy film I’ve always mildly enjoyed, and this time around I mildly enjoyed it once again! Ha ha!
I think on the whole Christmas Vacation gets more love from the people, but I prefer this installment myself, in part at least because of the summery setting! But I’m also fonder of this one because I enjoyed it as a youth, and never bothered seeing the Christmas one until much later, ha ha!
Anyway, the plot is pretty straightforward: family man Clark W. Griswold takes his lady-wife and two children on a road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles in order to visit Walley World, the famous amusement park, but encounter many difficulties along the way! Ha ha, that’s it! But it’s not a narrative-driven picture, after all, and never claims to be! It’s a film of moments, some of which are funny, some of which are lamely xenophobic or ethnocentric! But it has a carefree tone throughout that keeps it pretty fun, and also features the multi-headlighted Family Truckster, a made-up car, which is something I always like to see in a movie! Ha ha, this particular auto is a bit more benign and a bit less resilient than The Car, but not much!
Chevy Chase, a.k.a. Fletch, plays the dad of course, and Beverly D’Angelo of The Sentinel is his lady-wife! These two did of course stick through the whole series, but, ha ha, the kids changed every dang time, because of, you know, puberty! Here the small fry are Anthony Michael Hall, well-known for his role in Out of Bounds, and Dana Barron of Heaven Help Us! Everyone in the family does a terrific job, particularly Chase, and it’s easy to see why he was such a popular comedy star even if he did many terrible movies and nobody liked him much personally!
Frankly there’s a pretty great supporting cast too, with lots of fine comedy cameos! Randy Quaid of The Paper appears as the famous Cousin Eddie, who later got his own spin-off movie which I will never see; Norval Jones himself, Eddie Bracken, plays the Disney-like Roy Walley; James Keach, looking very much like he later would in Moving Violations appears as a motorcycle cop; Imogen Coca is an ornery granny; Eugene Levy from Armed and Dangerous is the car salesman who sells Chevy the Family Truckster, and John Candy from Summer Rental plays a Walley World security guard! It’s a pretty impressive aggregation of 80s talent, with a few underused old ringers tossed in!
It’s a sunny and likeable picture that could have gone a bit deeper maybe, plumbed the depths for laffs a bit more! Still, the uncomplicated style of director Harold “Caddyshack” Ramis suits the material well, ha ha, and the movie is ultimately a painless way to spend 96 minutes! Ha ha, I’m going to give Vacation two flattened moose snouts!


  1. The first two Vacations were OK, better than what came after (I was never sold on the Christmas one), but you know the best thing about them? It's up at the top of the review, those magnificent posters by Boris Vallejo. I miss a really well-designed poster like that, with real artistry in the paintings.

    1. Ha ha, I certainly agree about the posters! I guess that one was meant to fit in with all the barbarian pictures of the day, and our equivalent would be making a comedy poster look like a superhero movie! Not as good if you ask me, ha ha!