NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION. Directed by Harold Ramis; written by John Hughes; produced by Matty Simmons for Warner Bros. Starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo. Rated R.
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If you haven't already taken your family vacation this year, you probably shouldn't see this movie. It just might make you prefer to stay home.
Everything imaginable goes wrong for the hapless Griswolds as they drive from Chicago to Los Angeles. The adventures of the open road have been celebrated in many American movies. But, within recent memory at least, there hasn't been one as hilarious as Vacation.
Father Clark (Chase) is determined to have a perfect vacation. He even plans the itinerary using his home computer. But he can't foresee all the traveler's nightmares awaiting them along the road.
But through the prosaic (lost luggage and credit cards) to the bizarre (dead pets and relatives), Clark manages to keep his maddeningly cheerful demeanor.
Chase is just as funny here as in his early Saturday Night Live days. Although he uses some of his familiar bits—funny faces and clumsiness—he has also acquired the restraint needed by the central character of a full-length film. Vacation revolves around him, and he makes it work.
D'Angelo is a good foil for Chase. She manages to be both dingy and down-to-earth. The kids are capable straight people and seem realistic, most of the time. And the various eccentrics the Griswolds meet along the way are all first-rate.
In any movie where the gags come as thick and fast as in Vacation, not all of them are going to work, but the hits definitely outnumber the misses.
Vacation is well within the National Lampoon tradition of irreverence to everything. For this reason, the movie may offend some viewers. The R rating was given for the raunchy language. But for those who enjoy occasionally black satire and zany humor, it is a fine entertainment.
August 3, 1983