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National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) Poster

Goofs

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

Right after Eddie tells Clark that Daisy Mabel was born without a tongue, we can hear Clark say, "Oh," and then laugh. However, Clark does not appear to be laughing, or even smiling.
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Character error 

Immediately before the Family Truckster crashes through the "road closed" in the dessert, Edna can be seen gasping before Clark and Rusty, possibly a cue mistake. Following which, Ellen clearly can be seen laughing as she leans over for cover.
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Continuity 

Beverly D'Angelo's hairstyle changes quite dramatically towards the end of the film (at around the time that Aunt Edna is dropped off at Flagstaff), from wavy to a poodle perm.
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Through the course of the film, Rusty is about the same height as Ellen. But during the Walley World scenes, he is taller than her. This is because these scenes were shot after principal photography.
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When Clark hooks the dog's leash onto the driver-side back bumper, it actually comes unhooked when the dog dashes at Clark and rests on top of the bumper. In the next scenes, the dog is dragged to his death because of Clark leaving the leash hooked around the bumper.
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When the kids discover Clark and Ellen under the blanket at the first motel, Clark emerges with a pair of beige panties. At the beginning of that scene when Ellen got into bed, they were patterned.
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As the Griswolds are leaving Chicago, the exterior, overhead shots of the Truckster show downtown Chicago, with high-rise skyscrapers in the background. But the "in the car" views show a lower-class industrial area.
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When Clark is getting undressed to swim with the "Ferrari Girl" he pulls his boxers off, yet when he jumps in and is swimming you can clearly see he's wearing flesh-colored briefs.
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If the rides were running, then someone would be operating them, but the Griswalds and the guards were the only ones in the park.
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The "Family Truckster" has windows that roll up, however, in the scene immediately after Clark drives the car off the closed road, Aunt Edna's window goes down smoothly and automatically.
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After the accident in the desert when the axles on the car are bent, we see the family driving down the road, yet when the camera pulls back for a full view of the car only the driver is present.
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The position of Ellen's head when Clark sees the girl in the Ferrari for the second time changes between shots.
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Graffiti is spray painted on both sides of the "Family truckster" in one scene, but in the rest of the movie, the spray paint on the driver's side is gone but the graffiti on the passenger side stays throughout the entire movie.
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When Clark pulls up the trip route on the TV screen, the line representing their route is shown on the full US map traveling through the state of Oklahoma, but when Clark zooms in to show Day 1, the route line is shown going through Kansas, which would make more sense, since the Griswolds would be stopping to visit Cousin Eddie and his family in Kansas on their way to Walley World.
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When they get out of the family "truckster" at Wally World the line of cones is way off to the right but when they start running towards the park they are running right next to them and you can see the car parked in the distance right next to them so the car changed positions.
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After the "shower scare" scene, Ellen comes out of the bathroom wearing an unbuttoned pajama top (which she appears to only try to button the top button as she brushes her hair), but in the next shot when she crawls into bed, her pajama top is fully buttoned down.
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In the saloon in Dodge City Audrey sits down on a stool at the bar twice.
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When the family enter the Walley World car park, there are no cars, yet when we see the car in another shot, there is a white car next to it.
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Just after Clark nearly collides head on with the truck, a red truck can be seen following the Griswald's car. The red truck's distance behind the Griswald's car changes inconsistently between shots.
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As Clark and Ellen enter the office, Clark opens the door for Ellen using his right arm. As the view switches to an interior shot of them coming in, Clark is holding the door open with his left hand, with his left arm over Ellen's head.
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Throughout the course of the film, the condition of the Family Truckster changes. Damage to the car will often disappear at one point but reappear in subsequent scenes.
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The rear view mirror keeps appearing and disappearing during scenes.
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When the family first gets to Walley World and find out its closed, Ellen's belt is above the loop. After they leave and return, her belt is through the loop.
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When checking into the campsite, Clark and Ellen swap positions between shots.
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At the start of the movie when Clark pulls into the car yard in his old car' the shot shows him stopping in the left lane of the yard's slip road. In the next shot however when he gets out, the car is now in the opposite lane and further forward.
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As family gets into the truckster to start their trip there is no luggage on top of the car. As soon as Clark puts the car in reverse several pieces of the luggage are stripped of the roof of the car after striking the top of the garage door.
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Clark's glasses after the accident, while sharing a beer with Rusty.
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The motorcycle cop orders Griswold out of the car. At that time, the cop has his sunglasses in his hand. As Griswold is exiting, the exterior shot shows the sunglasses tucked into the cop's shirt button.
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Crew or equipment visible 

Camera and operator visible in one of the rides at Wally World.
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During the scene where Ellen is praying for Edna's soul, a mike is clearly visible from the bottom of the screen. In fact Audrey stares at it for a moment.
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Clark and the Motorcycle Cop are talking in close-up at the rear of the vehicle. A movie light is clearly visible reflecting off the cop's helmet as the sun is shining in a different place on the helmet.
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Errors in geography 

During the opening credits postcard montage, one of the cards shows a billboard advertising "Gatorland Zoo, 6 miles away", and the post card heading mentions the billboard was photographed at St. Augustine, Florida. Gatorland Zoo is located in Kissimmee, Florida, which is over 120 miles away from St. Augustine. A few postcards later, another card appears from Gatorland Zoo, depicting the "alligator mouth" entrance, and that card is correctly headlined as Kissimmee, Florida.
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During the St. Louis part, they show the Griswolds crossing the bridge into Missouri and *then* getting lost in what they title "East St. Louis." East St. Louis is actually in Illinois, so they would have encountered it before crossing the bridge. This has apparently been corrected in the video version.
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Mountains and palm trees near Chicago, in the opening scene when they are pulling into the car lot.
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When Clark first stops for gas and rips the license plate cover off trying to find the gas tank, this is at the Little America hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona, where some other scenes were filmed in the movie. This is a truck stop/ hotel, and the garage in the background is very distinctive, as are the ponderosa pines across the street. This is somehow set between Chicago and East St Louis, while Flagstaff is in the middle of the world's largest ponderosa pine forest. In the Trivia section, it places this gas station in Los Angeles.
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Tall mountains can be barely seen in the distance when the Griswalds arrive at and drive away from Cousin Eddie and Catherine's house & farm. There are no tall mountains in Kansas (the highest elevation is only over 4,000 feet above sea level in Wallace County, two counties to the North of Hamilton County, where the town of Coolidge is). The mountains visible in the background are in fact the Wet Mountains near Pueblo, Colorado, where the farm used to film Eddie's house was located.
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When they stop for lunch, the rest area is just east of South Fork, CO. They leave and drive west over Wolf Creek Pass then down towards Pagosa Springs. You can see The Inn at the Pass at the bottom. But they spend the night in tents in South Fork. Did they get turned around at the pass?
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As the Griswolds are driving through Chicago, operating oil derricks can be seen in the background outside the vehicle's passenger windows.
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They are clearly in Colorado (mountains) and Clark says: "Hey, hey, easy kids. Everybody in the car. Boat leaves in two minutes ... Or perhaps you don't want to see the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away?" The second largest ball of twine is located in Cawker City, Kansas. The largest ball of twine is located in Darwin, Minn. Both of which are clearly east of Colorado and not west, which is where the Griswolds are headed.
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In the postcards opening, just after Christie Brinkley's name fades offscreen, the postcard for the "Mystery Spot" lists its location as "St. Ignance, Michigan." The Mystery Spot is located in St. Ignace, not St. Ignance.
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Factual errors 

When the Grizwolds are "lost" in St. Louis, the wide overhead shot clearly shows the Family Truckster exiting onto Interstate 70 West. This is the correct route for their trip, and they wouldn't have been lost if they took it.
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When purchasing a car in Illinois, either your license plates are transferred from your old car, or you are issued a License Applied For sticker to be posted in the window of your car (at that time). The Griswold's old car is driven off and crushed without removing the plates, and there is no sticker on the new car. They would be stopped and ticketed by the first cop that spotted them.
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Miscellaneous 

When Clark and the girl (Christie Brinkley) go skinny-dipping in the motel swimming pool, we hear her voice laughing and shouting, while on-screen, Ellen is swimming underwater and could not possibly have done either.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

In the scene in Kansas when Rusty is asking his cousin Dale whether he had "Pac Man", Dale says "no", but in the very next scene in Dale's room, a portable Pac Man game can be clearly seen on the bed behind Rusty. However, this is Rusty'S Pac Man game. He brought it along on the trip and it can be seen in the Truckster many times throughout the film. So Dale saying he does not have a Pac Man game is correct.
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When Clark and Ellen are doing the dishes, you can see Ellen just brush the leftover food into the sink and then hand the plate to Clark. She does not wash the dish. Clark is in front of an open dishwasher but he just wipes the dirty dishes with a towel and puts them in the cabinet. This type of subtle joke is a hallmark of Chevy Chase, and was done intentionally as a joke.
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Clark comments on "real tomato ketchup," not "homemade," so seeing a bottle of commercial ketchup in Eddie's kitchen is OK.
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Revealing mistakes 

When Clark falls onto the skeleton when wandering in the desert, a jaw spring can be seen in the back of the skull. This is used in the lab to keep the jaw shut, but obviously wouldn't be on a skull in the middle of nowhere.
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When the Ferrari is next to Clark, you can hear it revving, but Brinkley's left leg it up and her foot obviously not on the clutch to allow the revving.
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After the Griswold's get the truckster fixed and drive away, you can see that the wheels are wobbly. In later scenes the wheels are fine.
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In the open matte version of the film, in the scene in which Ellen is in the shower, she can be seen wearing slightly pulled down underwear or possibly bikini bottoms.
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At the end of the movie there are 2 security guards. One stays behind at the front entrance and the other is taken with the family on all the rides. There is no one left to operate the rides, yet the rides seem to start all on their own.
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Towards the end of the film, when the Griswald's reach Wally World, Clark tells Laskey that they have an appointment. When the shot switches to Laskey it's clear that he's "reading" off a blank legal note pad.
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In the scene when Ellen says that Aunt Edna is dead, in the first cut you can see Edna blinking while her eyelids are shut.
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When Aunt Edna is "dead" on the back seat you can clearly see her closed eyes twitching in one frame.
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As the Family Truckster barrels through an intersection with everyone inside supposedly asleep, you can see the driver sitting up straight.
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When the Griswolds are leaving Cousin Norm's house, you can see the breathing movements of whoever is under the blanket posing as the dead Aunt Edna in the patio chair.
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In several frontal shots of the Griswolds driving along, there is no windshield on their car.
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Obvious stunt driver for Clark 'asleep' at the wheel before they arrive at the first motel.
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When the family is riding the Buccaneer, you can see the ride operator. They are supposed to be at the park with only the Guards there. Obviously, someone has to operate the rides, but if the park is supposed to be closed, then the employees are not supposed to be there.
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When the Griswolds fall asleep in the car, Clark awakes to see the predicament they're in. When his car is apparently in DRIVE, the car goes in REVERSE without stopping and/or changing gears.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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