Having it all planned down to the last detail, the American, well-meaning paterfamilias, Clark Griswold, and his supportive wife, Ellen, take their two teenage children, Rusty and Audrey, on a cross-country trip from the suburbs of Chicago, all the way to sunny California's Walley World amusement park. However, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and before long, Ellen's cousin, Catherine, and her husband, Eddie, enter the picture, and Clark is on the verge of blowing a gasket. Now, Roy Walley's wonderful park seems so far away, and even though the prospect of a clandestine meeting with the alluring blonde in a fast, 1981 Ferrari 308 GTSi sounds tempting, Clark must do the right thing, and find the promised land. How hard can it be to have the perfect vacation?Written by
Imogene Coca originally turned down the part of Aunt Edna, because she did not think she could portray such a mean character. Even during filming, she was often concerned that she was being too mean to her fellow cast members. See more »
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. See more »
Stay in the car! It's hot and dangerous out here.
Don't you tell me what to do, I'll do what I want! I should never have come on this trip with you, I should have taken an airplane... and he...
[pointing to Clark]
He shouldn't even have a license to drive an automobile! He should be BEHIND BARS!
SIT down and SHUT UP! Move outta that seat and I'll split your lip!
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During the credits, you see snapshots of group photos of where and who the Griswalds met on the vacation. The last photo shows you how they got home, on a plane. See more »
Some prints play different music during Christie Brinkley's scenes. See more »
Music by Johannes Brahms
[Plays just before Clark wakes up from sleeping behind the wheel.] See more »
"I'm On A Pilgrimage To See A Moose"
"Getting there is half the fun", says bland family man Clark, head of the bland suburban family, the Griswolds. He's rationalizing why the family will drive from Illinois, instead of fly, to Wally World, a moose-centered family amusement park in California. What makes this film enjoyable is that the Griswolds are so typical of banal American suburban family values.
Clark (Chevy Chase) is a good-natured sap, gullibly idealistic, and conforming. His meek wife (well played by Beverly D'Angelo) looks up to Clark. Their two teenage kids are dull blockheads, patterned after their dull parents. The boy wears ugly dental braces.
Their mode of travel is a prehistoric, humorously ugly, putrid green station wagon with cheesy brown panels. The Griswolds blast off with unlimited optimism and good-natured anticipation of the fun they will have at Wally World. But the optimism gradually fades and is replaced by grim determination after a series of on-the-road disasters that make a mockery of idealism.
The film's humor lies in its absurd plot situations, and in the dialogue. At a cookout, a down-on-his-luck Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) treats the Griswolds to backyard burgers, then remarks to Clark: "I don't know why they call this stuff hamburger helper. It does just fine by itself".
Casting is appropriate. Overall acting trends humorously exaggerated, consistent with the satire. Performances by Imogene Coca and John Candy add to the comedy. The bouncy song "Holiday Road" opens the film with a series of vintage American postcards in tandem with the opening credits.
My only reservation is that some of the plot contrivances are a bit over-the-top. The writers seem to be trying a little too hard.
"Vacation" is a satire on the banality of the traditional American summer ritual, and therefore thematically rich. Production values are fine. Though not perfect, this film is worth watching.
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