National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Chevy Chase, Cousin Eddie, Wallyworld


Movie Info

Movie Name:  National Lampoon’s Vacation

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  July 29, 1983

MPAA Rating:  R


A family arrested together gets incarcerated together

The Griswolds are going on vacation. Clark (Chevy Chase) has a new station wagon and is loading up his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), his son Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall), and his daughter Audrey (Dana Barron) for a trip from Chicago to Walley World in California. As the trip progresses, they face missing credit cards, death, robberies, threats of infidelity, and probably the biggest danger in Ellen’s brother Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his family. With Walley World as their only hope, Clark is out to give his family the best vacation ever.

Directed by Harold Ramis, National Lampoon’s Vacation (often just called Vacation) continued Chevy Chase’s film success he found in Caddyshack. The movie spun out of the National Lampoon magazine and was based on a John Hughes story called Vacation ’58 in which his family went to Disneyland.  Vacation started a franchise that produced a number of sequels.


Sorry Folks, the Park’s Closed!

National Lampoon’s Vacation is just funny. It is Chevy Chase at his finest and way before he became a bitter old man. With every Vacation, the kids have been recast, but I always consider Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron the real Rusty and Audrey, plus Imogene Coca gives a great turn as the doomed Aunt Edna.  The movie keeps trucking with a great chain of events and it is evenly balanced. The group really does seem to function as a family and the whole premise of the thinly Disneyland veiled Walley World is just funny (plus you get a nice John Candy bit part as a by-the-book security guard who becomes a hostage).

National Lampoon’s Vacation first outing is an R-Rated feature and a bit edgier than the other. There is nudity (surprisingly not Christie Brinkley’s nude swimming but Beverly ‘s shower) and more swearing than some of the other Vacations.  The humor is often a bit more adult.


Cousin Vicki always gets the best stuff

One of the more adult factors of National Lampoon’s Vacation is Cousin Eddie. Eddie is presented in this film as a backwards, possibly incestuous relative of Ellen. In later films, he’s presented as backwards, but a likable idiot. I always find it hard to see Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation without thinking of Cousin Vicki (Jane Krakowski) telling Audrey that she learned about French kissing from her father (Vicki:  “I’m going steady, and I French kiss? Audrey:  So, everybody does that. Vicki:  But, Daddy says I’m the best at it”…creepy).

Vacation is a fun movie and, along with The Jerk, is one of the comedies that I can watch over-and-over again. It is stupid humor done smartly and has the cast that can pull it off. If you’ve never seen National Lampoon’s Vacation, and you are a fan of comedy, it is a must.  National Lampoon’s Vacation was followed by National Lampoon’s European Vacation in 1985.

Related Links:

National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985)

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Vegas Vacation (1997)

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2:  Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure (2003)

Vacation (2015)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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