I always try and have a variety in this blind spot series. Last month I had an aggressively artsy movie with Jeanne Dielman, this month I have a classic comedy with National Lampoon’s Vacation and next month a foreign film Tokyo Story. This variety keeps the series interesting for me and hopefully for you the reader as well. As a Christmas movie fanatic I had of course seen the National Lampoons Christmas Vacation many times and enjoyed that but had never seen the original Vacation film. Now that I have seen it, I’d say it isn’t bad but it is aggressively average. Perhaps it was more cutting edge in 1983 when it was released but honestly these days I’d recommend watching A Goofy Movie over this. It has all the same tropes but funnier and more endearing.
In National Lampoon’s Vacation we follow the Griswold family as they travel across the country to try and visit Walley World (an obvious Disneyland copycat.) If family shenanigans are your jam then you will probably love this. There are all kinds of gags involving crazy hotel rooms, weird relatives and of course lots of problems with their poor beleaguered station-wagon.
I guess the one difference with this film in 1983 and now is it would almost certainly been rated pg13 these days instead of R. There are definitely some raunchy jokes, sexual situations and uncouth behavior as well as one family member flat out dying on the way to Wally World. We also have Chevy Chase holding John Candy up by a gun so they can go to the park. I don’t think you’d see that in our Dad character today.
Pretty much the whole cast is good in this with the likes of Beverly D’Angelo, Imogene Coca, a young Anthony Michael Hall and more. We also get loads of cameos from Eugene Levy, James Keach and more.
Where National Lampoon’s Vacation loses me is 2 very outdated scenes. The first is when the Griswold’s get lost on the ‘wrong side of town’ and they get harassed by the Black citizens, given bad directions and have all their hubcaps removed. This is in poor taste even in 1983. Also a scene where Keach pulls the Griswold’s over and proceeds to harass them as a police officer despite admitting they did nothing wrong. It’s inappropriate and frankly not funny.
Other than that, like I said, this movie is completely average. If you are dying for a dysfunctional family comedy it’s ok but nothing special. I think A Goofy Movie is much better and that you can watch on Disney Plus.