Vacation (Harold Ramis, 1983)
The Griswold family's cross-country drive to the Walley World theme park proves to be much more arduous than they ever anticipated.
For almost twenty years I’ve been watching year after year Christmas Vacation and saying to whomever that cares to listen that it is my favorite Christmas movie. But I have never seen the other movies of the franchise and even the original Vacation film that will have some kind of a remake this summer. Since this summer my wife and my daughter will embark on a car trip, not to Walley World but to Wildwood New Jersey, I had the urge to finally watch Vacation and see what it was all about.
Back in 1983, it had a huge box-office success and quickly became a cult classic. Still to this day I can’t figure why I haven’t seen this film on TV before. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) along their two kids Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and Audrey (Dana Barron) will go on a trip from Chicago to Los Angeles to the famous Walley World park, a ripoff of Disney Land.
Many moments of the John Hughes story are repeated in his Christmas Vacation and makes them like trademark jokes of the franchise. The infamous visit to cousin Eddie and Catherine will become stellar moments just like the pool scene with the girl in the red Ferrari.
The couple of Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo works well because Clark wants to be a good father, a good husband but he is so lefty and wants everything to be so damn perfect that everything is screwed up and she embarks on his mad ideas with a certain disdain but she loves her goofer husband so much that it reminds us of all of our dads and how we are as dads too.
The real genius behind the Vacation franchise is John Hughes and his writing makes it the best imperfect family. It reminds us how the road is half the fun and how the ups and downs makes it for great family memories. Sure it is reflecting a very late 1950’s idealized America but nostalgia and memories are hard to split at some point.
Overall, Vacation is a fun ride with the Griswold family and may or may not have influenced another well known American family : The Simpsons. I think that many elements link those families together and I wish that the Vacation series would be as everlasting as The Simpsons and maybe keep a level of quality that the cartoon did not achieved past a certain number of years.