“I found out long ago, it’s a long day the holiday road…”
Although it feels like the Griswold family has always been with us, it was 35 years ago today we were introduced to the comedic clan when National Lampoon’s Vacation originally hit theaters. Written by John Hughes (whose hilarious screenplay was inspired by a piece he wrote about his own upbringing in National Lampoon magazine) and directed by Harold Ramis, the film was an immediate smash at the box office and is largely considered to be one of the best comedies of the 1980s. It’s easy to see why. The story of a calamity-plagued vacation where nothing goes right is immediately recognizable to anyone who ever had their dream family getaway turn into a comedy of errors.
Although a fantastic script and great direction can go a long way, these things are nothing without winning performances…something that National Lampoon’s Vacation has more than its fair share of. Chevy Chase has never been better than in his role as the well-meaning but utterly bumbling Clerk W. Griswold. Other standouts include Beverly D’Angelo as Clark’s long-suffering wife, Ellen, Anthony Michael Hall as Rusty, Imogene Coca as the quirky Aunt Edna, Randy Quaid as the bumpkin Cousin Eddie, Christie Brinkley as Clark’s dream girl, and John Candy as the Walley World security guard.
National Lampoon’s Vacation is a film packed with iconic moments — from the hysterically dark demise of Aunt Edna to Clark’s assault upon Marty Moose. Despite being 35 years old today, it has lost none of its comedic impact. Although the film’s various sequels, including the holiday classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and a well-received 2015 remake are not without their fans, none of these subsequent efforts quite recapture the comedic brilliance of the original.
Vacationing with the Griswolds may be filled with misadventure, but man is it so worth it!
Let us know your favorite moment from National Lampoon’s Vacation below, and you can read John Hughes’ original story, Vacation ’58, which inspired the film here.
Previously on MovieFanFare: