National Lampoon’s Vacation
Good morning, y’all. Pumpkin pie for breakfast, turkey sandwiches for lunch and dressing and gravy for dinner. You just can’t find anything wrong with Thanksgiving leftovers. Now, I know for all of the people trying to keep their waist size under the circumference of the Hadron Collider, it’s not a good thing. But for the rest of us folks, it’s the gift that just keeps on bringing joy. Every day is a holiday until the leftovers run out.
Since we’re talking about holidays, I came up with an unusual choice for date night, “National Lampoon’s Vacation”. The Brits call going on vacation, going on “holiday”, and so when I saw my old betamax tape of “Vacation”, I thought it would be a natural. There’s no denying that Mulva and I need a vacation, and watching the Griswolds provided a much needed respite from the grind that is Thanksgiving week. Lest you think that I’m unappreciative of all of the family influence we’ve had this last week, let me just say that there’s a difference between your immediate family and your extended family. The writers of Vacation seemed to understand this truism very well as things just seemed to get way wackier when another family member was introduced into the plot.
Speaking of the writers of “Vacation”, the original story for the movie was taken from a John Hughes story called “Vacation ’58”. Yeah, the John Hughes of “Pretty In Pink” fame. “Vacation” is the project that got the ball rolling for Hughes and provided him with an immediate hit to springboard his other projects. Other alumnae from National Lampoon fame include producer Matty Simmons, and director Harold Ramis.
Casting Chevy Chase as the patriarch, Clark Griswold was absolute genius. Chevy Chase plays an “everyman” about as well as you can, and still manages to milk almost every scene for laughs. The opening scenes at the car dealership telegraph to the audience that Clark is going to be caught constantly between the reality of his undertaking and trying to look like the optimum dad, and husband. The selection of the automobile is the precursor to the hilarity that is presented by a dad that has been hoodwinked by the advertising world and is willing to double down on his choice.
Clark Griswold is an “all in” kind of guy, and he is determined to give his family the vacation of a lifetime at “Wally World”. Now, “Wally World” is actually Disneyland, but we have to use some parallels to get there. Wally is a moose, not a mouse. Wally is also a nickname for Walt Disney. Like Disneyland, Wally World is set in Southern California, providing the perfect distance for an epic family journey from Chicago. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to stop along the way and visit with some extended family. Veterans, Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid and Jane Krakowski add to the hilarity. What to do with Aunt Edna’s body is a family primer for all families contemplating a trip to Disneyland.
Don’t think the hilarity ends just because the Griswolds finally make it to Wally World. Now it’s time for the family to face some real adversity in the form of John Candy as the park police. I know, you’re thinking , “all of this and they saved John Candy for the last?” And the answer would be “yes”. So hold out to your hats, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Oh, I forgot to mention, there’s a skinny dipping scene with Christie Brinkley, in case you’re interested.
National Lampoons “Vacation” was just the tonic my soul needed, check it out.