National Lampoon's Vacation [MOVIE REVIEW]

Seeing as I would never spend actual money to see the new 'Vacation' on the big screen I instead opted to revisit the original film. I was actually not a big fan of it when I first saw it as 'Christmas Vacation' was more my jam and to this day has remained one of my favorite christmas movies. But how does the original film hold up?

I am not going to beat around the bush so you start thinking I hate this movie so let me just get this out of the way first, 'Nation Lampoon's Vacation' is a very good movie. It has got some great acting from the leads and they all play great characters that definitely deserved more movies about them. I also really like the plot as it is a brilliant framework to hang multiple funny scenes and gags on. The problem for me though is that I barely laughed once during the entire movie. Sure of course there were some scenes were I chuckled but for most of the movie I just sat there and enjoyed the movie like it was a comedy without jokes - which probably sounds a lot harsher than I intended. Remember; I like this movie, it just does not hold up as much as 'Christmas Vacation' did and I cannot imagine a lot of people laughing at the jokes in here anymore. If I were to show this to my friends (who have not seen any of the Griswold films and are not really big movie buffs who can acknowledge a movies accolades despite the lack of laugh out loud moments), they would probably end up bored out of their minds.

In terms of Harold Ramis directed films this is certainly one on the upper half as most of them are not that good ('Groundhog Day' is definitely the best). Here however he effortlessly keeps a tight, sadistic reign on the road trip that turns into a disaster. If there is one thing that has not aged at all is the directing as there is never a dull moment to be found. The movie moves along at a fine pace and never stays in one scene or area for too long. 

Chevy Chase completely relishes this role as he perfectly embodies the typical father who tries so hard to let his family have a good time that he just as easily misses a lot of smaller but still important aspects. Clark Griswold is most definitely his best character in his movie career and one of his best performances (a performance he improves on in 'Christmas Vacation' mind you). One of the many strong aspects of the film is that these characters really like a family. No matter how many hardships they go through and how many times the kids say they hate each other - you feel a connection between them and they do come across like a perfect representation of what many families are like. While I do rave a lot about how good 'Christmas Vacation' is, I like the children (they change actors literally every film) a bit more here and I do wish they had returned for the sequels. There is no doubt about it, this family and their relation is the best part of the whole movie and I can definitely imagine it having inspired the creation of 'The Simpsons' in some way (the timeframe certainly works).

So despite me not really finding a lot of the movie funny - I still thoroughly enjoyed it, probably more than I did the first time I saw it. Chevy Chase is a revelation, it is worth watching the movie just to see his performance. The movie is never dull as the editing keeps the characters going and never stay in one location for too long (this is a road trip movie after all). So while I would definitely not pay money to see the new 'Vacation' movie - this is a movie I would gladly pay to see again.


- Lucas


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