National Lampoon's Vacation

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National Lampoon's Vacation
Theatrical release poster by Boris Vallejo
Directed by Harold Ramis
Produced by Matty Simmons
Written by John Hughes
Harold Ramis (uncredited)
Chevy Chase (uncredited)
Based on "Vacation '58" 
by John Hughes
Music by Ralph Burns
Cinematography Victor J. Kemper
Edited by Pembroke J. Herring
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • July 29, 1983 (1983-07-29)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $61.3 million

National Lampoon's Vacation, sometimes referred to as Vacation, is a 1983 comedy film directed by Harold Ramis and starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Dana Barron, and Anthony Michael Hall. John Candy, Imogene Coca, Christie Brinkley, and Jane Krakowski appear in supporting roles.

The screenplay was written by John Hughes, based on his short story "Vacation '58" which appeared in National Lampoon. The original story is a fictionalized account of his own family's ill-fated trip to Disneyland when Hughes was a boy. The success of the film helped advance his screenwriting career.

The film was a box-office hit, earning more than $61 million in the US with an estimated budget of $15 million, and received widespread acclaim from critics. In 2000, readers of Total Film voted it the 46th greatest comedy film of all time. It is widely considered to be the best film in the Vacation series[citation needed], and continues to be a cult film and a staple on cable television. As of August 8, 2014, the film has received a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[1]


Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), wanting to spend more time with his wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and children Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and Audrey (Dana Barron), decides to lead the family on a cross-country expedition from the Chicago area to the Los Angeles amusement park Walley World, billed as "America's Favorite Family Fun Park." Ellen wants to fly, but Clark insists on driving, so he can bond with his family. He has ordered a new car in preparation for the trip, but the dealer (Eugene Levy) claims that it will not be ready for six weeks. Clark is forced to accept a Wagon Queen Family Truckster, an ugly, outsized station wagon, as the car he brought to trade in has already been hauled away and crushed.

During the family's travels, they run into numerous mishaps, such as being tagged by vandals in a rundown area of St. Louis, while Clark is tempted numerous times by an attractive young woman (Christie Brinkley) driving a flashy red Ferrari. They stop in Kansas to visit Ellen's cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn) and her husband Eddie (Randy Quaid), who foist cranky Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) and her mean dog Dinky on the Griswolds, asking them to drop her off at her son Normy's home in Phoenix. After stopping at a decrepit and dirty campground in Colorado for the night, Clark forgets to untie Dinky's leash from the bumper before driving off the next morning, killing the dog. A police officer pulls the Griswolds off the road and angrily lectures Clark over animal cruelty but accepts Clark's apology. Exiting Colorado, the Griswolds lose their credit cards, forcing Clark to have to cash a check for future spendings.

While Ellen and Clark argue during a drive between Utah and Arizona, they crash and become stranded in the desert. After setting off alone in the desert to look for help, Clark eventually reunites with his family, who have been rescued and taken to a local mechanic (who is also the corrupt county sheriff). The mechanic extorts the rest of Clark's cash from him to make the car barely operational. Frustrated, they stop at the Grand Canyon; when Clark cannot convince a hotel clerk to cash a personal check, he takes cash from the cash register and leaves the check. Leaving the Canyon, they find that Aunt Edna has died in her sleep. They tie the corpse to the roof of the car, wrapped in a tarp. When they reach Normy's home, they discover he is out of town and leave Edna's corpse at the back door. Clark eventually meets the Ferrari driver at a motel and goes skinny-dipping with her in its pool, but they are discovered by the family before anything can happen. Ellen forgives Clark, and the couple goes skinny-dipping as well.

Despite the family's misfortunes and the begging of Ellen and the kids, Clark becomes obsessed with reaching Walley World. They finally arrive the next day, only to find that the park is closed for repairs. Clark, slipping into madness and realizing that all his efforts have been for nothing, buys a realistic-looking BB gun pistol and demands that park security guard Russ Lasky (John Candy) take them through Walley World; Ellen and the kids follow, attempting to placate Clark. Eventually a SWAT team arrives, along with park owner Roy Walley (Eddie Bracken). Roy understands Clark's impassioned longing to achieve the perfect vacation, bringing back memories of his own childhood years ago. He decides not to file criminal charges against the Griswolds and lets the family and the SWAT team enjoy the park as his guests.

The ending credits show various pictures of the Griswolds' vacation as well as the fact that they decide to fly home.



Walley World[edit]

In John Hughes' original short story, the theme park was Disneyland. Because of this, all of the names were altered to soundalikes.[2] Walt Disney's Disneyland became Walley World, itself a good-natured parody of the Anaheim location. The name of the mascot, Marty Moose, is reminiscent of Disney's Mickey Mouse.

Walley World is represented in the film by Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. Santa Anita Park's large parking lot and blue-tinged fascia serve as the introduction scenes, while all park interior scenes were shot at Magic Mountain. The two roller coasters seen in the film are Revolution, which can be recognized by the vertical loop, and Colossus, the double-track wooden roller coaster.

Wagon Queen Family Truckster[edit]

Wagon Queen Family Truckster

The Wagon Queen Family Truckster station wagon was created specifically for the film. The Truckster is based on a 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon and heavily modified.[3] The car was designed by George Barris, and lampooned American cars of the late 1970s. The Truckster features a pea green paint scheme; fake wood paneling; eight headlights, four on each side in a rectangular cluster (taken from another Crown Victoria/Country Squire, but inverted); a grille area largely covered by bodywork having only two small openings close to the bumper.[4]


The film's music was composed by Ralph Burns, featuring original songs by Lindsey Buckingham. A soundtrack album was released in 1983. While it did not chart, Buckingham's single "Holiday Road" reached number 82 on the Billboard Hot 100.

  1. "Holiday Road" – Lindsey Buckingham
  2. "Mister Blue" – The Fleetwoods
  3. "Blitzkrieg Bop" – Ramones
  4. "Deep River Blues" – Ralph Burns
  5. "Summer Hearts" – Nicolette Larson
  6. "Little Boy Sweet" – June Pointer
  7. "The Trip (Theme from Vacation)" – Ralph Burns
  8. "He's So Dull" – Vanity 6
  9. "Christie's Song" – Ralph Burns
  10. "Dancin' Across the USA" – Lindsey Buckingham


National Lampoon's Vacation spawned a number of sequels:

With the exception of Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure, each sequel saw Chase and D'Angelo reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold, enduring their unique and unenviable brand of vacation misadventure in various locales. However, the children Rusty and Audrey are played by a different set of actors in each film (except for Audrey in the last sequel). In July 2013, Barron explained that because Hall was committed to shooting Weird Science, European Vacation Director Amy Heckerling requested both Griswold children be recast.[5] This fact is joked about early in Vegas Vacation: when we first see the kids again, Clark tells them that he "hardly recognizes" them anymore. The various actors were Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron in Vacation, Jason Lively and Dana Hill in European Vacation, Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis in Christmas Vacation, and Ethan Embry and Marisol Nichols in Vegas Vacation. Barron again plays Audrey in Christmas Vacation 2, but Rusty, like his parents, could not make it for Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure, an NBC TV movie. However, Flynn and Quaid reprise their roles as cousins Catherine and Eddie, as they did in each film aside from European Vacation. Christie Brinkley reprised her role as "The girl in the red Ferrari" in Vegas Vacation[6] and later spoofed it in a 2008 DirecTV commercial inter-spliced with footage from Vacation, recreating the famous swimming pool scene.[7]

Each sequel also manages to reference Walley World in some way.

In July 2012, it was announced that Ed Helms of The Hangover fame would star as an adult Rusty Griswold in the upcoming film, simply titled Vacation. This new film follows Rusty, who now has his own family, on their own misadventures as they travel cross-country to Walley World, which will be closing forever. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein will write and direct the film. [8] The remake was postponed indefinitely due to creative differences.[9] Filming eventually began in October 2014 and Helms posted a photo of him with Chase and D'Angelo, confirming the two original stars will reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold. Cousin Eddie, a mainstay of the first five films, isn't expected to appear in the film due to Randy Quaid having lived in Canada under refugee status since 2010.[10] The film is scheduled to be released on July 29, 2015.




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