Thursday, August 26, 2010

#66 - National Lampoons Vacation - 1983

The 3rd movie I watched this week was the classic National Lampoons Vacation. This movie came out when I was 7 years old and I probably didn't see it for the first time until the late 80's but I will always remember seeing this one and loving it from the first time I saw it even at an early age. There were so many wonderful things about this movie and I was so happy to get a chance to see it again because it has been awhile. Below is my detailed review.

I'm not even going to waste anyone's time by sharing the plot of this film because everyone should already know that, if you don't I'm sorry. Instead lets talk about the cast. Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, Randy Quaid, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Imogene Coca, and Christie Brinkley (in her film debut!) round out the main cast of characters worth noting. Chevy Chase obviously plays Clark Griswold and his wife Ellen is played by D'Angelo and his Hall plays his son Rusty. Quaid plays the hilarious Uncle Eddie and Coca stars as Aunt Edna. Brinkley stars as "the girl in the Ferrari" and Levy and Candy have smaller roles in the film as a car salesman and Walley World employee respectively. Brian Doyle Murray also has a very brief appearance in this film as the Kamp Komfort Clerk and this is too funny to me because he actually also plays the role of Clark's boss in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation which I've literally, no joke seen over 150 times in my life.

Ok enough about all the actors. They are great and casting gets a passing grade with flying colors for this cast of characters. Lets move on to the sets for this film and where they take us. It starts in Chicago, IL and moves to St. Louis, MO and then to good old Dodge City, KS. From there they move forward to Coolidge, KS and then all the way out to Phoenix, AZ and out to their final destination of Los Angeles, CA. Out of all the locations they visited my favorite was obviously Los Angeles, CA due only to the fact that Walley World was actually Six Flags Magic Mountain and I loved seeing those scenes with the roller coasters and it brought back memories of the way Six Flags used to be. Ill speak more about that below. The scenes in St. Louis and Dodge City actually looked to me like they were shot at the Universal backlot but they were not, they were filmed at the Warner Brothers studios. They looked pretty realistic and accurate to the environment they were supposed to be at, or at least I am assuming so. Not sure where they shot the Coolidge scene but I wouldn't want to live there, sorry.

Lets talk Walley World. First problem I have, it should be Wally World, not WallEy World, that just bugs me. As mentioned before Walley World is actually Six Flags Magic Mountain sans the Parking Lot images along with the castle in the background and the big skyway, those are obviously art concepts and are not in the park itself. The rest is and I love seeing the rides they used for this final scene of the film. Colossus was actually Screamey Meemy and Revolution posed as Whipper Snapper for this film. Who the hell came up with these names?? haha. I thought it was cool to have the final sequence of this movie filmed at an amusement park and if it couldn't be Disneyland then I guess Six Flags would do however Knotts Berry Farm would have been a great choice. I would have loved a scene with the ride Gold Rush or the White Water Rapids but I guess the coaster scenes were all they shot. Originally the Directors had planned for the Griswolds to head to Disneyland for their main destination but Disneyland never closes so they were unable to use that venue for this film.

My favorite character in this film is easily Clark Griswold. Uncle Eddie is actually funnier in Christmas Vacation and had a more limited role in this one so really nobody compares to Clark as far as the funny goes. His dedication and determination to get his family out to Walley World no matter what turns into pure comedy with all the obstacles he has to face. I especially love the scene where he flips out in the car prior to heading to California when his wife and kids suggest maybe passing on Walley World. It is a shorter more condensed version of his rant in Christmas Vacation and although not as funny as the latter film it is still quite comical and one of the funnier scenes he has in this film. Who could also forget his late night skinny dipping scene with Christie Brinkley?? More on that below.

There were a lot of great scenes in this film and parts of this movie that I enjoyed. Some funny, some "wow look how young he looks", and one in particular scene that was just sad. Lets start with the "wow look how young he looks. Ill use this reference for Eugene Levy and John Candy, but especially Levy he looked super young as the Car Salesman at the beginning of the film. 5 short minutes of screen time but a "wow look how young he looks" scene for me. Lets get the sad scene out of the way now too. I think we all know what I am referring to. The scene where the police officer pulls Clark over because he accidentally left the dog tied to the bumper of his car and killed it was sad. Just the thought of it is sad but thankfully there was no evidence of the "carcass" as the police officer said. Not sure this scene was a "must have" for this film and had there been other deleted scenes for this movie I think I would have preferred them to this one, any of them, don't care what they would have been. Lets move on to the funnies now! There's lots of them!

The singing scene with the family as the first embark on their trip is classic. It reminds me of the scene at the beginning of the film the Great Outdoors. I also enjoyed their dangerous trip through the "hood" in St Louis but I was highly confused when I saw a thief using what appeared to be a cell phone and not some big bulky looking one either but a small compact looking one. Weird. Is there a story behind that?? Their stop at Uncle Eddies is very very funny especially when Clark first sees Aunt Edna. Who doesn't laugh when a man's sandwich falls out of the bun? Speaking of Uncle Eddie can I have his # to get some of those hip looking white shoes? WOW - too damn funny! One of the funniest scenes of the movie was when Clark saw Brinkley at a rest stop and was dancing with his pee soaked sandwich. Clarks got some moves in this scene doesn't he? haha.

The scene at the hotel in Phoenix after they dreadfully drop off Aunt Edna at a family members home was one of the more memorable ones in the film. For any teenage adolescent this scene is probably embedded in their brain and will be forever. Yes I am speaking of the infamous pool scene with Clark and Brinkley where they go skinny dipping. Now and day's teenagers were less to homeroom than we saw in this scene but still the scene itself was wonderful on many levels. Clark's comment before jumping in "this is crazy this is crazy and I'm in deep" before he shouts out like a woman at the coldness of the water is comedy magic. At this point in this film I felt sorry for the guy personally but couldn't help but laugh how deeper he dug himself a hole.

Other scenes that top my list were the theft scene at the Grand Canyon, the Psycho reenactment shower scene, the incredible car crash scene in the desert, and all the scenes when Clark saw Brinkley in her red Ferrari while driving. I thought it was hilarious subliminal advertising when they had a Coppertone Display in a Dodge City, KS that had Christie Brinkley donning a yellow bikini. Too funny. I also thought it was unique that Roy Walley looked very similar to Walt and Roy Disney. Coincidence? The tent cabins at Kamp Komfort reminded me of when the Brady Bunch went camping. I liked that show! I was also amused at all the scenes that reminded me of Christmas Vacation like the following. Rusty explaining things by saying One followed by B then followed by three. The outburst scene by Clark was similar too as I explained before. Here's a transcript. "I'm going to have fun, your going to have fun, were all going to have so much fucking fun were going to need plastic surgery to remove our god damn smiles. You'll be whistling zippeedee dooo da out of your asshole"! Classic Clark Griswold.

This movie to me was filled with many very funny scenes and all kinds of obstacles and diversions for the Griswold family on their vacation from Chicago to Los Angeles. I have never and hope to never experience a vacation like this but watching it was quite enjoyable. The snapshots of postcards at the beginning of the film and vacation photos at the end of the film were pretty cool touches. The song that is uber-popular and has been in numerous films that plays when Clark and his family run towards the entrance of Walley World at the end of the film is a song that will always remind me of this movie. The coordinated drum smashes that match Clarks arms flinging out was an added bonus for me as you really get to witness this man's dream come true as he finally made it to Walley World! There wasn't much to complain about in this film besides the dog scene and therefore I would give this one a strong firm A!

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