Few comedies have enjoyed the legacy that National Lampoon’s Vacation has. It was one of the highest grossing comedies of all time when released in 1983 and it has kicked off one of the most successful franchises in movie history. So what makes the story of the Griswold family so great? Here are ten reasons we can’t get enough National Lampoon’s Vacation.
10. Sightseeing Made Easy
Much of the movie is filmed on location. With shots of sites like the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and the St. Louis Arch, watching Vacation is like taking a road trip without having to pay for gas — or ride in a Truckster.
9. A 15-Year-Old Jane Krakowski
As cousin Vicki, Krakowski makes her movie debut by defending her French-kissing prowess: “But Daddy says I’m the best at it.” Even as a teen, the future 30 Rock star has the earnest delivery of the absurd that is her trademark.
8. Misery Loves Company
Your troubles will never be as bad as the Griswolds. You’ve probably dealt with nutty relatives, but hopefully you never had to tie a dead one to the roof rack. And have you ever left a dog leashed to the bumper and driven away? Well, at least you’re not alone.
8. Christie Brinkley vs. Beverly D’Angelo
In this corner, the hottest supermodel of the ’80s. In the other, one of the greatest MILFs of all time. Both of them have a thing for Clark W. Griswold. How did a “genius with food additives” get so lucky? Who cares. These lovely ladies provide Vacation with spice.
6. The Rollercoaster Ride
The excitement. The fear. The nausea. Director Harold Ramis captured the many realities of a great amusement park ride by having the actors ride this repeatedly to get the right shot. The result is priceless.
5. John Hughes’ Imaginative Genius
Leave it to John Hughes to take a childhood experience and turn it into a work of comedic gold. Hughes’s screenplay is based on an unfortunate family trip he took to Disneyland as a boy. (Who hasn’t had to sit next to an elderly relative that smells like mothballs?)
4. Last Minute Intro of John Candy
The original ending (Clark kidnaps Mr. Walley) didn’t go over with test-audiences, so director Harold Ramis called on former SCTV castmate John Candy to shoot a last-minute alternative. His hilarious turn as a Walley World security kicked off Candy’s big-screen career.
3. “Holiday Ro-o-o-o-o-o-o-o- o-oad”
Lindsay Buckingham, the guitarist from Fleetwood Mac, recorded “Holiday Road” — now synonymous with the Vacation franchise — with a chorus so upbeat it can instantly turn a frown upside down.
2. “This Is a Quest For Fun!”
After innumerable disasters, Ellen, Rusty, and Audrey want go home. But Clark’s not having it! What follows is the most hilarious pep-talk ever: “This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun… We’re all gonna have so much f**king fun we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles.” He’s right.
1. Quintessential Chevy Chase
Few actors can pull off what Chase does. His performance is simultaneously heartfelt and hysterical. A nostalgic tear in his eye while having a man-to-man talk with Rusty can quickly disappear with impeccable comedic timing. Chase’s Clark may be a buffoon, but he’s also the lovable lug we’d gladly follow anywhere — and have been doing so for over 30 years ago.