TV Party Tonight! #134

TV Party Tonight! #134

Monday, 23 October 2023

National Lampoon’s Vacation
[4K/Digital Download]

Hey, there’s a lesson I want to teach you. Get close. You’re listening? Always save your Word documents. Yes, because we’re always depending on our computers to autosave them, or we don’t think they’ll automatically reboot and lose your file, or you’re convinced there’s a way of recovering your files, or you yourself accidentally rebooted your computer forgetting you had an unsaved file. Why did you do that? Because clicking “save as” is SUCH a PAIN right? You know what’s more of a pain? Rewriting this review. Or maybe not, because I really liked National Lampoon’s Vacation on a rewatch. Now, what was I trying to say about this movie? Oh yeah…

I don’t really know how I should feel about Chevy Chase. I’ve always known of him, of course, that he started on SNL and as the breakout comedian of the show when it started and that he formed a rather successful acting career after that. But, he’s not exactly someone who’s kept at it, is he? Not like Steve Martin or Martin Short. Yeah, they’re not exactly the cutting edge of comedy, but at least they’re still out there getting it done. Chevy Chase kind of faded away. Did he burn his bridges? Is he just done with acting? Is he hard to work with? Maybe all of the above. But one thing is certain. He’s great in National Lampoon’s Vacation, and this movie is great because of him.

I don’t know if anyone else would have been able to bring Clark Griswold alive and give him the kind of personality that Chevy Chase was able to. You remember what this movie is about, right? Family goes on a road trip to Wally World, a bunch of insanity ensues, and when they get there, the park is closed. Clark Griswold is the glue for this entire movie and Chase plays him as such an enthusiastic optimist that you just can’t help root for him. He’s also a very realistic optimist, who is affected by his own horny vices, but everything he does is for his family, and you gotta love a guy like that. What’s more, the Griswolds all truly love each other and the characters all play off each other quite well. I think one thing that truly sets this movie apart from other family Vacation movies is just how likeable and functional this family is.

Of course the script of National Lampoon’s Vacation is loaded with jokes, and every kind of joke at that. Some are subtle, some you have to think about more, some slapstick, some racy, and some even the kids inside us will enjoy. That makes this truly a delightful movie to sit through. And the characters the Griswolds interact with on their trip are as colorful as they are and serve to move the plot forward instead of being dead weight. I don’t know what happened to Chevy Chase or the Vacation movie series and we could write whole book analyzing what made this version so special, but that’s just it, with this one they struck gold.

And, File, Save As, “vctn.”

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