Look maybe it’s because I was born in the late, late 80s but I never truly experienced a road trip. Sure we had family that lived over an hour away and I went to college a couple hours from home but driving for a while isn’t the same thing as going across the country. Call me crazy but I prefer to fly anywhere that’s not within a few hours.
But when you watch a film like “Vacation,” you start to understand what makes those trips special. Yeah I am sure that they can be boring at times and everyone gets on each others’ nerves but there is a certain camaraderie that comes from this experience. However when it comes the film, you see it at its best and worst.
For me, “Vacation” was a classic late 70s, early 80s movie. Made by the same people behind “Animal House” (a big favorite my mind), the film gives off that simple family friendly vibe but with adult content. At first you thing it will be like any PG-13 movie but it pretty quickly earns that R rating. And that’s what makes the film so entertaining; as a viewer these characters are treating the situation like how you would want to treat it.
Chevy Chase leads the way as Clark, the father as well as head of the Griswolds and, to be honest, the only character that really matters. Sure his wife has a couple fun moments and the son, Rusty, gives you a few laughs in his conversations with his dad, but Clark is what it’s all about; he is hilarious throughout.
It’s the way he thinks about the things, the way he responds to the awkward situations the family gets into and the odd way he acts around the Christie Brinkley character. Clark is the classic father figure who just lets loose after all those hard days at work. He just wants to have some fun with the family but nothing else in the world tends to cooperate.
And the Griswolds end up in some funny situations including the wife’s awkward cousins (especially Cousin Eddie), the old and rude Aunt Edna plus the pool scene in the motel. Of course it all culminates in their arrival at Walley World where Clark reaches the end of his patience and responds in the only way he “sanely” can.
Now I wouldn’t say “Vacation” made me laugh hysterically throughout but it sustains a consistent a humor that keeps you entertained. It may not have hit me with as many quotable lines like “Double Secret Probation” from “Animal House,” however I am pretty sure that I smiled throughout the whole movie. The whole tone and flow made it a quick as well as enjoyable watch, which makes it easier to view again whenever the film is on TV.
By no means do I now want to go on a road trip across the country but this movie reminds me of why people still want to do it. Sure the point is to be absurd and also the worst possible road trip ever but it’s those kind of memorable experiences that make people want to sit in cars for a long time. For me, the “Vacation” is the closest thing to a road trip I’ll ever take, short and sweet.
+ Danny Reiter is the producer of the Dan Sileo Show