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National Lampoon's Vacation
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Genre:Comedy
Year:1983
Rating:R
Length:1 Hour 39 Minutes
Cast:Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall

Far superior to its sequels, National Lampoon's Vacation chronicles the trials and tribulations of the Griswolds (Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall) as they trek cross-country in search of fun and recreation at the mythical WallyWorld theme park. Along the way, they get lost in East St. Louis (in what some may consider a racist scene involving black youths stripping the brand-new family station wagon clean while Chase unwittingly asks a belligerent pimp for directions), stop to visit some hillbilly relatives (Randy Quaid is hilarious as the down-on-his-luck patriarch), pick up their cantankerous Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca), dispose of her corpse after she passes away in the back seat, narrowly skirt death after crashing through a roadside billboard in the desert, and stay at a hotel where Chase is tempted by a seductive swimmer (Christy Brinkley). Having endured a journey more trying than Homer's Odyssey, they finally arrive at WallyWorld -- only to find it is closed for two weeks for renovations...wackiness ensues as Clark snaps and takes a security guard hostage John Candy. Chase is good as everyman Clark Griswold, as is D'Angelo as his wife, and Candy is a scene-stealer as a stodgy, dim-witted park security guard. Among the funniest scenes are Clark's swim at the motel, the visit to the Grand Canyon, and the encounter with the state trooper regarding Aunt Edna's missing dog. Much of the humor in National Lampoon's Vacation is indicative of the '80s general lack of taste in comedies (particularly its exploitation of racial stereotypes and incest humor), but a good portion of the film is still laugh-out-loud funny thanks to a game cast. Jeremy Beday

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