National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

(Second viewing, On DVD, February 2017) Movies become semi-classics for a reason, and the appeal of National Lampoon’s Vacation can be found in nearly-universal nostalgic reminiscences of childhood road trips to visit some far-off destination. That’s the vein that John Hughes picked up in giving life to the episodic Vacation, featuring Chevy Chase as a bumbling dad trying to ensure happy holidays for his family. Nearly thirty-five years later, there’s a pleasant eighties patina over the film, but many of the gags remain just as funny today. (There are exceptions, of course—some scenes, such as the saloon fake-shootout, remain more mystifying than anything else.) It’s a great piece of Americana, a rather good showcase for Chevy Chase’ comic persona, and it remains a fairly solid touch-point for references even today. Plus you’ll get to hum “Holiday Road” for days. It’s not my favourite of the series (that honour goes to Christmas Vacation), but it’s solid enough to show why it remains popular even today.

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