Monday, July 29, 2013

Holiday Road Trip

Cousin Vicki (Jane Krakowski): I'm going steady, and I French kiss.

Audrey (Dana Barron): So? Everybody does that.

Cousin Vicki: Yeah, but Daddy says I'm the best at it.

National Lampoon's "Vacation" series of movies got its start 30 years ago today when the original "Vacation" movie premiered.

In their first screen appearance, the Griswold family tried to visit the fictional Wally World theme park (seemingly modeled after Disneyland) in California in a good–natured parody of family vacations. Over the years, the Griswolds made trips to Europe and Las Vegas. My personal favorite in the series was the one about their Christmas vacation in which they didn't go anywhere.

The Vegas and European vacations weren't all that entertaining, as far as I was concerned, but the one that made its debut 30 years ago today had a lot going for it. Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron played the original Griswold children (roles that went to different actors and actresses in each movie), and they were always my favorites.

That probably had a lot to do with how I felt about the movies.

Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo always played the Griswold parents. They provided the continuity.
Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo): Clark, let's just skip the house of mud. I think Dodge City was enough for one day. Besides, Catherine and Eddie are expecting us.

Clark (Chevy Chase): It's living history, Ellen. But if you'd rather see your cousins, it's OK by me. Personally I'd rather see a pile of mud than Eddie.

But I always felt like I had to re–introduce myself to the kids. Their names were always the same, but the actors were always different. (I must admit, though, I experience the same thing when I see old friends — and their children, who are always several years older than the last time I saw them.)

If I could have, I would have stuck with the two who were in the movie that was released in 1983.

After a harrowing trip from Chicago to the West Coast, the Griswolds discovered that Wally World was closed for some maintenance work — and Clark (Chevy Chase) went, well, a little nuts — to the considerable discomfort of a park security guard (John Candy).

All of the "Vacation" movies seem to have delivered what audiences wanted — easy laughs at the expense of the generally challenged Griswold family.

And the Griswolds were particularly challenged in this movie — starting with Clark being victimized by a bait–and–switch at the car dealer.

Some of the challenges were like that — thrust upon the Griswolds. Others, they brought on themselves.

That's the way it is on Holiday Road.