Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Imogene Coca
Director: Harold Ramis
Running Time: 98 mins
Vacation is an American film about the Griswold family’s holiday road trip across America to reach the illusive theme park ‘Walley World’ in California. Unfortunately, things don’t go as they planned at first.
This is hailed as one of the best comedies of the 80s, and right up there with Animal House in the National Lampoon’s series. I’m not sure it’s exactly that, but it is undoubtedly an easy-going and pretty funny film, with stupid humour to keep you entertained, even if the story isn’t stunning, and it can get a bit annoying from time to time.
Before we get into that, though, let’s look at why this is placed above so many of the other eighties comedies. Firstly, it’s got a great cast. Chevy Chase is so much fun to watch in the main role, taking the dad character beyond the stereotype you’re used to, whilst the rest of the family members are all played just as well, and they each have distinctive characters that play interesting and still hilarious roles in the story too.
What’s more is it’s that sort of comedy that’s both good, but doesn’t require any real brainpower. Unlike some of the more dialogue-based comedies of the 21st Century, this is pretty much entirely slapstick-oriented. Yes, there are some brilliant one-liners here and there, but most of the laughs you’ll get out of this are from people falling over and all that jazz. That’s not always a bad thing, however, and it does provide for some good entertainment here, it’s just not of an intelligent level that would really make you laugh like others can.
The issue with Vacation, however, is that it doesn’t have much beyond the comedy and the main characters. Of course, this type of film isn’t trying for a compelling and thrilling plot, but the end result of it is still a little mediocre, even for an eighties comedy. Animal House has that brilliant rivalry between the students and the dean, and so many other comedies do manage to have subplots that are interesting beyond just funny, so that would have been nice to see, because this does end up as a bit of a repetitive film to watch.
Finally, the humour does get a bit annoying. It’s not the stupidity of it all, that actually holds up very well, it’s just the fact that so much goes wrong for the Griswolds here that you can’t believe it in the end, which does take away some of the entertainment value unfortunately. Still, as a simple comedy, you’ll have a pretty good time with this, and that’s why it gets a 7.2 from me.