National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Absurd Comedy, Farce, Road Movie  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Perry Seibert

Considering the number of talented people involved in this film, it is not surprising that the laughs are constant. Conversely, considering the number of talented people involved in this film, it is surprising it isn't a bit sharper and deeper with its comedy. Harold Ramis showed in subsequent comedies that he was capable of finding an emotional level to match the laughs (Groundhog Day, Stuart Saves His Family, and even, to a lesser extent, Ghostbusters), and screenwriter John Hughes invested the seemingly overworked teen film with some honest feelings in his screenplays for such '80s classics as Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, and Some Kind of Wonderful. There are easily two-dozen very funny scenes in this film. Chevy Chase does a fine job of modulating his performance so that he slowly becomes more and more unglued until all his pent-up frustrations are released in a hilarious monologue/rant to his family, and in his threatening of John Candy's park worker. There is no doubt that Vacation is funny, but watching the films mentioned before (as well as Animal House, another National Lampoon film which Ramis co-wrote) reveals that it is possible to make a slob comedy that is populated by characters with some depth. Vacation succeeds as a comedy, but fails to resonate emotionally.