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All Movie GuideFar 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.
Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold and his wife Ellen Beverly D'Angelo --- and their two generally repulsive children Rusty Jason Lively and Audrey Dana Hill -- are off on a European vacation thanks to a winning stint on a quiz show. As the movie unfolds in brochures featuring London, Paris, and regions in Italy and Germany, the family undergoes a series of slap-schtick misadventures that include thinking an overwhelmed German husband and wife are long-lost relatives and getting into a funk in their train compartment. Not on a par with the first National Lampoon vacation, for many viewers the end of this European vacation is something that cannot come too soon.
Chevy Chase, star of National Lampoon's Vacation and its sequel, is back as the paterfamilias of the Griswold family including Beverly D'Angelo as his missus to skewer the Yuletide season. Chevy mugs, trips, falls, mashes his fingers and stubs his toes as he prepares to invite numerous dysfunctional relatives to his household to celebrate Christmas. Amidst the more outrageous sight gags including the electrocution of a cat as the Christmas tree is lit the film betrays a sentimental streak, with old wounds healing and long-estranged relatives reuniting in the Griswold living room. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was still capable of attracting an audience five years after its release: It was one of the top-rated seasonal TV specials of 1994, outrating even the first network telecast of It's a Wonderful Life.
This is the fourth in a series of movies that began with National Lampoon's Vacation in 1983 and feature the family headed by Clark Griswold Chevy Chase going on wacky vacations. This time, the Griswolds visit Las Vegas. Clark immediately goes to the blackjack table and starts blowing all his money, continually encouraged to spend more and more by a taunting dealer, Marty Wallace Shawn. Ellen Griswold Beverly D'Angelo becomes smitten with the lounge singer Wayne Newton playing himself, who invites her to sing onstage with him. Their son Rusty Ethan Embry is incredibly lucky playing dice, and he is virtually adopted by a family of gangsters who see him as their meal ticket. Daughter Audrey Marisol Nichols gets hooked up with her wild cousin Vickie Shae D'Lyn, who takes her to sleazy dance clubs. White-trash cousin Eddie Randy Quaid, who lives on a former A-bomb test site in the nearby desert, also gets involved with the capers.