National Lampoon's Vacation | Chicago Reader

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Rated R · 98 minutes · 1983

Despite plenty of gross-out gags and dumb slapstick bits, the careful viewer can occasionally detect some acrid and original satire in this 1983 film. As midwestern dad Chevy Chase leads his nuclear family on a cross-country pilgrimage to the ultimate theme park—southern California's "Wally World"—his desperately held ideals of family togetherness are relentlessly undercut by emotional realities. Though director Harold Ramis doesn't have Albert Brooks's gift for making situations funny and real at once, he at least is able to alternate cartoonish stylization with naturalistic character study, which increases the grain and impact of the very black humor. It's no masterpiece, but compared to the toothless comedies of its era, its attack on American mythology seems almost worthy of Preston Sturges. With Beverly D'Angelo, Imogene Coca, and Randy Quaid.
Director: Harold Ramis
Writer: John Hughes
Producer: Matty Simmons and Robert Grand
Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Christie Brinkley, Anthony Hall, Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid, Dana Barron, John Candy, Eddie Bracken, Brian Doyle-Murray and Eugene Levy

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