National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) from Tuna

Vacation is now 20 years old, and the studio has released a 20th anniversary special edition. It has been re-mastered in the original theatrical aspect ratio, but the best thing about the new edition is the commentary, featuring Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Producer Matty Simmons, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, and director Harold Ramis.

I will assume every one of you has seen this classic road trip comedy about the Griswold family's attempt to get to Wally World in the world's ugliest station wagon, so here are some of the points I found interesting in the commentary:


  • The DVD has the shower breast exposure from D'Angelo, as well as the panties-only long shot at the Holiday Inn swimming pool.

  • The 4/3 version showed much more of her, including the fact that she was wearing panties in the shower.

  • Christie Brinkley made first film appearance as the blonde temptress in the sports car, and declined to go nude, so we see her in a white bra. She is wearing a skin-toned body suit in the swimming pool. Both she and Chase seem to be treading water so you couldn't see their clothes through the water.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Feature-length Griswold Family audio commentary by Chase, Quaid, Simmons, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, and Director Harold Ramis

  • Theatrical trailer(s)

  • New digital transfer

  • New introduction by Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, and Producer Matty Simmons

  • Family Truckster gallery

  • Widescreen anamorphic format

  • Near the start of the film, Clark and Ellen are doing the dishes. She is scraping them, then he wipes them with a dishcloth and puts them in the cupboard. They never get washed.

  • In a scene I can relate to, Clark is trying to find the gas tank on his new car. He notices that a nearby family found theirs under the license plate, so he grabs his and pulls. It flies off. What I never noticed is that it narrowly missed the actress on the other side of the pumps, and you can see from Chase's look that he really thought he had injured her.

  • Imogene Coco didn't want to take the role of the cantankerous aunt. She was afraid she couldn't be mean enough for the role.

  • The ending we all know was not the original ending. In the first cut, they all went to Roy Wally's house where Clark held everyone at gunpoint and forced them to dance and entertain his family. Test audiences hated the ending, so they re-wrote it, and then had to shoot the new footage. In the meantime, everyone had lost their tans, and Anthony Michael Hall (son Russ) had hit puberty and grown about three inches.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • It was a massive hit and spawned several sequels. It grossed $61 million dollars, a big chunk of change in 1983. It was the #11 film of the year, out-grossing The Big Chill, for example.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a clear B. Critically admired, a box office success, rated high by posterity, and still popular with young audiences, it is one of those rare comedies that nearly everyone enjoys.

Return to the Movie House home page