While his homestead is just one of the stops on the Griswolds’ ill-fated road-trip, their stop at Cousin Eddie’s (Randy Quaid) is one of the most memorable and beloved parts of National Lampoon’s Vacation and the introduction to a character who would go on to delight in Christmas Vacation (which is a part of the Warner Bros. Holiday Gift Guide) and beyond.
While not a blood relative to the Griswolds — Eddie’s wife Catherine (Miriam Flynn) is cousin to Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), who, of course, is married to Clark (Chevy Chase) — Cousin Eddie is unmistakably and inescapably an impolite part of the family whose heart is in the right place (while the rest of him could use some work).
With the holidays fast approaching, it’s easy to assume that you’re fated to spend some time with in-laws who have their own batch of flaws that you’re forced to overlook. So, with that in mind, it seemed like a great time to look back at the Cousin Eddie lines from Family Vacation that serve as a reminder that in-laws are forever.
“She was born without a tongue.”
Once the Griswolds arrive, it doesn’t take much time before things get weird at ol’ Cousin Eddie’s. Almost immediately, when Clark tries to say hello to his youngest daughter, Eddie has to explain that she doesn’t speak for one of the strangest reasons imaginable — she’s missing her tongue. Of course, Eddie being the glass-is-half-full type that he is, reassures everyone that she “whistles like a bird and eats like a horse.”
“Nothin’ but the best!”
When Clark asks Eddie if he sets his table with real tomato ketchup, his remark is positively dripping with snark. But Eddie, ever the good-natured optimist, looks over his shoulder, proud of his meatless spread and his expert French kissing daughter’s hand-stirred Kool-Aid, and responds with a sincere bit of enthusiasm that only he is capable of.
“I don’t know why they call it Hamburger Helper. It does just fine on its own.”
One of Eddie’s most memorable lines which is, as always, spoken with a smile, as he’s more than happy to share what little he has with Clark and his family. Eddie gets some credit for having a palate refined enough to tell the difference between Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper, especially when being served without meat.
“Bank’s been after me like flies on a rib roast.”
Things aren’t all fun and games out on Eddie’s farm, as he laments to Clark the uncertain future of his meager homestead. As Clark tries to do what any of us would — which is sidestep the conversation — Eddie simply takes a deep breath and stares off into space before realizing the conversation would be better had along with a nice, cold beer. Although Clark would have undoubtedly preferred a fresh one of his own, of course, but at least he starts to understand the importance of limiting his expectations when staying with Cousin Eddie.
“Then the army cuts my disability pension because they said the plate in my head isn’t big enough!”
It’s bad enough he got laid off from his job at the asbestos factory, but when the plate in his head is too small to continue getting his disability pension, it’s enough to break Eddie down to the point where he asks Clark for a little bit of money to help him get by. And when we say “a little bit,” of course we mean something closer to the tune of $52,000.
“You folks didn’t get to meet Dinky last night. He had the sh*ts, so he slept in the barn.”
Ever the gracious host, as the Griswolds part ways and Eddie, he sees them off in his finest bathrobe and gives them a chance to finally meet Dinky, the dog who’d been kept in the barn and out of sight for the benefit of their guests. Of course, this gesture of courtesy is completely undone when it’s revealed that they’re not only hauling Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) to Phoenix, but her hellhound, as well. Proving no matter how soon you leave, you’re always taking a little bit of Cousin Eddie’s place with you… until you absent-mindedly tie it to your back bumper before driving off, that is.
“Last time I saw you, you remarked how much you liked mine.”
He may be the patriarch of a poor go-nowhere family out in rural Kansas, but Eddie’s taste in fashion is everlasting. Also, clearly, this man is a giver — of fine footwear and burdens alike. Perhaps you can relate with one of your cousins or another in-law? But for your sake and the sake of your upcoming holiday, I truly hope not.
We hope you enjoyed our look back at National Lampoons Family Vacation. Our friends at Warner Bros. asked us to remind readers that the Family Vacation 30th Anniversary Blu-ray and the Blu-ray release for the all new Vacation film are available for sale, and that the Christmas Vacation Steel Book Blu-ray is available for purchase here.