When it was originally released back in 1983, no one knew how much of an impact National Lampoon’s Vacation was going to have on the comedic landscape for decades to come. Thanks to a perfect script from a pre-Brat Pack John Hughes (based on his autobiographical National Lampoon piece “Vacation ’58”) and some inspired direction by the late, great Harold Ramis, the film connected with audiences by portraying the simple truth that family getaways are more often than not a series of disasters.
Further adding to the appeal of this film are the charming, hilarious performances by Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, Randy Quaid, Imogene Coco, John Candy and Christie Brinkley (as Clark Griswold’s unattainable object of desire), as well as Lindsey Buckingham’s classic song for the movie, “Holiday Road.” With Wednesday’s release of the Vacation reboot starring Ed Helms as a grown-up Rusty Griswold in the midst of his own family trip to Walley World, we thought we’d look back at the best quotes from the original.
“I was speeding. I was driving like a maniac. We can all be grateful to this man for stopping us. You see kids, a car…” – Clark
After getting pulled over by a state trooper for leaving Aunt Edna’s dog tied to his bumper to meet a tragic fate on the highway, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) hilariously attempts to hide the truth about what happened from the kids by launching into a lecture about road safety — one that is interrupted in a darkly hilarious manner by the cop.
“You didn’t order the Metallic Pea?” – Ed
Early on in the film, Eugene Levy appears as a shady car dealer who pawns the Family Truckster off on an unsuspecting Clark Griswold. It’s a one-scene wonder of a character that proves how skilled the casting department and director Harold Ramis were at populating the Griswolds’ world with terrific comedic actors.
“Hey! Underpants!” – Clark
During the Dodge City, Kansas portion of the film (which was shot on the Warner Bros. backlot), Clark gets into a good-natured scrape with a bartender at the local Wild West saloon, calling him a variety of names before hurling an undergarment-themed insult at him that has some unexpected consequences.
“This is crazy! This is crazy! This is crazy!” – Clark
As the Girl in the Red Ferrari, a pre-“Uptown Girl” Christie Brinkley played the object of Clark Griswold’s goofy desire. She recently spoofed the role in a popular Infiniti ad that features many popular Vacation motifs.
“I don’t know why they call this stuff Hamburger Helper, it does just fine by itself. I like it better than Tuna Helper myself, don’t you Clark?” – Cousin Eddie
“You’re the gourmet around here, Ed!” – Clark
Before his highly publicized legal troubles and amateur adult entertainment daliances, Randy Quaid’s turn as Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Vacation was so beloved by audiences that he was brought back for National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and its direct-to-DVD sequel National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure. That film didn’t feature the Clark and Ellen Griswold characters, although Dana Barron did return as Audrey Griswold for the first time since the original Vacation film.
“I stabbed my brain.” – Rusty
Picking your nose is not only a disgusting habit, it is a potentially dangerous one, as Rusty discovered when the Family Truckster went off the road in the middle of nowhere.
“The dog wet on the picnic basket!” – Ellen
One of the film’s most infamous scenes involves a gag in which it is discovered that Aunt Edna’s dog has relieved himself upon the Griswolds’ lunches. As a response, karma took things a bit too far. Wouldn’t you agree?
“Oh God, ease our suffering in this, our moment of great despair. Yea, admit this good and decent woman into thine arms in the flock in thine heavenly area, up there. And Moab, he laid it down by the band of the Canaanites, and yea, though the Hindus speak of karma, I implore you: give her… give her a break” – Clark
What gets lost in the discussion of National Lampoon’s Vacation is what a dark film this actually is. Animal abuse, adultery, incest and death are all mined in the film for laughs. Utilizing these elements in a cinematic road trip was previously unheard of, and Vacation‘s mixture of laughs with edginess remains one of its strongest selling points.
“Sorry folks, the park’s closed. The moose out front should’ve told you.” – Lasky
Even in a supporting role as an awkward Walley World security guard, John Candy shines. Here is arguably his most memorable moment. Although, him trying not to vomit while aboard the roller coaster is pretty stellar too.
“I think you’re all f*cked in the head. We’re ten hours from the f*cking fun park and you want to bail out. Well I’ll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun. We’re all gonna have so much f*cking fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our g*ddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling “Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah” out of your a**holes! I must be crazy! I’m on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy S*it!” – Clark
I’ll wrap things up with this classic scene that proves that no one delivers a comedic meltdown quite as well as circa-1980s Chevy Chase.