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National Lampoon's Vacation (film series)

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Title: National Lampoon's Vacation (film series)  
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Subject: Blue Harvest, National Lampoon's Vacation (film series), RoboDoc, Cattle Call, National Lampoon (magazine)
Collection: Comedy Films by Series, Films About Vacationing, National Lampoon's Vacation (Film Series)
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National Lampoon's Vacation (film series)

National Lampoon's Vacation
Directed by Harold Ramis (1)
Amy Heckerling (2)
Jeremiah Chechik (3)
Stephen Kessler (4)
Produced by Matty Simmons (13)
John Hughes (3)
Jerry Weintraub (4)
Screenplay by John Hughes (13)
Robert Klane (2)
Elisa Bell (4)
Based on National Lampoon magazine
Starring Chevy Chase
Beverly D'Angelo
(See below)
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates 1983–1997
Country United States
Language English
Box office Total (4 films):

The National Lampoon's Vacation film series is a comedy film series initially based on John Hughes' short story "Vacation '58" that was originally published by National Lampoon magazine. The series is distributed by Warner Bros. and consists of four theatrical films and one made-for-television spin-off film. In recent years, the series has been the inspiration for various advertising campaigns featuring some of the original cast members. The series portrays the misadventures of the Griswold family, whose attempts to enjoy vacations and holidays are plagued with continual disasters and strangely ridiculous predicaments.


  • History 1
    • Development 1.1
    • Casting 1.2
    • Unproduced scripts 1.3
    • Reboot 1.4
  • Films 2
    • National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) 2.1
    • National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985) 2.2
    • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) 2.3
    • Vegas Vacation (1997) 2.4
  • Other 3
    • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2 (2003) 3.1
    • Hotel Hell Vacation (2010) 3.2
    • Old Navy ad campaign (2012) 3.3
  • Continuity and recurring elements 4
    • The Griswold children 4.1
    • Eddie and Catherine Johnson 4.2
    • Walley World 4.3
    • Clark's tirades 4.4
    • The girl in the red Ferrari 4.5
  • Cast 5
  • Reception 6
    • Box office 6.1
    • Critical response 6.2
    • Legacy 6.3
  • Appearance in Popular Culture 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10



After the success of National Lampoon's Animal House in 1978, it was decided that another story from the National Lampoon magazine should be adapted into a film.[1] One of such stories chosen for development was John Hughes' "Vacation '58" that was originally published in the September 1979 issue of National Lampoon. Hughes wrote the screenplay for the first Vacation film as "a fairly straight adaptation of the short story," with the exception of the ending that was rewritten and reshot after being "thoroughly despised by preview audiences."[2] In addition to Hughes, Vacation involved the crew of many people connected to National Lampoon. The film was produced by Lampoon co-founder and Animal House producer, Matty Simmons, and directed by Lampoon alumnus and Animal House co-writer Harold Ramis.

Released on July 29, 1983, National Lampoon's Vacation proved to be a financial and critical success. Simmons went on to produce two sequels, with scripts by Hughes. While involved with the early stages of a third sequel, Vegas Vacation, Simmons resigned from production due to creative differences.[3] As a result, the film was made without the "National Lampoon" title.

During an interview on the TBS series Dinner and a Movie, Beverly D'Angelo revealed that due to the success of Animal House, the original Vacation was envisioned as a raunchier R-rated comedy targeting young adults.[4] This was principally the reason for nudity such as D'Angelo's shower scene and Chase's profanity-laced tirades and pool scene with Christie Brinkley. However, the movie's success with larger family audiences who identified with Chase's everyman-father character caught the filmmakers by surprise. As a result, subsequent sequels were toned down and family friendly, with PG-13 or PG ratings.


Just like John Belushi, who starred in Animal House, Chevy Chase had previously performed in the National Lampoon Radio Hour and in the stage show National Lampoon Lemmings, both of which were spin-offs from National Lampoon magazine.[5]

In each of the main films of the series, the Griswold children are portrayed by different actors. This is usually attributed to the fact that after Anthony Michael Hall declined to reprise his role in European Vacation in order to star in Weird Science, it was decided to recast both children. Chase has indicated that it was his idea to continue recasting the children by explaining, "I always wanted to make the joke, 'Geez, I hardly ever get the chance to see the kids anymore. I hardly know who they are. We should go on a vacation.' That was funny to me: the idea that Clark was such a great family man, but still didn't even recognize his own children."[6]

Unproduced scripts

Shortly after making European Vacation, Chase and Eric Idle began to write a script for a follow up called National Lampoon's Australian Vacation.[7] According to Idle, "We spent some time working together on it. It had some nice shark gags, but I can't pretend it was in any way finished."[8] The concept of Australian Vacation resurfaced in the 90s as a potential fifth installment of the series, but nothing ever came of it.[9]

Prior to the confirmed plans of New Line Cinema rebooting the series, Chase made note that he has developed another sequel tentatively titled Swiss Family Griswold.[10] In 2011, Chase revealed that he and Beverly D'Angelo have been working on the idea. He explained, "There’s a cruise, there’s a fire on the ship, we think the whole ship’s on fire and we jump —- it’s just a little fire —- and we end up on an island where we meet Randy somewhere who’s been left there from an old Survivor series."[11]


In 2010, it was announced by New Line Cinema (owned by Warner Bros., which released the previous films) that a new Vacation film was being produced.[12] Originally set to be produced by David Dobkin and written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the story was to focus on Rusty Griswold as he took his own family to Walley World before the theme park permanently closes.[12]

In July 2012, it was announced that Ed Helms will star in Theme Park Vacation as Rusty Griswold. The film is to follow Rusty, who now has his own family misadventures on the road.[13] John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein will write and direct the film, which is scheduled to begin filming in June 2013 throughout Atlanta and New Mexico.[14] On March 28, 2013, Variety announced that original series stars D'Angelo and Chase were in talks to reprise their roles, most likely in the form of a torch-passing cameo role. No mention was made of other series regulars such as Randy Quaid's Cousin Eddie.[12] Chris Hemsworth and Charlie Day will also star as Stone Crandall and Day as a guide who takes the Griswold clan on a river rafting adventure.[15] Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins will star as Rusty Griswold's sons along with Helms and Christina Applegate.[16]

On September 16, 2014, it was announced that

  • "Vacation '58" by John Hughes at
  • "Christmas '59" by John Hughes at

External links

  1. ^ "An Interview with National Lampoon CEO Daniel Laikin".  
  2. ^ Hughes, John. "Vacation '58 / Foreword '08".  
  3. ^ Patrizio, Andy (October 31, 2003). "An Interview with Matty Simmons".  
  4. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (August 6, 1999). "Time for a Vacation!".  
  5. ^ Evans, Bradford (April 10, 2012). "Talking to Matty Simmons About Producing Animal House, Publishing National Lampoon, and His New Book Fat, Drunk, and Stupid".  
  6. ^ Jones, Nate (November 18, 2010). "Q&A: Chevy Chase on Community and How to Fix SNL".  
  7. ^ Robert Ross (1997). Monty Python Encyclopedia. TV Books. p. 192.  
  8. ^ Kim Johnson (1993). Life Before and After Monty Python: The Solo Flights of the Flying Circus. St. Martin's Press.  
  9. ^ Evans, Bradford (September 22, 2011). "The Lost Roles of Chevy Chase".  
  10. ^ Ravitz, Justin (June 3, 2007). "Actor Chevy Chase Has New 'Vacation' Movie Idea".  
  11. ^ Weintraub, Steve (August 24, 2011). "Chevy Chase Talks VACATION Reboot and FLETCH, Says He’s Written a Script for New VACATION". Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Siegel, Tatiana (February 10, 2010). "'"New Line ready for another 'Vacation.  
  13. ^ "Ed Helms to Play Rusty Griswold in New Vacation".  
  14. ^ Chitwood, Adam (March 6, 2013). "John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein Talk VACATION and SECRET HISTORIES; Reveal VACATION Starts Filming in June in Atlanta and New Mexico". Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Chris Hemsworth & Charlie Day Taking a 'Vacation' with Ed Helms". 
  16. ^ "New Line Casts Rusty Griswold’s Kids in ‘Vacation’ Reboot". 
  17. ^ "Leslie Mann Joins New Line’s ‘Vacation’ Sequel as Audrey Griswold". 
  18. ^ "The 'Vacation' Reboot Is Shooting Now, and Leslie Mann May Join". 
  19. ^ "Exclusive: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo to Reprise Vacation Roles".  
  20. ^ "National Lampoon Movies at the Box Office".  
  21. ^ "National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)".  
  22. ^ "National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)".  
  23. ^ "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)".  
  24. ^ "Vegas Vacation (1997)".  
  25. ^ "National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)".  
  26. ^ "National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)".  
  27. ^ "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)".  
  28. ^ "Vegas Vacation (1997)".  
  29. ^ "Vegas Vacation: Reviews".  
  30. ^ "America's Funniest Movies".  
  31. ^ "Yule Love 'Em".  
  32. ^ Durrett, Mike. "Top 10 Christmas and New Year's Comedy Movies".  
  33. ^ Leo, Alex (December 16, 2012). "The 10 Funniest Christmas Movies Of All Time".  


See also

In the Family Guy episode Blue Harvest, the Griswold Family is seen driving past the Death Star during the battle at the end.

Appearance in Popular Culture

In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted National Lampoon's Vacation as the 46th greatest comedy film of all time. The film was also nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs list in 2000.[30] It is widely considered to be the best film in National Lampoon's series of Vacation films, and continues to be a popular film and a staple on cable television channels. Christmas Vacation has additionally become a television staple, especially during the holiday season, as it is often been labeled as a contemporary Christmas classic.[31][32][33]


Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
National Lampoon's Vacation 94% (36 reviews)[25]
National Lampoon's European Vacation 38% (21 reviews)[26]
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 63% (35 reviews)[27]
Vegas Vacation 13% (30 reviews)[28] 20 (10 reviews)[29]
Average ratings 52% 20

Critical response

Film Release date Box office revenue Budget Reference
Domestic Foreign Worldwide
National Lampoon's Vacation July 29, 1983 $61,399,552 $61,399,552 $15,000,000 [21]
National Lampoon's European Vacation July 26, 1985 $49,364,621 $49,364,621 $15,000,000 [22]
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation December 1, 1989 $71,319,526 $71,319,526 $27,000,000 [23]
Vegas Vacation February 14, 1997 $36,400,360 $36,400,360 $25,000,000 [24]
Total $218,484,059 $218,484,059 $82,000,000

Without being adjusted for inflation, the profit earned by the individual Vacation films follow behind National Lampoon's Animal House as the highest grossing films of the National Lampoon brand.[20]

When released in 1983, National Lampoon's Vacation was a significant box-office hit. The film earned over $61 million in the United States with an estimated budget of $15 million.

Box office


Character Film TV Film Short Film
Vacation European Vacation Christmas Vacation Vegas Vacation Vacation Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure Hotel Hell Vacation
The Griswolds
Clark W. Griswold, Jr. Chevy Chase Chevy Chase
Ellen Griswold Beverly D'Angelo Beverly D'Angelo
Russell 'Rusty' Griswold Anthony Michael Hall Jason Lively Johnny Galecki Ethan Embry Ed Helms Travis Greer
Audrey Griswold Dana Barron Dana Hill Juliette Lewis Marisol Nichols Leslie Mann Dana Barron
Debbie Griswold Christina Applegate
Stone Crandall Chris Hemsworth
James Griswold Skyler Gisondo
Kevin Griswold Steele Stebbins
The Johnsons
Edward 'Eddie' Johnson Randy Quaid Randy Quaid Randy Quaid
Catherine Johnson Miriam Flynn Miriam Flynn Miriam Flynn
Cousin Vicki Jane Krakowski Shae D'Lyn
Cousin Dale John P. Navin Jr.
Cousin Daisy Mabel Violet Ramis
Cousin Ruby Sue Ellen Hamilton Latzen Juliette Brewer
Cousin Rocky Cody Burger
Cousin Denny Zach Moyes
Cousin Clark 'Third' Johnson Jake Thomas


In the first Vacation film Clark sees a sexy woman driving a red Ferrari. He then encounters her at a hotel and his attempts to seduce her result in embarrassing failure. In Vegas Vacation, years later, Clark once again drives alongside the same woman, reprised by Christie Brinkley, asking "remember me?" After she responds that she does, Clark spots a baby in the backseat of her convertible.

The girl in the red Ferrari

Clark Griswold is usually very laid back and mild mannered, even in the face of adversity and his family's seeming lack of appreciation for his efforts on their behalf. However, when Clark is pushed beyond the limit of his patience, he tends to lose his temper and go on insane tirades, as seen in the first Vacation, where he lashes out at his family for not wanting to continue the trip. Clark also flips in Christmas Vacation where he gets angry at his relatives because of their wanting to leave, and went into a tirade against his boss.

Clark's tirades

  • In European Vacation, Clark tells his wife and children to be open-minded and respectful of other countries' cultures, reminding them, "This isn't Walley World, it's a country." Clark and Rusty also wear Walley World sweaters at certain points in the film.
  • In Christmas Vacation, Clark and Eddie can be seen drinking eggnog out of glasses shaped like Marty Moose's head (with the cartoonish oversized antlers serving as handles).
  • In Hotel Hell, Rusty can be seen wearing a Marty Moose T-shirt.

Walley World is mentioned in each of the subsequent films following Vacation.

Walley World

Eddie and Catherine have the following named children which are shown: Vicky Johnson, Daisy Mable Johnson, Dale Johnson (Vacation) Rocky Johnson, Ruby Sue Johnson (Christmas Vacation) Denny Johnson (Vegas Vacation) and Clark "Third" Johnson (Christmas Vacation 2); in addition there appear to be several others mentioned in passing.

Eddie and Catherine Johnson

Dana Barron, who was then in her late thirties, reprised the role of Audrey in Christmas Vacation 2 (2003). Rusty is also portrayed as an adult with a wife and daughter in Hotel Hell Vacation (2010).

Aside from the obvious issues with the characters' physical appearances due to being played by different actors, Rusty and Audrey both age on a floating timeline. It is assumed that each film takes place in the year they are actually filmed, as no other indication of time is mentioned and the characters' clothing, cars, and environment are contemporary to the time of each films' releases. In most of the films it is never mentioned which of the two children is older. Rusty and Audrey appear to be in their early teens in Vacation (1983), and in their mid-teens in European Vacation (1985) two years later (at one point in the film, Rusty specifically mentions that he is fifteen years old). However, in Christmas Vacation (1989), while Audrey appears to be in her late teens, Rusty looks younger than he did in the preceding films. Whereas in Vegas Vacation (1997), both children are in their late teens to which Clark tells the kids, "I hardly recognize you anymore!" The next shot freezes for a moment on the kids sitting silently, making fun of the discontinuity.

The Griswold children

Continuity and recurring elements

In November and December 2012, series regulars Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo were featured in a set of commercials for Old Navy. Joining them in one commercial were Juliette Lewis (from Christmas Vacation), Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall (from Vacation), and Jason Lively (from European Vacation); that spot featured three Rustys and three Audreys (including a "new Rusty" and a "new Audrey," both of whom were children).

Old Navy ad campaign (2012)

The film was a campaign ad for HomeAway that originally aired in part during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLIV and in entirety on[19] While it was sanctioned by Warner Bros., it was not sponsored by the National Lampoon label.

Hotel Hell Vacation is a short film directed by Bryan Buckley. On their way to visit their son Rusty and his family at a vacation rental, Clark and Ellen Griswold decide to have a romantic getaway at a hotel before they get there. Everything, however, goes wrong at the hotel for the couple and they hastily make their way to Rusty's rental.

Hotel Hell Vacation (2010)

It can be considered a sequel to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, although it is more of a spin-off than a direct chapter in the Vacation series, because Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo do not appear. It stars Randy Quaid and Miriam Flynn, reprising their roles as Cousin Eddie and Catherine, with Dana Barron returning as Audrey Griswold.

Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure is a made-for-TV spin-off film directed by Nick Marck and written by Matty Simmons. After a workplace accident involving a monkey, Eddie Johnson is given a free vacation for him and his family to an island in the South Pacific. But when Eddie tries to catch a shark during a family boat trip, they become lost and eventually shipwrecked on an isolated island.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2 (2003)


Vegas Vacation was directed by Stephen Kessler and written by Elisa Bell, based on a story by Bell and Bob Ducsay. After receiving a large bonus check, Clark takes his family on vacation to Las Vegas, Nevada. Immediately hitting the blackjack tables, Clark begins to blow all his money, resulting in the family breaking off in their own directions. While Clark tries to regain his money through the help of his cousin-in-law Eddie, Ellen becomes infatuated with Wayne Newton as Rusty wins big at the dice tables and Audrey turns to go-go dancing with her cousin Vicki.

Vegas Vacation (1997)

This was the first film in the series to have made Audrey older than Rusty, now played by Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki respectively.

Christmas Vacation was directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik and written by John Hughes. The film follows Clark Griswold's attempt at delivering "the most fun-filled old-fashioned family Christmas ever." As the Griswold family's dysfunctional relatives begin arriving early, Clark becomes obsessed with ensuring that everything goes right. Meanwhile, Clark is also expecting a large Christmas bonus check that will cover a surprise backyard swimming pool that he already ordered. However, when the Christmas bonuses are cut, Clark instead receives a one-year membership Jelly of the Month Club that causes him to snap and go crazy.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

This was the only Vacation film that did not feature Randy Quaid's "Cousin Eddie" character. In the opening "Pig in a Poke" sequence as well as the film's end credits, the family's name is spelled as "Griswald" as opposed to "Griswold".

European Vacation was directed by Amy Heckerling and written by John Hughes and Robert Klane. After becoming the winning family on a game show called "Pig In A Poke," the Griswolds win a two-week trip to Europe. The vacation begins in London, where the family visits sights such as Big Ben, Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Having trouble with driving on the left side of the road, Clark ends up in many accidents and unknowingly knocks down Stonehenge. From there they stop in France, where their camcorder gets stolen; in West Germany, where they spend the night in the home of strangers they mistake for their relatives; and in Italy, where they become involved with robbery and kidnapping.

National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)

Vacation was directed by Harold Ramis and written by John Hughes. The film follows Clark and Ellen Griswold as they take their two children, Rusty and Audrey, on a cross-country trip from their home in Chicago, Illinois, to the California theme-park Walley World. Planned out by Clark, the trip begins to go awry after getting lost in St. Louis, Missouri. From there, the family makes it to Coolidge, Kansas, where they spend the night at the home of Ellen's cousin Catherine and husband Eddie. There they are forced to take their Aunt Edna and her dog to Phoenix, Arizona. Along the way to Phoenix, Clark accidentally drags Edna's dog from the back of the car and Edna dies during a long day of driving. Dropping Edna's body off at cousin Normy's place in Phoenix, the family soon makes it to Walley World only to find that the park is closed.

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)


Following in his father’s footsteps and hoping for some much-needed family bonding, a grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) surprises his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), and their two sons with a cross-country trip back to America’s “favorite family fun park,” Walley World.

A Synopsis for the film was also released:[18]


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