I am Clark Griswold. Like an Alcoholics Anonymous confession to start a meeting, knowing you have a problem is half the battle. Like the father character played by Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation, I am getting ready to take my family on a road trip to California. Also like Clark I have planned plenty of stops along the way, because as Clark says “getting there is half the fun.”
Watching the film again as trip preparation I realize just as Clark neurotically plans his own cross country odyssey from Chicago to Walley World I too have the same over planning gene (sadly I have also been compared to Julie the Cruise Director on the Love Boat so I would actually prefer the Clark Griswold reference). While our trip gladly will skip some aspects of the Griswold itinerary like a visit to the St. Louis ghetto and a trip to the relatives to pick up Aunt Etna which leads to a side trip to Phoenix, there are many elements that will be included in our trip including the landscapes of Colorado and Utah (our dog will do better I promise you then Dinky’s fate in the film) and a culmination in a visit to Magic Mountain which played Walley World in the film. Hopefully our trip does not go off the tracks like the Griswold’s vacation does turning me from the neurotic on the edge suburban Dad to the John Candy security guard kidnapper with a pellet gun at the end.
Even if you don’t have a family road trip planned for the summer, I do recommend the Vacation film as something you should go back and watch. Whether it be the Christie Brinkley as the siren in the red Ferrari, Anthony Michael Hall as son Rusty before his brat pack days, the uncomfortable relatives led by cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), and the final scenes at Walley World this movie has all sorts of classic moments. I had almost forgotten that this movie was a John Hughes film done before he started his classic run of Sixteen Candles, the Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Some Kind of Wonderful that pretty much documented my growing up in the eighties. That alone makes it a reason to understand the beginning of that stretch of films that characterized many of my teenage trips to the movies.