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Travel Movie Tuesday: 'National Lampoon's Vacation' and the Great American Road Trip

June 17, 2014 at 10:22 AM | by | ()

From Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck falling in love in Rome to Julia Roberts circling the globe to find herself, film has played an important role in shaping both the golden years and current day of travel. Thus, we present our newest series, Travel Movie Tuesday, where we detail the most inspiring travel films.

Whether you like it or not, we are quickly approaching the thick of family vacation season. This time of the year typically involves packing up the car, filling an Igloo cooler, and hitting the great American highway system to see a new part of this wonderful country. For the silly side of the tradition, there's no better film than 'National Lampoon's Vacation' to show the good, bad and the ugly...in a stationwagon. In the 1980s.

Comedian Chevy Chase stars as Clark Griswald, a father wrapped up in the process of taking his family of four on a family trip from Chicago to the Los Angeles Area to visit "America's Favorite Family Fun Park," Wally World. It's a fictional theme park with a cartoon moose at the helm of all of the fun. After a discussion with his wife, Ellen (played by Beverly D'Angelo), where she recommends flying, the patriarch decides to drive; obviously, a movie about the perils of a family vacation wouldn't be as funny on a 4-hour flight.

When one thing after another goes wrong, Clark begins to not only regret his choice of driving, but resent his family. Although his ego, preconceived notions of the vacation, and libido all keep his internal GPS on the sights of spending quality time with the family, Clark finally caves to the pressure of making the perfect road trip. Even a few traumatic situations with Ellen's Aunt Edna and the family dog, a Dukes of Hazzard-style car crash, or highway distraction by Christie Brinkley in a red Ferrari won't stop Clark from enjoying this vacation and showing his family that driving was the best choice.

Finally, after a very brief stop at the Grand Canyon, the Griswalds make it to Wally World (actually Six Flags Magic Mountain) but not without one more hilarious scene of mishaps.

If you haven't seen this classic 1983 flick, we won't ruin any more of the best parts. Just be prepared to laugh and even reminisce back on any sing-along filled road trips of your youth. For those movie buffs who can't get enough of this kind of film, check out the sequels: European Vacation and Christmas Vacation. We very rarely say this, but this couldn't have been half as entertaining if they had just flown.

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