I'd always heard about the National Lampoon movies, spin-offs from the original magazine, I'd seen Animal House, but I'd never seen Vacation movies, so I started from the beginning, written by John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Home Alone, Beethoven), directed by Harold Ramis (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Analyze This, Bedazzled). Basically Chicago food chemist Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wants to spend quality time with his wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and children, son Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and daughter Audrey Griswold (Dana Barron). Clark decides to lead the family on a cross-country expedition, travelling from the suburbs of Chicago to southern California, to "America's Favorite Family Fun Park", amusement park Walley World. Ellen wants to fly, but Clark insists on driving, so he can bond with his family, he has ordered a new car in preparation for the trip, but the Salesman (Eugene Levy) says it will not be ready for six weeks. As Clark has already traded the car he brought, and it has already been hauled away and crushed, he is forced to accept a Wagon Queen Family Truckster, an ugly, out-sized station wagon. During the trip, the Griswolds experience several mishaps, including being tagged by vandals in St. Louis, and Clark is continually tantalised by a beautiful young woman (Christie Brinkley) driving a flashy red 1983 Ferrari. They stop in Coolidge, Kansas to visit Ellen's cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn) and her husband Eddie (Randy Quaid), they ask the Griswolds to drop off cranky Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) and her mean dog Dinky at her son's home in Phoenix, they reluctantly agree. The family stop in Colorado for the night at a decrepit and dirty campground, Clark forgets to untie the dog's leash from the car bumper, and in the morning unintentionally kills Dinky, a state trooper lectures Clark on animal cruelty, and Edna becomes irate. Ellen loses her bag after they leave Colorado, forcing Clark to have to cash a check for future payment, Clark and Ellen argue in the car, then they crash somewhere between Utah and Arizona, they are stranded in the desert. Clark sets off alone to find help, unaware that the rest of the family have been rescued by a passing mechanic, they reunite, and the mechanic extorts the rest of Clark's cash to repair the car, which is barely operational. They are frustrated and stop at the Grand Canyon, Clark is unable to convince a clerk at a hotel to cash a personal check, because his card was reported stolen, so Clarks takes from the cash register behind the clerk's back and leaves the check. Back on the road, the family find out that Aunt Edna has passed away in her sleep, they wrap her body in tarpaulin and tie her to the roof of the car, they reach Norman's house, but discover he is out of town, so they leave Edna's body at the back door. Ellen and the children have had enough of the road trip and the numerous mishaps, they want to go home, but Clark has become obsessed with reaching Walley World, they carry on. Ellen and Clark have another argument, he goes to a hotel bar, there he finally meets the Ferrari-driving blonde beauty, she invites him to go skinny-dipping with her in the pool, but the family discover them before anything else can happen, Ellen forgives Clark, and the couple goes skinny-dipping as well. Despite the many misfortunes, the family finally arrive at the theme park, only to find it is closed for the next two weeks for repairs, causing Clark to finally slip into madness, he buys a realistic-looking BB gun, and demands park security guard Russ Lasky (John Candy) take the family through Walley World. While Clark, Ellen, the kids and Russ ride the various roller coasters and rides, an LAPD SWAT have been called, along with park owner Roy Walley (Home Alone 2's Eddie Bracken), but Roy understands Clark's impassioned longing for a perfect vacation, he decides not press charges, Roy allows the Griswolds to enjoy the park, along with the SWAT team. Also starring James Keach as Motorcycle Cop, Licence to Kill's Frank McRae as Grover, Jane Krakowski as Cousin Vicki and Henry Gibson as Hotel Clerk. Chase is terrific as the accident-prone father who will do whatever it takes to reach the destination, no matter how insane, D'Angelo is good support as his tested wife, and there are memorable scenes with Candy, Levy and Brinkley. It is a simple premise, a road movie gone wrong, with various slapstick disaster moments, it is most funny to see how far the dad goes as he slowly cracks, and the silliness is well-paced, this is always considered as the best in the Vacation series, understandably so, a fun comedy. Good!