The 16 Best Scenes In National Lampoon's Vacation Franchise

This week, a reboot of National Lampoon's Vacation hit theaters, but without the National Lampoon name attached. Of course, the comedy namesake's former magazine editor P.J. O'Rourke seems perfectly fine with that, saying in a guest column at THR that the new take on Vacation is "a summer cineplex dump-fill featuring the Hangover wimp dentist as leading man" and judging by the trailer contains "obvious, pitiful, frenetic, stupid raunchiness." Yeah, he's not a fan.

Frankly, I found the Vacation reboot to be amusing and enjoyable. It has a bit of a sloppy script as far as story progression is concerned, but there are some very big laughs, a few great running gags, solid references to the original movie, and a fantastic performance from Ed Helms, who channels Chevy Chase and his charming naivete the whole way through.

But I'd be lying if I said that I didn't find looking back at the original Vacation, and at least one of the sequels, more entertaining. And that's exactly what I did when I compiled this collection of the 16 Best Scenes from the National Lampoon's Vacation franchise.

See the whole list of National Lampoon's Vacation best scenes after the jump!

My Sandwich Is All Wet

If we're honest, it's the entire running gag with Christie Brinkley (before she was Jerry/Garry/Larry/Terry's wife on Parks & Recreation) in her big screen debut that's one of the most iconic parts of the original Vacation, but for me it's the picnic bit that's the best one. Chevy Chase desperately trying to dance in a cool way with a bologna sandwich is just one of many examples of how he was a master of physical comedy, and the split second when he realizes it's soaked in dog piss is comedy gold.

What Did I Say, Nipple?

It's no highway encounter with Christie Brinkley, but this awkward interaction that Clark Griswold has with a lingerie associate named Mary (no s***?) is a classic. It's scenes like this that show how charming a younger Chevy Chase could be, even when he was casually being adulterous and hitting on store clerks much young than himself.

Mighty Mississippi / Roll'em Up

This scene has been criticized for its portrayal of race, and 22 years later, is outdated at the very least. Clark's optimism and cluelessness is at first the butt of the joke, as he doesn't realize how out of place he is. While the scene maybe isn't meant to be a universal representation of urban areas like this, it still ends up feeding middle-class fears of the inner-city by showing how wrong Clark's approach can be.

Thankfully, the scene is still funny, and a line from Rusty ("wonder if these guys know the Commodores") makes the dated nature of this scene easier to swallow, even showing that he might have inherited some of his father's naivete.

S***ter's Full

Honey, have you checked out s***ters? This line has become so iconic that it's made it onto t-shirts that fans throw on around the holidays when Christmas Vacation plays a dozen times a week across various channels. In fact, it's probably one of the most iconic lines in the entire franchise, and Clark's reaction to it just makes the scene that much better.

National Lampoon's European Vacation

Hey, Look Kids, There's Big Ben!

There's only a couple scenes from the lackluster National Lampoon's European Vacation that made this list, and that's mostly because the film only has clever lines here and there rather than a series of great scenes. But this is one of the more memorable scenes, as the Griswold family ends up stuck in a roundabout in London all day long.

Hallelujah! Holy Sh*t!

In revisiting the entire Vacation franchise, I realized that Chevy Chase is the master of delivering meltdown monologues with just the right amount of crazy. There's actually two great ones in Christmas Vacation, and while this one is certainly more off the hinges than the other, it's the second one (which appears later on this list) that is one of my favorite bits of the entire series. But we'll get to that later.

French Kiss

One might say that this isn't so much a scene from the film as a single line. But since this is easily the weirdest interaction out of all the moments Rusty and Audrey share with their oddball cousins, it stands on its own.

Christmas Lights

Fifty stands of lights, 100 individual bulbs per strand, for a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights. Drum roll, please. This entire scene, from Clark's dismembering of Santa's sleigh and his reindeer to the glorious moment when the lights work is classic holiday fare, but my personal favorite moment comes when Clark goes down the line of family members and gets to Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), "If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be any more surprised than I am now."National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Burn Dust, Eat My Rubber

This might be the single most innocent delivery of the middle finger on film as only Clark Griswold can deliver. Also, it should be noted that the shot of the station wagon situated under the semi-truck shows some pretty damn impressive stunt driving.

When Heading to Rome

The second worthy scene from National Lampoon's European Vacation is one that calls back to the authenticity of the original film, showcasing what it's like to be on a trip with your family. Everyone has shared this moment with the respective family when each one is annoying the hell out of the next.

Dodge City

The Griswolds really are the worst kind of tourists, and having a shotgun blasted at you point blank is a fine lesson to learn for messing with the employees of a tired tourist attraction. This is yet another piece of fantastic evidence of how Chevy Chase can be so funny with just a quick change in the tone of his voice.

Christmas Dinner

Save the neck for me, Clark! Again, part of what makes the original Vacation and Christmas Vacation so great are the genuine portrayals of spending time with your family. In this case, it's Christmas dinner, and the part that always gets me is when Eddie's dog Snot is "yakkin' on a bone," and his nonchalant response after the gross upchuck, "He got it up."

National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation

The Cheap Casino

This is really the only worthy scene that I found in Vegas Vacation as the rest of it is just lame and mostly unfunny. Much like European Vacation, there are some funny lines and very quick moments, but entire scenes of great comedy are hard to come by. Though I would like to point out how much I love the moment in the buffet when Cousin Eddie's eyes roll in the back of his head and he has to slap the metal plate in order to focus again. If I could have found it online, I would have featured it, but no such luck.

I Think You're All F*cked in the Head

Remember when I said Chevy Chase was a master of the meltdown? This is the first example of that in the Vacation franchise, and Christmas Vacation captured it again perfectly. It's Clark Griswold at one of his most unhinged moments.

The Hap-Hap-Happiest Christmas

This is no doubt the jolliest bunch of a**holes this side of the nuthouse. This is absolutely one of my favorite scenes in the entirety of the Vacation franchise, and Chevy Chase's wild-eyed dedication to a good ole family Christmas doesn't get any more scary than this.

First Ones Here!

It just doesn't get any better than this. A moment of glory followed by complete disappointment. But we're given another classic Chevy Chase moment after he punches Marty Moose in the face. Actually, for some reason it was this particular monologue that made me realize that Chase is a master of sparsely and effectively dropping the f-bomb.


After a week of revisiting the Vacation franchise, these are the scenes that I found to be the best out of the entire series. And while Vegas Vacation and European Vacation don't have much to offer upon rewatching, it did help to watch all of them in proximity with one another, if only to see how Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo perfectly get back into character for each and every one. (The same can be said for their appearance in the Vacation reboot as well.)

What are your favorite scenes from the Vacation franchise? Did we miss any?