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Face-Off: National Lampoon's Vacation vs. The Great Outdoors

07.27.2015by: Brian Bitner
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Since Hollywood isn't bothering to give movies unique titles anymore, the upcoming sequel/reboot to 1983's VACATION is called, you guessed it, VACATION. While it'll be interesting to see how the new generation of Griswolds fares, I doubt there will ever be anything quite like a John Hughes-scripted family outing. In honor of the late filmmaker, this week's Face-Off sees how two of the classics hold up against each other: VACATION vs. THE GREAT OUTDOORS.
PLOT
The Griswold family heads from Chicago to California's Walley World for a wholesome family vacation. Countless obstacles keep them from smoothly reaching their destination.
The Ripley family heads from Chicago to a Wisconsin lake resort for a quiet getaway. Trouble arises when unwanted family members come to stay.
DAD
Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase): A fun to watch, overly optimistic jackass who spends more time fantasizing about another woman than trying to keep his family safe.
Chet Ripley (John Candy): A genuine good guy who wants nothing but to make happy memories for his family and have some fun along the way.
MOM
Ellen Griswold (Beverly D'Angelo): A perky, sexy character who puts up with a hell of a lot from her dolt of a husband. In the midst of all the chaos, she still tries to show the kids see the good side of every situation.
Connie Ripley (Stephanie Faracy): A lovely wife and mother with an adventurous side. Unfortunately, she's given too little to do in this movie to be a real standout character.
KIDS
Rusty & Audrey (Anthony Michael Hall & Dana Barron): Our first glimpse at the two ever-changing siblings. They don't have a lot to do in this movie, but they are fleshed out and fun to watch in true John Hughes fashion.
Ben & Buck (Ian Giatti & Chris Young): These two are much more two-dimensional than their VACATION counterparts, but Buck's love story with local waitress Cammie is one of the few narrative threads tying the film together.
UNFORTUNATE RELATIVES
Cousins Eddie & Catherine (Randy Quaid & Miriam Flynn), a slew of not-quite-right children, and the dreaded Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca). VACATION is intended to be a low comedy franchise, but the whole Cousin Eddie brood takes it lower than necessary.
Roman & Katie Craig (Dan Aykroyd & Annette Bening) and their creepy twins. Roman is really the force propelling this movie forward, and his admission of money trouble allows for one of the few sobering moments in either of these films.
COMEDY
VACATION features a lot of obvious and extreme humor, but the subtle, blink-and-you-miss-it moments are what keep the movie fresh today. The constant change of venue allows for different types of humor, even if many of them seem stale by today's standards.
Other than Buck's dalliance and the finale with the bald-headed bear, THE GREAT OUTDOORS relies wholly on one simple formula: Chet wants to do something simple, Roman complicates it somehow, and Chet suffers as a result.
DIRECTOR
Vacation
Neither of these films hold up terribly well today, but THE GREAT OUTDOORS really feels like one long gag with some heartwarming moments, while VACATION at least offers a change of scenery and several small adventures along the way. I grew up loving THE GREAT OUTDOORS, and normally I'd be a sucker for the movie that at least attempts a dramatic moment or two, but there's a reason VACATION launched a franchise, and THE GREAT OUTDOORS only hits home with those of us who grew up with it.

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at brianbitner@joblo.com.

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9:57AM on 07/29/2015

Was There Ever Any Doubt?

Vacation by a landslide.
Vacation by a landslide.
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6:44PM on 07/28/2015

Vacation

Much funnier movies & plus The Great Outdoors really drags in some parts.
Much funnier movies & plus The Great Outdoors really drags in some parts.
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5:13PM on 07/28/2015
Vacation
Vacation
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3:46PM on 07/28/2015
Is this even a contest?!? Vacation has three sequels and now a reboot. The Great Outdoors is about as forgotten as the majority of the actor's (outside of Candy and Ackroyd's) careers who were in it.
Is this even a contest?!? Vacation has three sequels and now a reboot. The Great Outdoors is about as forgotten as the majority of the actor's (outside of Candy and Ackroyd's) careers who were in it.
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3:10PM on 07/28/2015

Hard choice John Candy is in BOTH!!!

I love them both but Vacation does have the edge, having a deceased Imogen Coca strapped to the top of the station wagon. Gotta love cadaver humor, yes, I'm looking at you Weekend at Bernie's and your inferior sequel.
I love them both but Vacation does have the edge, having a deceased Imogen Coca strapped to the top of the station wagon. Gotta love cadaver humor, yes, I'm looking at you Weekend at Bernie's and your inferior sequel.
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11:31AM on 07/28/2015
Vacation, and I'm pretty sure it holds up today
Vacation, and I'm pretty sure it holds up today
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12:49AM on 07/28/2015
Sorry gotta give all categories to Vacation especially Relatives. Cousin Eddie is one of the most classic fucked up but hilarious relatives of any movie ever. I can't even recall the names of the relatives in the Great outdoors. if you didn't list them I wouldn't have known their names without going to IMDB. Eddie, well who can forget Eddie.
Sorry gotta give all categories to Vacation especially Relatives. Cousin Eddie is one of the most classic fucked up but hilarious relatives of any movie ever. I can't even recall the names of the relatives in the Great outdoors. if you didn't list them I wouldn't have known their names without going to IMDB. Eddie, well who can forget Eddie.
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10:52PM on 07/27/2015
Vacation.
Vacation.
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10:40PM on 07/27/2015
Vacation for me. It holds up better than The Great Outdoors.
Vacation for me. It holds up better than The Great Outdoors.
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