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Parents' Guide to

National Lampoon's Vacation

By Afsheen Nomai, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

1980s family road comedy is dated and crude.

Movie R 1983 99 minutes
National Lampoon's Vacation Movie Poster: Chevy Chase holds luggage

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 22 parent reviews

age 18+

"Hasn't aged well" would be putting it lightly.

Our family absolutely loves Christmas Vacation, and had what we thought were good memories of the first in the "Vacation" series -- holy cow were we wrong! It's full of so many cringe-inducing racist and misogynistic "jokes" that we had to just turn it off after attempting to skip forward to a better part. Turns out, there is no better part. If you do decide to watch it with your kids it should only be as a cautionary tale about how backwards popular culture really was only a few decades ago.
age 12+

Great classic 80's comedy, most 12-year olds should be able to handle it

I was nervous letting my 12 year old watch this, because this was his first R Rated movie, however, it is a lighter R, compared to other R rated films. Cast: Everyone does great. Sex: I believe there are 2 instances of Ellen Griswold's breasts shown, one in a shower scene (a joke where clark is acting like the serial killer from Psycho), and one where Clark and Ellen go skinny dipping in a motel (that one is the shortest and is hard to see). Clark does skinny dip with another female character (not his wife), but no nudity is shown there. Rusty and Eddie's son look at pornographic magazines, and eddie's son proceeds to talk about how he "uses them daily" and that "a man tought me a cool trick to do with them", which is a clear masturbation joke. There is implied incest, and implied oral sex discussed by a couple. There is another masturbation euphemism. Language: There is multiple uses of f--k, f---king (which are both used in a rant by Clark), son of a bitch, a--hole, s--t, retard, and "honky lips" (a joke written by a gang on the griswald's car) Drinking, Drugs, and Smoking: Audrey tells Vicki that being a farmer isn't cool, and Vicki takes out her shoebox of Marijuana, and Audrey takes some. Clark shares a beer with Rusty (his underage son), and Rusty chugs the beer. Characters drink beer throughout, and there is some cigar smoking Violence: There really isn't any, and the few moments there are, its comedic. One character does die, but no blood or gore is shown. Tips: If your sensitive about the nudity and language, there is a network TV version with the shower scene cut out. I think a 12 year old should be just fine watching this, or a sensitive 13 or 14 year old.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (22 ):
Kids say (58 ):

This 1980s comedy has its fun moments. But the offensive humor in National Lampoon's Vacation hasn't aged well (and was never really OK to begin with). The scenes involving Black characters are particularly cringeworthy, and a strong undercurrent of "boys will be boys" excuses Clark's sexist behavior, such as cheating on his wife or holding a Black security officer at gunpoint and telling him to act like a dog. These hijinks are meant to be over the top, but the jokes punch down at anyone who isn't affluent and White. The end result is a time capsule of the 1980s -- both the good and the bad, with a sense of humor that's truly in the eye of the beholder.

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