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It's All about the Journey

A Definitive Ranking of the Griswold Family’s Adventures in the Vacation Franchise

Clark Griswold

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Since 1983, Clark Griswold has come to represent all of our dads. (Maybe literally: Watch the Vacation movies again and you’ll realize that he wanted to have an affair soooo bad. Thanks for ruining our family, dad!)

Regardless of its wishfully adulterous protagonist, the Vacation film franchise is an all-time classic, and each of the six movies — except for two, but we’ll get to that — offer a different sort of off-the-rails, family fun charm that has yet to be replicated because it feels authentic. It’s rare for a family trip to go as awry as the Griswolds’ do, but the frustration, sexual yearning, desire for order and short shorts are all storied elements of the trips we went on as children.

We’re basically trying to rank our own children here, but below is how we believe the Vacation movies to stack up against each other. (Note: We’re not counting the new Vacation reboot/sequel thing currently in theaters. Let us know where that one fits in with the rest of the franchise in the comments.)


6. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure

Clark and Ellen Griswold are nowhere to be found in this movie, which was a made-for-TV vehicle for Randy Quaid that came out in 2003. Uncle Eddie’s family gets shipwrecked on a deserted island. Uncle Eddie loses a game of tic-tac-toe to a monkey…you get the idea. Monty Python’s Eric Idle is in it, so that’s something.


5. Hotel Hell Vacation

Okay, technically this isn’t a movie: it’s literally a 15-minute advertisement for HomeAway.com from 2010. As you can imagine, Clark and Ellen go to a bad hotel and have a bad time. At the very least, seeing white-haired Chevy Chase makes us imagine the possibility of a Vacation story starring his Community character Pierce Hawthorne.


4. European Vacation

The Vacation sequel takes the Griswolds through London, France, Germany and Italy with predictably wacky results. The best parts of this film offer something that none of the others do: a look at Clark as a typically obnoxious American tourist, thinking he has Europe all figured out while a pervy waiter checks out his underage daughter or his wife inadvertently stars in a porn flick.


3. Vegas Vacation

The family’s Las Vegas adventure, which holds a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is criminally underrated. Critics thought the film was the final gasp of a dying franchise, but really, there’s so much going on: Clark and Uncle Eddie digging up dollar bills in the desert, Rusty unable to stop winning cars, and Clark blowing the family’s money at the casinos. He should have known to never go in against a Sicilian.


2. Christmas Vacation

Though technically a stay-cation movie, the Griswold family still has plenty of hilarious holiday-themed adventures in this outing. From rabid squirrels in their Christmas tree to runaway sleds, the seasonal misfortunes pile up to uproarious effect, culminating in what may be the greatest movie freak-out of all time. While ranting about getting a membership to the Jelly-of-the-Month club instead of a big fat check for his Christmas bonus, Clark throws awkward dad insults like “snake-licking” and “dog-kissing” into the mix, and ends on a perfect note: “Hallelujah, holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?”


1. National Lampoon’s Vacation

It’s hard to argue against the movie that established the monolithic franchise. The road to Wally World is paved with all sorts of mishaps that are so memorable, the new movie is basically redoing all of them. It also has a bunch of great subtle jokes, like Rusty downing his “first beer” like a creatine-filled college freshman at a frat house during rush week.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.