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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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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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