Split Decision: Vacation, All I Ever Wanted
Welcome back to Split Decision! Each week, we pose a question to our staff of knowledgable and passionate film geeks and share the responses! We may never know if it is legal to park in the center of Broad Street, but we’ll answer movie questions all day long. Chime in on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below!
This week’s question:
In honor of both Spider-Man: Far From Home, Midsommar, and the latest issue of Moviejawn, what is your favorite movie about a summer vacation?
My favorite summer vacation film is Cote d'Azur, (aka Cockels and Mussels), an absolutely aphrodisiacal sex farce set in the French Riviera. Featuring a cast of attractive performers, a couple of fun musical numbers, and beaucoup nudity, this frothy little film is as pleasing as a weekend at the beach. Charly (Romain Torres) does not correct his parents (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Gilbert Melki) when they accidentally think that his best friend Martin (Edouard Collin) is his boyfriend. Both his parents are caught up in their own affairs and deceptions. All of the characters are perpetually horny, which leads to embarrassing erections, self-abuse, showers, and a running joke about hot water. And when Didier (Jean-Marc Barr), a plumber, meets the teens in a cruising area, more romantic complications ensue. The humor is generated by the fact that the audience understands all of the players and their desires, which makes their actions and reactions amusing. The film's point is that being true to oneself, you can find true love. Set against the gorgeous backdrop (I want to vacation in that villa) this souffle-light film is a tonic.
Honorable mention: I recall avoiding The Way Way Back when it played Philly for most of the summer in 2013, and when I finally went to see it late in its run, I loved it. It was a charming little coming-of-age comedy-drama.
I'm also going foreign, and am picking Y Tu Mama Tambien, the ultimate buddy comedy. Two crude dudes take a road trip and see parts of each other they never expected to see.
I think that Stand By Me has to be one of the best summer vacation movies ever. It's also a great "end of summer" movie in that it takes place over the Labor Day weekend, with a crew of boys who are absconding to go find a dead body in Rob Reiner's adaptation of the Stephen King story. It holds up as an essential coming of age story, of the last days of American innocence before Vietnam. Anytime I ever managed to go on a random, spontaenous trip or journey when I was a teen or young adult, with no adults in sight; if it felt like the way this movie feels, it felt great.
I had to write about What About Bob? a wonderfully charming movie in which Bob (Bill Murray) drives his egotistical psychologist (Richard Dreyfuss) out of his mind by ingratiating himself with his family. I do still worry about “What if I'm looking for a bathroom, I can't find one, and my bladder explodes?” even though I’ve been assured it’s not medically possible. Don’t hassle me, I’m local.
I re-watched Nobuhiko Ôbayashi's 1977 Hausu for the first time in a while recently and completely forgot that it is in fact a summer vacation movie! And despite being a bit put off by the movie's leering eye for its cast, I was otherwise pleased to discover it holds up quite well. It's honestly even better than I remember. The special effects feel ahead of their time, the psychedelic tone of the movie is rarely matched in modern horror, and perhaps my favorite thing about it is that the characters are all named for their function in the movie, such as Kung Fu who is one of my all-time favorite movie characters. If you've never seen HAUSU, take the plunge and make this year's summer trip trippy!
Perhaps not the classiest of summer vacation films, but I'm a sucker for National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation. Of the Vacation franchise, it's got my favorite iterations of both Audrey and Rusty (Sorry, I mean Dr. Nick Papagiorgio), and what can I say? I can't resist a good Hoover Dam pun.
The bit where Cousin Eddie takes Clark to a "different" kind of casino, where games like "what number am I thinking of?" ensure that the house doesn't always win (or so Cousin Eddie would have us believe), kills me every time.
Perhaps my favorite bit comes in the form of what we'll call "Deus ex Sid Caesar." The legendary comedian appears as a lucky Kino player who dies (or maaaaybe fakes it) just in time for the Griswolds to take advantage of his winnings.
"I won da money! I won da money!" Classic.