The Leader 12/2/1989

Matthew J. Mencke | Staff Writer

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation started playing at theatres everywhere on Dec. 1. The movie stars Chevy Chase and is drawing a lot of viewers. It is the third movie in the vacation series. This movie marks the last of Chase’s movies of the decade.

Cornelius Crane (Chevy Chase) has acted in some of the finest movies in the 1980s. His great acting ability, and excellent sense of humor make him one of the finest on the big screen.

Most movies are rated on a star system: one star is given to a poor movie, two stars are given to a fair movie, three stars indicate a good movie, and four stars is the rating given to an excellent movie. In this review of Chase movies, I will use the star system, as interpreted by Leonard Maltin, one of the nation’s most respected film critics.

The Dollar System

Nowadays, watching a movie can be a very expensive experience. Going into a theatre for a late show can put a big dent in your pocketbook. Even some rentals can deplete your funds. For this reason, I have invented additional means for rating movies: the dollar system. The dollar system simply states how much money I would spend to see a movie. Every dollar sign indicated one dollar.

Here are five of Chase’s movies of the 1980s rated with both the star and dollar system.

5-Fletch Lives (1989) **, $$$$

This sequel is very well done, but is a bit shy of its prequel. Chase plays the part of I.M. Fletcher, an investigative reporter who has inherited a mansion in the deep south. His first night in the south puts him into a heap of trouble. After sleeping with the attorney that showed him his land, he wakes up only to find her dead. He used many aliases including: Billy Gene King, a bug exterminator, Peggy Lee Zorba, a cleaning lady, and Ed Harley, owner of Harley Davidson motorcycles. Chases dodges all of the obstacles thrown at him with hilarious one liners. One of the more humorous parts is when Chase is featured on a TV evangelist show as a guest healer. It ends happily and leaves you with the feeling that you got your money’s worth.

4-Seems Like Old Times (1980) ***, $$$$

This movie also features Chase as a writer. He is kidnapped and forced to rob a bank, where a surveillance camera gets a good picture of him. With everyone after him, he looks for comfort in the arms of his attorney ex-wife (played by Goldie Hawn). The best part of this movie is definitely the first ten minutes. Within that time span, Chase blurts out some of the funniest lines from any movie. If you haven’t cracked a smile before the first 20 minutes are over, you obviously don’t know good comedy. The movie moves along at a fair pace with Chase bulling his way through all the way up to the pointless but funny ending.

“If you haven’t cracked a smile before the first 20 minutes are over, you obviously don’t know good comedy.”

3-Caddyshack (1980) **, $$$$ ½

This movie yields an all-star cast including: Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, and Ted Knight. Chase plays the part of a golfer who is pretty carefree. He takes a caddy, Danny Noonan, (played by Michael O’Keefe) under his wing and shows him the ropes about golf. The movie ends with a doubles golf match that has a lot of money on the line. Chase’s partner (Dangerfield) has a fluke injury and Noonan fills in. This is still a classic film after nine years.

2-National Lampoons Vacation (1983) ***, $$$$ ½

This film is one that the whole family can enjoy. Chase is the father of the Grizwald family. They drive on a long trip to Wally World (a takeoff of Disney World) for their vacation. On the way, they make some planned stops, as well as a few unplanned ones. In one part, the Grizwalds stop in at some relative’s house and wind up bringing Aunt Edna, an old senile woman, along with them for part of the trip. From the opening scene where Chase is buying the family truckstar, a butt ugly station wagon, to the very end when they finally reach Wally World, which is closed, this movie is a roll. This show has more family fun than any other movie.

1-Fletch (1985) **, $$$$$

This is Chase’s best performance of the decade, and might be the best comedy by any actor in the 1980s. It features Chase as an investigative reporter named I.M. Fletcher. Alan Stanwyck (played by Tim Matheson) a seemingly rich man, asks Chase to murder him, for $50,000. Chase travels all around the country disguising himself and slyly getting clues by outsmarting everyone else. Some of his aliases in this film include Dr. Rosenrosen, Ted Nugent, and Gordon Liddy. Throughout all of this he uses hundreds of gut-busting lines, making it impossible to catch them all during the first viewing. One of the many funny parts is when Chase dreams he is a professional basketball player. He dreams that Magic Johnson is praising him for superior play. This film gets better and funnier every single time you see it. It makes for excellent conversation and is always good for a laugh a minute.

With five movies like these, one has to conclude that Chase is definitely one of the best of this decade. Watch out for Chase in the 90s both on the big screen and on Hollywood’s walk of fame.