Chevy Chase movies aren’t exactly the stuff of cinematic legend, but if one focuses on the high points, then it’s hard to ignore National Lampoon’s Vacation, the surprisingly dark comedy about an overbearing father who drags his family on a hellish cross-country road trip in the name of fun. Chase holds it all together with maybe the best performance of his career: playing a man so committed to making the best of a bad time, he just might be going insane. Vacation opened today in 1983.
While we’re on the subject of funnymen, we should also mention The Mask: one of the breakout films that made Jim Carrey (and Cameron Diaz, for that matter) a big star. The two are absolutely on fire in an oddball comic book adaptation based on the Dark Horse line, about a mask that turns whoever wears it into an id-driven Tex Avery cartoon. It opened today in 1994, and if you need a break from traditional superhero movies, we can’t recommend it more.