Five movies to help you remember when Chevy Chase was funny

Chevy Chase's appearance at the Fox Theater Friday for a screening of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and chat about his career sold out so quickly that many probably didn't even know the show was happening before they were too late to buy tickets.

You could simply watch your worn-out VHS tape of the 1989 holiday favorite, but let me suggest that your time would be better spent watching one of Chase's other movies. I mean, Christmas Vacation isn't even the best movie featuring Chase as Clark W. Griswold. Here are some alternative flicks from Chase's heyday to enjoy this weekend:

Chase's first movie after becoming a star on Saturday Night Live, Foul Play blends slapstick comedy with some action-adventure vibes as policeman Chase and librarian Goldie Hawn team up to stop an assination attempt on the pope in San Francisco. Featuring foul-mouthed dwarfs, albino mobster hitmen and a Dudley Moore cameo that still kills.

Penned by Neil Simon, this romantic comedy again teams Chase and Hawn as exes — he's a writer kidnapped from his cabin and then falsely accused of a crime, she's a public defender married to a candidate for governor (Charles Grodin). When Chase turns to Hawn for help, hijinks and a rekindled flame ensue. Fluffy good fun.

his isn't included because Chase plays an investigative reporter taking down dirty, drug-dealing cops on Venice Beach. No, it's the litany of memorable one-liners ("It's all ball bearings nowadays!" "You using the whole fist, doc?") and Chase's ease playing a slew of aliases as he goes undercover — from country clubber to beach bum to Los Angeles Laker. Wait, that last one was a dream sequence.

For some reason the '80s was rich in shows about couples moving to unfamiliar environs (The 'Burbs being the best). In this one, Chase is a sports writer who quits his job to move to the Vermont countryside with his wife (Madolyn Smith) to write a novel. His descent into madness begins when the movers' truck gets lost, and watching Chase melt down as his dream life falls to pieces is extremely Griswoldian.

Yes, this choice is an obvious one, but there's no denying the best Chevy Chase movie of them all. Released in 1983, it relies less on physical slapstick than Christmas Vacation, and has far better characters and more laughs thanks to the presence of legends like Imogene Coca, Eugene Levy and John Candy filling even the minor roles. Even Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) is better — probably because there's less of him. ♦

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About The Author

Dan Nailen

Dan Nailen is the managing editor of the Inlander, where he oversees coverage of arts and culture. He's previously written and edited for The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City Weekly, Missoula Independent, Salt Lake Magazine, The Oregonian and KUER-FM. He grew up seeing the country in an Air Force family and studied...