By J.D. Cook
Our #3 Christmas Film
Released: December 1st 1989
Directed by: Jeremiah Chechik
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Is there a funnier Christmas film than National Lampoons Christmas Vacation? The film keeps the formula together for the third entry in the Vacation series. The film follows the Griswold clan as they prepare and celebrate ‘a good old fashioned family Christmas’. Instead of the song ‘Holiday Road’ we hear ‘Christmas Vacation’ replacing it early in the film. Chevy Chase plays the role he will probably be best remembered for as Clark Griswold; the father who overdoes everything from obtaining a Christmas tree to decorating his house. The incredibly beautiful Beverly D’Angelo plays his wife who copes with all of the family chaos while solving the mystery of why the Christmas lights would not operate. She is the glue that holds the family together. My favorite scene in this film is when Clark is trapped in the attic of his house due to his in-laws. While trying to keep warm in his heat-less attic he finds film reels of his past family Christmases and watches them. It’s a touching scene as he reflects on his Christmases as a child only to hilariously collide with his wife when she opens the attic door he is sitting on.
The character most people believe steals the show is Randy Quaid’s character Cousin Eddie. He is an unintelligent poor dope. He lets his dog destroy the trash, empties his septic tank in the storm drain, kidnaps Clark’s boss and has Clark buy a Christmas present for himself with the money he was using to help Eddie buy presents for his kids. All of this is pretty amusing to watch. What makes Christmas Vacation so touching and heartwarming is that it fairly accurately reflects how horrible the holidays can be. The stresses of family coming together can make us all go a little nutty but at the end of the day despite all the crazy Christmas hijinks you feel like the Griswold’s end the night happy in some strange way as they sing the Star Spangled Banner with their mentally vacant Aunt Bethany (played by Mae Questal). It is probably the only Christmas film I know I have seen literally every year for the holiday. Once Clark goes totally wacky we get some great lines. I’ll end with this quote.
“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse”.