The Californian

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” brings back laughs

Photo courtesy of IMDb

Mason Allen, Staff Writer

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Christmas is here again and while some might enjoy spending time their typical American Family, I’d rather spend time the Griswalds, and their adventure doesn’t end at Wally World. That’s evident if you’ve seen the 1989 Classic “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’ Angelo, Randy Quaid, Juliette Lewis, and Johnny Galecki.

The movie follows the exploits of Clark Griswald (Chase), his wife Ellen (D’ Angelo), and their children Audrey and Rusty as Clark tries to make this Christmas the best Christmas the Griswald Family has ever had. However his plan becomes a little more complicated when both his and Ellen’s parents and later Ellen’s Cousin Eddie and his family, all show up to celebrate the holidays with their family which adds to Clark’s increasing stress as he is waiting for his annual Christmas bonus check to come which he’s planning to spend on a new swimming pool in his backyard.

The movie is written by John Hughes, who is also known for writing movies such as “The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off”, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, and “Home Alone”. The writing is a really strong point of Christmas Vacation. There’s hardly a moment where a dull joke goes by. Whether Clark is getting a Christmas Tree that obviously won’t fit in the house or Uncle Eddie is talking about the metal plate in his head, or the whole family is being chased by a squirrel that was hiding in the Christmas tree there’s always something to laugh at.

Also like many other John Hughes movies there are several small touches and details you might not have noticed unless you watch it a few times. I can’t go in to all of them but a few particular ones I liked were the fact that the glasses they were drinking eggnog out of are Wally World glasses, a reference to the first vacation movie and the scene where the cops bust in at the end and everybody freezes in different and funny positions.

The cast in Christmas Vacation is great especially it’s lead. Despite knowing how awful Chevy Chase is in real life I always manage to root for Clark Griswald and the scene in the movie where he finds out that his Christmas Bonus has been replaced by a One-Year membership to the jam of the month club is genuinely heartbreaking. His subsequent freak out and rant is completely believable and filled with the exact amount of profanity you’d expect ending with the very memorable line “Halleujah! Holy S**t! Where’s the Tylenol?” You surprisingly want to see him succeed because all Clark wants is for his family to have a good christmas, like he had when he was a kid. This is present in the scene where he’s stuck in the attic watching old Christmas home movies and crying making the viewer feel for his struggle. And although he’s initially resents Eddie’s family showing up when he finds out from Eddie’s daughter Ruby Sue that her and her brother’s Christmases aren’t very good and that they’re starting to doubt if Santa actually exists because they never get any presents he vows to make sure they’ll have a good Christmas too.

Two of the highlights of this movie’s cast who don’t show up until the second half of the movie are Uncle Lewis and Aunt Bethany played by William Hickey and Mae Questel who are sadly both deceased now. William Hickey who’s probably best known for his role as the mad scientist in “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, another holiday classic plays Uncle Lewis who’s cigar smoking comes to hurt Clark when he accidentally burns down the Griswald family Christmas Tree. He’s very funny but the true highlight is Mae Questel who was best known for voicing classic cartoon characters like Betty Boop and Olive Oyl. She plays the senile, but patriotic Aunt Bethany and every single scene with her in it is hilarious. I’m not going to go into too much detail about what she does as I want you to watch it for yourself but trust me it’s really funny.

Another highlight of the cast is the yuppie (yup+pie noun informal derogatory definition: a young person with a well-paid job and a fashionable lifestyle) couple who live next door Todd and Margo. They usually end up being the victims of Clark’s antics which usually end up causing great but hilarious pain and suffering to them. Also on a little bit of a site note Margo is played by a young before she was famous Julia Louis Dreyfuss.

If you want to see it for yourself I recommend not seeing it when it airs on T.V. Because the T.V. Version removes all the swear words and edits out several really funny jokes. It’s still funny but I think in order to get the full experience you need to see it on either video or whatever else you use to watch movies. If you’re watching the edited version on TV then I give it 4 out of 5 Grizzly paws. But if you’re seeing the original uncensored version then that’s a definite 5 out of 5.

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“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” brings back laughs