National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation


Action / Comedy / Family

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 64%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 86%
IMDb Rating 7.6 10 122641


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December 20, 2011 at 12:51 AM

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Jackson Booth-Millard 4 / 10

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon's Vacation is the most worthwhile, and European Vacation is alright, but this was the one I most looked forward to watching, because I had seen the poster so many times, a man in a Santa suit being electrocuted by Christmas lights, written by John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Home Alone, Beethoven), directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik (Benny & Joon). Basically Christmas is only a few weeks away, the Griswold family are getting ready for the festive season, with husband/father Clark (Chevy Chase), wife/mother Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), son Rusty "Russ" (Johnny Galecki) and daughter Audrey (Juliette Lewis). Clark drives the family into the country to get a large Christmas tree, but they realise they have not brought any tools to cut the tree down, they are forced to uproot one, before driving home with the tree strapped on the car roof. Soon after, Clark's parents: father Clark Sr. (John Randolph) and mother Nora (Diane Ladd), and Ellen's parents: father Art (E.G. Marshall) and mother Francis (Everybody Loves Raymond's Doris Roberts), arrive to spend Christmas. Their bickering quickly begins to annoy the family, but Clark maintains a positive attitude, determined to have a "fun old-fashioned family Christmas." Clark covers the entire exterior of the house with 25,000 fairy lights, he has many slips and falls trying to attach them, they fail to work at first, as they were accidentally wired through the garage's light switch. When the lights finally come on after various bulb checks, and tampering with the plugs, they temporarily cause a power shortage across the city, and they cause chaos for snobby neighbours the Chesters, Todd (Nicholas Guest) and Margo (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). While admiring the lights on the front yard, Clark is shocked to see Ellen's cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn) and her husband Eddie (Randy Quaid), they arrive unannounced with their children, Rocky (Cody Burger) and Ruby Sue (Ellen Hamilton Latzen), and their Rottweiler dog, Snots. Eddie confesses that he and his family are living in their RV, as he is broke and was forced to sell the house, Clark offers to buy gifts for Eddie's children, so they can still enjoy Christmas. Clark begins to wonder he has not received his yearly bonus, which he desperately needs for an advance payment he has made to install a new swimming pool. The family have a disastrous Christmas Eve dinner, then Clark receives an envelope, which was overlooked by a messenger the day before, it is not a bonus check, it is a free year's membership for the Jelly of the Month Club. This causes Clark to snap, he goes into a tirade of abuse about his boss, Frank Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray), and out of anger, requests that he be delivered to the house, so Clark can insult him to his face. Eddie takes this request literally, he drives to Frank's mansion, and kidnaps him, Clark is at first shocked, but he confronts Frank about the cancellation of the employees' Christmas bonuses. Meanwhile, Frank's wife, Helen (Natalia Nogulich), calls the police, and a SWAT team storms the Griswold house, everyone is held at gunpoint, but Frank decides not to press charges, he explains the situation to his wife and the authorities, they scold Frank's for his decision, so he reinstates them (with Clark getting an add-on 20% of his salary). The family head outside, and see what they think is Santa Claus in the sky, Clark tells them it is the Christmas Star, and he finally realises what the holiday means to him. Uncle Lewis (William Hickey) says the light is coming from the sewage treatment plant, he reminds Clark that Eddie has been dumping sewage into a storm drain, Uncle Lewis, before Clark can stop him, Uncle Lewis throws a lit match to the ground, triggering an explosion. Aunt Bethany starts singing "The Star-Spangled Banner", the whole family and the SWAT team join in, gazing at Clark's Santa Claus and reindeer set burning and flying into the distance, everyone then goes inside the house to celebrate, while and Ellen happily share a Christmas kiss. Chase is perhaps a little over-the-top this time as the accident-prone father trying to give his family the best Christmas possible, D'Angelo is alright as the tested wife, Quaid is reasonable as the obnoxious relative, and it's nice to see young Lewis in one of her earliest performances. There is always a preconception that everyone tries, or pretends, to be nice to each other at Christmas, well this movie takes that premise to the extreme, everything you fear could wrong during the festive season will go wrong for the Griswolds, unfortunately the extremity of this stuff is not as well crafted as seen previously, it does make you laugh, but perhaps not enough, overall it is an average seasonal comedy. Okay!

Reviewed by keithdrac 3 / 10

Frustrating, disturbing, and unfunny torture film.

I hated this film. It's disturbing and hard to watch, not funny. It's a torture film. Most of the characters are extremely unlikable, but I felt that the main character is too sympathetic for the movie to work in the least bit. I felt so bad for Clark because of how much he goes through and how much crap he takes from people. The best scene by far was when he stood up to the obnoxious characters, because I sat through the entire film waiting for that to happen. The cinematography, color, and music (by David Lynch's composer, Angelo Badalamenti) were all good. It is not an absolute waste, but it's a frustrating experience. Certainly not worth a watch. I fail to understand the popularity.

Reviewed by bowmanblue 8 / 10

Still as much fun

I remember renting 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' from a video store back in the late eighties and again in the early nineties (until I figured it was simply more convenient and cost effective to buy a VHS copy and watch it whenever I want). I was young at the time and clearly loved its slightly dumb, cheesy humour (plus I was a fan of the two previous 'Vacation' films, but you don't actually have to have watched either of those to watch this one - you'll just not be one of us who get confused at the repeated new casting of the kids, Audrey and Rusty). However, for some reason, the film didn't survive my eventual binning of my tapes and buying everything again on DVD. Therefore, I was delighted when a popular online streaming service put it on their schedule in time for the festive season.

It was only now did I realise how much I must have watched it back when I was young, as I knew the script practically word for word. So, in short, I still loved it and was in nostalgia heaven. And I could almost leave the review there if it wasn't for the fact that I was watching it now with my girlfriend who had never seen it before in her life. She hated it.

Therefore, I was sort of forced to re-evaluate it and, although I maintain my love for it, try to see what some people may find wrong with it. Yes, the jokes are dumb. It's sort of like the 'American Pie' of its generation. It's definitely not high-brown entertainment and you have to accept that you're going to be watching a buffoon at work when it comes to the central character, played by Chevy Chase, Clark Griswold. I guess it could be said that some people may simply find him too annoying and stupid to root for.

I suppose a few of the gags do fall a little flat and just as many are predictable, but then by now most adults will have seen so many comedy films by now that they can see 'old humour' coming a mile off. There was actually more profanity in this than I remember, including one 'F-bomb' which does mean that the film may be more unsuitable for 'all' the family than I remember.

I suppose it's quite tame and, because of its age, has a feeling of being done before. However, I still maintain that, overall, it's stood the test of time reasonably well and should still pick up a few new fans here and there (especially in terms of good/funny Christmas movies). You'll definitely get more out of it if, like me, you have nostalgia on your side, but even my girlfriend had to admit that Randy Quaid was a joy to watch. Although, she still maintained that the (seldom-used) neighbours got all of the best gags!

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