The VH Christmas Countdown – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Rating:

With December 25th only weeks away, proud family man Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is determined to host the perfect family Christmas. It doesn’t take long for supportive wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and children Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki) to see that Clark he will have his work cut out for him.

Welcoming the family after a few slight hiccups, including finding a Christmas tree and getting the decorations to work, the Griswolds are united for a good-old-fashioned family Christmas. With bickering in-laws and clashes over who sleeps where things are going as expected.

But with Clark under pressure to receive his annual Christmas bonus to fund the family swimming pool, and also welcome the surprise of his redneck cousin-in-law Eddie (Randy Quaid), the perfect Christmas soon starts to unravel in a series of chaotic and mad-cap events that will test them all in sticking it out together…

From obtaining a Christmas tree out in the wilderness, to wiring up the thousands of decorative lights to the house and scheduling in the turkey dinner all around the expectant delivery of his annual work Christmas bonus, events all seem to take an upside down turn and it just makes the family more determined than ever to solider through the festive season!

Set around the Griswold home, this could be the greatest Christmas film ever. No need for fantastical special effects, sweeping magical stories or epic adventures; this is a film we all can relate to and provides all of the warm humour and comedy from situations we have experienced in setting up for the Christmas season, which is why it works so well. The Griswold’s are a likeable bunch and they invite you in from the start to share the holiday with them and experience every annoyance, irk and frustration we too have had over the years.

Chevy Chase leads his third “National Lampoon” film with this seasonal outing, and he does so in the inimitable, dead-pan way he does best. Beverly D’Angelo is just as spunky as ever who gives as good as she gets, and a whole host of others fill out the Griswold family. We also have a great turn from Brian Doyle-Murray as CEO Frank Shirley and a rather fetching turn from Nicolette Scorsese (no relation to Martin) as Mary.

Working in the film’s favor as always is the straight delivery of some classic lines from the actors as they create the most memorable American family since the Walton’s, and they work together so well with a great festive script to seal the deal. The plot revolves around something we all know too well – preparing for Christmas. It moves quick from one set-up to the next, but not in a series of wacky sketches. As part of an overall story that factors in so much content, we watch with amusement as Clark keeps as calm as possible until he snaps…as we all do… and then wash it down with some egg-nog and get on with it.

This is my perfect Christmas film for all the right reasons and with crackling comedy and a feel-good, sometimes crude and crass festive message running throughout, this is one you can’t help but love to re-watch every year. It’s also good to be thankful your Christmas holiday isn’t as disastrous as the Griswold’s. But then again, if it was, it would be worth re-visiting each December 25th.

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

DirJeremiah S. Chechick

Scr: John Hughes

Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galacki, Brian Doyle-Murrary

Prd: John Hughes &  Tom Jacobson

DoP: Thomaes E. Ackerman

Music: Angelo Badalamenti

Country: United States

Year: 1989

Running time: 95 minutes

This Warner Bros. / Hughes Entertainment production is available to buy on digital, DVD and Blu-ray worldwide.

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