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He Said, She Said Review Site

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

What She said:


Some movies have come to define my childhood—those that I was forced by my parents to watch over and over, or that my Dad has decided to quote at random at totally inappropriate times.  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one of those movies.  In fact, it’s probably the Griswold family movie that I’ve seen the most out of the series.  No, it’s not because my family bears any resemblance to the Griswolds—my father isn’t quite that clumsy or snakebitten, and I certainly don’t have a brother or a Cousin Eddie in the family.  We just always found John Hughes’ 1989 representation of family around the holidays to be particularly funny.  If nothing else, Christmas Vacation is both creative and honest. 

Christmas Vacation

There’s so much in the lives of the Griswolds to find humor in.  Clark (Chevy Chase) is a really decent family man who just wants to have the “hap-hap-happiest Christmas” ever.  Unfortunately, his boss doesn’t know who he is (despite his excelling at work), his in-laws are total jerks, his neighbors are yuppy snobs, and Cousin Eddie shows up.  And these are just the major factors impeding his Christmas dream from coming true.  Let’s not forget that his ideal tree destroys his house, he gets locked in the attic for a day, and he cannot get those stinkin’ Christmas lights to work.  Fortunately, Clark has a fairly understanding wife, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), and his kids Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki) are not a huge pain in the butt.  However, the entire family must keep a smile on their faces and suffer as Clark realizes his downfall in the weeks leading up to the big day.  Clark handles most of the adversity with grace, but he will ultimately have a huge meltdown.  It’s classic.

Christmas Vacation

The movie features an outstanding cast of characters, young and old, including Randy Quaid as the insufferable Cousin Eddie.  Eddie crashed Christmas uninvited, family in tow, and parks the rusting out RV in the driveway, much to Clark’s displeasure.  Of course, it’s all about the holiday season, and so Clark entertains Eddie and his family.  However, the two of them are like salt and ice, and so it’s fun to watch their interactions throughout the movie.  I also thoroughly enjoy Clark’s banter with the neighbors, Margot and Todd (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Nicholas Guest). 

Christmas Vacation is full of zany fun, and is a tried and true holiday classic.  It doesn’t seem to get the play that it once did, but it’s worth a viewing each year just to get yourself in the spirit.

Thumbs up.

What he said:


Arguably the most popular National Lampoons movie of all time, Christmas Vacation, is holiday classic. You can always find it on TV around this time of year. It’s guaranteed to be on every Christmas season. Not as heartwarming as A Christmas Story, this movie definitely ups the ante in the crazy department, making it just as memorable. It manages to be completely ridiculous, yet somewhat identifiable to many. When we think of how hectic the holidays can be, we think of this movie.

Christmas Vacation

This time around the Griswolds find themselves hosting the annual Christmas extravaganza for both invited and uninvited guests alike. This isn’t just a one-off gathering either. Oh no, there is build up to the main event. Members of the family start to show up in what appears to be weeks in advance of the big dinner. Clark’s wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) isn’t so sure of this idea, but Clark (Chevy Chase) reassures her that it will all work out ok. It doesn’t take long for the horror of the situation to sink in. Clark’s parents seem like pretty nice people, but his in-laws really like to lay into him. The rag on him every chance they get. On top of that, he can’t even get his Christmas lights to work.  He is eventually able to get to the bottom of that with a little help from his wife Ellen though. That isn’t the end of it though. He has to put up with obnoxious yuppie neighbors  just about every time one of them comes out the front door. On top of that, he has to put up with the most unwanted house guest of all time.

There are some truly classic moments in this movie. Take  this one for example. Oh yeah, there's this gem too!

We're probably not telling you anything you don't already know about this holiday classic - virtually everyone has seen it. But we hope this review makes you smile as you are reminded of one of the best Christmas movies of all time.  

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was brought to you on December 24, 2010. It was updated on December 12, 2012.