Everyone has heard of the National Lampoon movies. In fact, they may have risen to prominence over the last few years. Each of these flicks focus on the zany exploits of the Griswold clan, headed by well-meaning but bumbling patriarch Clark W. Griswold (Check Chase). We’ve followed them on their adventures on “Vacation”, in”Vegas” and in “Europe”, with each outing inevitably getting them into all sorts of awkward shenanigans.
More recently, there was a rather mediocre attempt to replicate the comedy and hilarity of the previous installments in “Vacation”, which features many of the same material, but with less of the charm, as the Griswold son, Rusty (Ed Helms) tries to give his family the same joyous vacation experiences as the ones he was introduced to.
While I certainly wasn’t a fan of that reboot, my favourite of the series has got to be “Christmas Vacation”, which is the only film where the Griswolds stay at home, with the action primarily circulating on preparing for Christmas. As you might guess, things never go as simply as you may expect, especially if your name is Clark Griswold!
In this installment, Clark is determined to have himself a festive holiday , with the added perks of a Christmas bonus from his job with his patient, long-suffering wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and kids Rusty and Audrey (here played by Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis, in keeping with the running gag of the Griswold kids having different actors each movie). But alas, it’s not to be, Clark gets into all sorts of antics over the season. From Clark’s goofy Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) who lives in a Recreational Vehicle, snobbish neighbours Todd ( Nicholas Guest) and Margo (Julia Louis Drefus), and Mary (Nicolette Scorsese), a comely lingerie saleswoman who somehow sends Clark into a fluster, especially when his son Rusty cottons onto him! Add a feral squirrel, a kidnapped boss and a hostage situation, and you’ve got one heck of a Christmas!
The humour of the “National Lampoon” movies might not appeal to everyone’s tastes, as they contain slapstick pratfalls, toilet humour and plain old cringy moments, mainly at the expense of Clark. But somehow, the cast makes this material work, no matter how outlandish or over the top it may seem. Chevy Chase, in particular, continues to play Clark as the bumbling, put upon guy we love to watch. The selling point of this flick for me is definitely just Clark’s interactions with his Cousin Eddie . Whether he’s nonchalantly watching him pour his sewage all over his front lawn while wearing a skimpy bathrobe, or reacting to Eddie kidnapping his boss after a rhetorical request gone awry, you just know that there’s some laughs lined up!
In fact, Quaid’s Eddie proved to be so popular that he was given his own TV spin off movie in 2003. Unfortunately, I recommend that flick even less than I do the new revamped “Vacation”.
“Christmas Vacation” may not have much to recommend it, and contains no Oscar worthy performances, but if you’re in need of a chuckle just after Christmas, then I suggest watching this flick. “Christmas Vacation” gets three and a half stars.
Peace out, and have a Fantastic New Year!