National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Diane of Tvor Travels. Thanks for another review, Diane! This is her second National Lampoon’s review after European Vacation. Now let’s hear her thoughts on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. 🙂

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The Griswold family are back for a third go-round and this time it’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Christmas also lends itself to a lot of stress, financially and emotionally and this year, Clark has the pressure of both.

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The fun starts with the Christmas tree hunt, skids into both sets of in-laws on full-bicker bode, Cousin Eddie and the whole family on board, complete with RV, and Clark’s over the top, wayyyy over the top light display on the house. Never mind being able to see it from space, you could see it on the other end of the universe. When it works, and when it doesn’t power down the whole city.

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Clark is determined he’s going to give everyone a memorable Christmas ever and, well, giving your family the Best Christmas Ever is fraught with its own pressures. and he does, but not quite the way he expected. His bonus at work is late and he’d hoped to use it to give his family an in ground pool but the bonus doesn’t materialize. Poor Clark, things go from bad to worse to utter chaos as usual and as usual, he feels like everyone is against him. But at rock bottom, when the the family name is defended against the insensitive boss, in the end, everyone’s happy but in the middle there are some really funny scenes as well as a few touching ones. In the end Clark gets back the Christmas spirit just when he’s run dry.

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This, for me, is even funnier than the first Vacation movie and is my favourite. The giant tree, the dry turkey, the fate of the cat, the bickering relatives with high expectations, the blindingly bright light display are all just a taste of what will tickle every bone in your funny. Even just the little scenes with a joke like sticky fingers had superb timing. The writing seems to sparkle, even more than the first Vacation movie. There are sweet scenes where Clark is watching old home movies in the loft and helping a little girl believe in Santa. There are manic ones like his rant about his boss, the toboggan ride, and the squirrel hunt. you can see Clark’s heart is as big as all outdoors and he can’t turn anyone away if he can give them a Christmas that’s special.

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The European Vacation movie suffered for not having buffer characters like Cousin Eddie (played by the wonderful scene-stealing Randy Quaid), the snobby neighbours and the in-laws and you really notice that in this movie where Clark can bounce off any number of wonderful characters, careening from crisis to crisis, supporting by his long suffering wife, played again by Beverly D’Angelo and by his son and daughter, Audrey and Rusty, recast again for this movie, this by by Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki as Audrey and Rusty in the best incarnations yet.

This movie quickly became a Christmas classic and they probably should have stopped the franchise here on a high note.

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25 thoughts on “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) Guest Review

      • …That’s hilarious because she actually said, “That’s us,” when we were watching one night. She is definitely Margot, but I’m more of a Clark. (MS also calls me “Chevy” alot, in reference to the home movies-in-the-attic scene, because sometimes I get a little emotional with the baby.)

  1. I watch this so many times between Thanksgiving and Christmas, every year, even my kids know all the lines! It annoys the hell out of my wife. This film mirrored (albeit exaggerated) the holiday get-togethers with my family. It was always chaos and someone always had a family crisis in the short time we were together.

  2. What a timeless movie. Great, great review. I forgot about the fate of the cat hahahaha!!!!

    I think you’re also spot-on about the fact that Clark has so much more material to work with, having that many more characters to feed energy from and be himself around. Cousin Eddie was simply a dose of brilliance.

  3. This is one of my favourite movies! We watch it every year as part of our Christmas celebrations. The script seems to capture the heart of family Christmases and everyone is perfectly cast. Great review. I can’t wait to watch it again this year!

  4. Pingback: Thanks To Everyone Involved With The John Hughes Blogathon | Cinema Parrot Disco

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