CPD Classics: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) Review

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) by ME!

Directed by Jeremiah Chechik

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Chevy Chase
Beverly D’Angelo
Randy Quaid
Juliette Lewis
Johnny Galecki
John Randolph
Diane Ladd
E.G. Marshall
Doris Roberts
William Hickey
Mae Questel
Miriam Flynn
Nicholas Guest
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
The Griswolds decide to stay home for Christmas. And this “vacation” is the funniest by far.

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My Opinion:

I love Christmas movies. When I was younger and had time, I’d watch loads of them through all of December. It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, etc etc… I don’t have the time for that these days but there are TWO Christmas movies I still try to watch every December without fail: Scrooged and, of course, this.

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I don’t think I need to go into this one too much – I’d be very surprised if anyone has actually not seen it. By far the best of the “Vacation” films, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation may not be It’s A Wonderful Life but is certainly every bit as much an American Christmas Classic. What I’ve always loved about it is that it SO accurately portrays a fairly typical American Christmas with crazy family (although of course exaggerated for comedic effect). I’m not sure if this one is as successful outside of the US – I WILL admit that it’s very “American”. My British hubby has never been able to relate to this one in the same way that I can and, since living in the UK, I’ve seen that Christmas is quite different here. But that’s probably made me love this movie even more – I can put it on each December and get all warm & fuzzy remembering my Christmases as a kid.

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The other thing I’ve always loved about this movie is that it’s actually REALLY EFFING FUNNY!!! Comedy isn’t exactly my favorite movie genre as there are so few that I’ve found funny over the years. But Christmas Vacation is hilarious. The mishaps with the Christmas lights, the crazy old aunt & uncle, the squirrel, the dry turkey, the cat getting fried, Danny Fucking Kaye, “it is a bit nipply out”, the snobby neighbors, the Star-Spangled Banner, Hallelujah! Holy shit! And, of course…. Cousin Eddie. How awesome is Randy Quaid in this movie? “Shitter was full!”. That’s right, James Stewart – I love you and Zuzu’s petals & your “Attaboy, Clarence” and all that but nothing beats “Shitter was full” when it comes to the all-time best Christmas movie quotes.

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Summary:

This movie never fails to cheer me up. I can’t imagine a Christmas going by without me watching it. It’s very American which makes me feel all nostalgic, it’s funny as hell, and it actually has a lot of heart without being annoyingly saccharine like most Christmas movies are. These are the reasons why National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

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**I could only track down the above poster art to Pinterest HERE. And I looooove this piece of artwork from artist Jude Buffum (site HERE).

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About Time (2013) Review

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About Time (2013)

Directed by Richard Curtis

Starring:
Domhnall Gleeson
Rachel McAdams
Bill Nighy
Tom Hollander
Margot Robbie
Lydia Wilson

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
When Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) turns 21 his dad (Bill Nighy) shares a family secret with him: the men in their family are able to time travel & change things in their past. Tim decides to use this to get a girlfriend.

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I’m not the biggest fan of Richard Curtis films. While I enjoy watching them, there’s always a character or two that annoy me and then when I think about the movies more later on, I always end up liking them even less. Didn’t like Notting Hill that much – Julia Roberts was annoying. The lesser characters in that film were the best. Four Weddings And A Funeral wasn’t as good as the hype and, again, the female lead was annoying. Then there was Love Actually, which I saw in the cinema and kind of enjoyed but, on reflection, man there are some hateful characters in that one! At least with that film, there were SO MANY characters that you could focus more on the stories & people you liked. I guess. Oh, and I’m not the biggest fan of Hugh Grant, either. And although Curtis just co-wrote the screenplay, not the book, can I just say that Bridget Jones gets on my nerves? It wasn’t at all shocking that she had trouble getting a boyfriend! Obnoxious cow.

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Wow – I sound really bitchy. Lol! I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: About Time is, overall, better than all the above films. It has its flaws and its couple of slightly “quirky” characters like in all Curtis films. But it feels less contrived than previous films and gets its point across really well without having to shove its message down our throats. It’s not trying too hard to please every single moviegoer with lots of different stories and characters like in Love Actually – it keeps things very simple which I think makes it a much better film. We get to really know and care about the main characters in this film. And they’re likeable and realistic in this one! (Aside from the sister being made the quirky one but she’s not TOO annoyingly quirky). Oh! And the American female lead is also, for once, totally likeable as well! Yay!

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FYI BOYS: Margot Robbie is in this

I really wanted to see this one as I read several very positive reviews (especially from male bloggers!) here on WordPress. The main one I remember was from Tom at Digital Shortbread (his review is HERE). I was curious as to why so many guys liked what appeared to be a romantic comedy, especially as I’m not the type of girly girl who normally likes those types of movies (sometimes – it depends on my mood!). I can tell you now, staying spoiler free, that it IS romantic but it’s not a comedy. It’s also not JUST about romance, like it at first seems it’s going to be. There’s a big focus on the relationship between the main character (Domhnall Gleeson) and his father (Bill Nighy). I loved this! His relationship with Rachel McAdams was great & totally believable (they seem like real people in a real relationship – no sickly sweet stuff) but the father/son relationship is what ended up really making the film for me.

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So don’t run away from this one, guys – there’s something here for both male and female viewers. The film starts out a little slow and it did take me a while to get into it but, once it finished, I thought it was pretty damn good overall and I loved the direction it decided to take at the end. As for the time travel?? Ignore that – this movie is NOT about that. I think it probably breaks every possible rule about time travel and some of it made no sense. It was simply used as the device to get across the (very simple yet very good) message of the film. Not too bad, Richard Curtis!

My Rating: 7/10

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